Tigers in the Lab

Asian-born, U.S.-trained researchers are headed home to challenge the technological supremacy of the West

Like so many talented young taiwanese, Yuan T. Lee came to the U.S. to study, and then to stay. He earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He climbed the academic ladder. Eventually, he won a Nobel Prize. Then earlier this year, at the peak of his career, the 57-year- old chemist made a sweeping U-turn and headed back home to run Taiwan's prestigious Academia Sinica, a burgeoning collection of 21 research institutes.

The departure of such a distinguished scientist signals a dramatic change: the brain drain that has enriched the West with tens of thousands of...

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