Foreign-born scientists play key role in US cancer research
More than 40 percent of researchers at America’s top cancer institutes are immigrants, including some at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, according to a study released last month.
The report, “The Contributions of Immigrants to Cancer Research in America,” looks at both contributions and challenges experienced by even the top cancer researchers. The Foundation for American Policy, funded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, analyzed about 1,500 cancer researchers at the top cancer institutes for the report.
Among the findings is the fact that cancer researchers often wait years for permanent residence and endure the same long wait for green cards as other highly skilled immigrants and their employers.
The study showed the vital role played by immigrant researchers in improving the cancer survival rates experienced by Americans, and it stressed the importance of allowing them easier access to green cards in future immigration legislation.
The report included profiles of leading foreign-born researchers as well as a historical look at the contributions of immigrants to cancer research.
Immigrant researchers from the Norris cancer center highlighted in the report included:
• Peter Jones, born in South Africa, who served as director of the cancer center from 1993 to 2011. He is a Distinguished Professor of Urology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and holder of the H. Leslie Hoffman and Elaine S. Hoffman Chair in Cancer Research.
• Graham Casey, born in the United Kingdom, professor of preventive medicine and co-director of the cancer epidemiology program
• Gerhard Coetzee, a native of South Africa, professor of urology, preventive medicine and microbiology. He is the co-leader of the genitourinary cancers program.
• Yves DeClerck, a native of Belgium, director of the Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and professor of pediatrics, biochemistry and molecular biology at the Keck School
• Martin Kast, a native of the Netherlands, professor of molecular microbiology & immunology and obstetrics & gynecology. He currently holds the Walter A. Richter Chair in Cancer Research.
• Heinz-Josef Lenz, a German native, associate director for clinical research. Lenz, who holds the Kathryn M. Balakrishnan Chair for Cancer Research, oversees the programmatic activities of the gastrointestinal cancers program.
• Jacek Pinski, born in Poland, associate professor of medicine and a research-oriented medical oncologist. Pinski received his clinical training at the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center in Baltimore.
• David Quinn, born in Australia, medical director of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. He co-leads the genitourinary cancers program and is an associate professor of medicine in the division of cancer medicine and blood diseases at the Keck School.
• Duncan Thomas, a native of the United Kingdom, professor of preventive medicine, director of the biostatistics division and holder of the Verna R. Richter Chair in Cancer Research
As one of the largest foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion, the Kauffman Foundation supports the improvement of K-12 education as well as the advancement of entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in the areas of science and technology.