Focus on People and the Science Will Follow: Motivating Forces for Professional Movement in Stem Cell Research

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2015 Aug;11(4):533-9. doi: 10.1007/s12015-015-9595-7.


The migration of researchers across geographic borders, or "brain drain" as it is commonly called, remains an important issue for governments around the world as loss or gain of highly qualified personnel in research can have substantial social, economic and political consequences. In the present study we seek to examine the forces that drive international professional migration of stem cell (SC) researchers, for which variation of SC policy in different jurisdictions has previously been implicated as a driving force. Structured interviews were carried out with a purposive sample of SC researchers in the professoriate who had made international moves after postdoctoral work between the years 2001-2014, or were actively anticipating a future move. Participants were asked to rank motivators of international movement on a 5-point Likert scale and prompted to elaborate on their answers. The results suggest that career considerations, availability of research funding, and personal considerations are of high importance to the participants when considering an international move, while the permissiveness or restrictiveness SC research policy is of comparably lower importance. Participants also expressed that international movements are beneficial to scientific careers overall. The findings have important implications for policy and strategies to attract and retain members of the SC research community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Career Mobility
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / psychology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Research Personnel / psychology
  • Research Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Research Personnel / supply & distribution*
  • Research* / economics
  • Singapore
  • Stem Cell Research*
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Workforce