Biomedical Research Will Become Asian Research
May 1, 2012
David Wheeler, Chronicle of Higher Education
“Why do so many scholars think that the 21st century will be the Asian century? The answer isn’t just that many Asian universities are racing to be research powerhouses. . . .
A different answer is that the focus of biomedical research, by virtue of population alone, will have to shift to Asia. About 4.1-billion of the planet’s roughly seven-billion people live in Asia. Demographic shifts in the Asian population will shape research: China’s one-child policy and family-planning programs promoted in many other Asian countries, for instance, have led to a larger proportion of the Asian population being elderly, with fewer young people to take care of them.”
Sometimes lost in the various expressions of concern about the emergence and rapid ascendance of Asian research universities are the several areas that pose challenges for US and Asian countries alike and therefore could be the bases of active and sustained cooperation.
As noted by Wheeler in his brief piece on biomedical research in Asia, Japan now and China before 2050 will have aging populations whose health requires more attention and care. The US, with a population dominated now by the aging Baby Boomer generation, remains relatively young thanks, in part, to a very young Hispanic/Latino component.
Nevertheless, these three countries’ research enterprises and research universities have a plethora of reasons to enter into collaboration and focus on the needs and expectations of aging citizenries. Japan has an unprecedented aging society, yet health care costs are quite low, while China’s lingering effects of the one-child policy will see that country change demographically in an extraordinarily brief period of time.
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