An Indian experiment to attract talented young science researchers back from abroad and foster a new scientific culture in the biological sciences is a model that could be used in other countries, argue Shubha Tole and Ronald D. Vale in Science.
Instead of offering lavish resources to established US or European scientists, as in China or Singapore, say the authors, it is coaxing young foreign-trained Indian scientists to return by establishing grant programmes to support post-doctoral work and new independent laboratories.
In the last two years, an annual Young Investigator Meeting has brought together some 40 postdoctoral fellows considering careers in India with successful local counterparts engaged in research programmes in the country. Senior foreign and Indian scientists and policymakers also attend.
Social networking is strongly encouraged by the programme as a way of forming research collaborations, and a website has been set up to provide information on grants, jobs and issues such as combining teaching with research.
The major challenge, argue the authors, is changing the mindset of expatriate scientists who remember poor laboratory facilities from their undergraduate days. Yet new buildings and equipment cannot themselves create success, they say: "The best guarantee for future success is to imbue young scientists with a sense of a mission, to nurture not just the science but a culture that fuels the will to succeed in countries long thought of as second-choice options for research careers."