In a commentary appearing in Cell, the University of California, San Francisco's Yuh Nung Jan presents data on the winners of biomedical research prizes. Jan notes that Asians — here using the National Institutes of Health definition of people with origins from among the people of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent — represent about 20 percent of biomedical researchers in the US, but only make up 6.8 percent of prize winners. Some prizes have never had a winner of Asian heritage, he found.
"I was surprised at this severe underrepresentation of Asians," Jan tells The Scientist, adding that this bias "is a manifestation of the larger issue of under-appreciation of Asians in [the] US."
To address the issue, Jan suggests in the commentary and at The Scientist that efforts to be made to make researchers aware of the bias and inequity as well as to treat Asian researchers as individuals, as well as to draw on lessons from approaches aimed at improving the representation of women in the sciences.