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For nearly two decades, America's life sciences industry has benefited from a Chinese brain drain. Since 1985 some 10,000 mainlanders have earned biomedicine PhDs in the U.S.—and the vast majority stayed to work at U.S. pharmaceutical companies and research universities. Now some of China's brightest brains are returning home to start drug-research companies, run university programs, and establish operations for multinationals.
China's gain is not necessarily America's loss, however. Most of these "sea turtles," as the returnees are known, are building strategic tieups with U.S. drugmakers that could expand their pipelines of new drugs, speed up development time, reduce R&D costs—and gain inroads to China's rapidly growing drug market. Others are founding U.S. companies with China operations.
Following are some of the most influential sea turtles.