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Analysis of Output

The US may lose its lead in biomedical research to China, researchers from the University of Michigan say.

In JCI Insight, UMich's Bishr Omary and colleagues describe their examination biomedical research output by scientists in the US and China between 2000 and 2015. In that time, they found a steady decline of research articles from US scientists in high-ranking journals, though no change in mid-ranking journals. For Chinese researchers, they noticed an uptick in publications appearing in both high- and mid-ranking journals.

This, they add, tracks with increased R&D spending in China. As Live Science points out, the researchers found that in 2000, China spent a 12 percent of what the US spent on R&D, while in 2015, China spent 75 percent of what the US did.

"If current trends in R&D investments continue, it is predicted that China's support for research will exceed that of the US by 2022," Omary and colleagues write in their paper.

In a statement, Omary adds that stagnation of and uncertainties surrounding the US National Institutes of Health budget are a concern. "If we continue on the path we're on, it will be harder to maintain our lead and, even more importantly, we could be disenchanting the next generation of bright and passionate biomedical scientists who see a limited future in pursuing a scientist or physician-investigator career," he says.

However, he and his colleagues also noticed increased collaboration between US researchers and researchers abroad.