Lat­est rank­ing of top re­search in­sti­tu­tions show Chi­na com­ing on strong — with sig­nif­i­cant im­pli­ca­tions for biotech

As Chi­na’s biotech in­dus­try en­joys ex­plod­ing growth, there’s fresh ev­i­dence that the coun­try’s sci­en­tif­ic elite is muscling up the lad­der of pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions around the world.

Na­ture as­sem­bled its close­ly-watched an­nu­al in­dex of re­search cen­ters around the world, and Chi­na con­tin­ues to hold the top spot, along with an over­all sec­ond-place fin­ish on aca­d­e­m­ic in­sti­tu­tions — be­hind the US.

Here’s the list of the top 15 in­sti­tu­tions over­all — based on counts of high-qual­i­ty re­search out­puts in the pre­vi­ous cal­en­dar year — along with a link to the full 500 they tracked this year. 

The Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences made the top spot again this year, while Chi­na’s Peking Uni­ver­si­ty and Ts­inghua Uni­ver­si­ty scored in the top 15 aca­d­e­m­ic re­search in­sti­tu­tions. And Xin­hua made care­ful note that Nan­jing Uni­ver­si­ty along with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy of Chi­na have jumped ahead from last year in­to the top ranks. 

To be sure, US aca­d­e­m­ic in­sti­tu­tions have re­tained their grip on the top places in acad­e­mia. Har­vard, Stan­ford, MIT, and Berke­ley dom­i­nate the top 5, with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Tokyo fill­ing the last spot there. 

Chi­na, though, now has 16 of the top 100 glob­al aca­d­e­m­ic cen­ters on this list, com­pared to 11 in 2016.

So what’s the big deal?

The first wave of Chi­nese biotechs we’ve been see­ing are large­ly in-li­cens­ing ap­proved and late-stage drugs from US part­ners. The busi­ness mod­el seems sound. Raise mon­ey, hus­tle up de­vel­op­ment of a known com­mod­i­ty with clear ideas on tri­al out­lines. Big out­fits like Mer­ck and As­traZeneca have al­so been en­joy­ing a shake­up of the coun­try’s reg­u­la­to­ry group, mak­ing strides in open­ing new mar­kets. There’s been one ap­proval of a drug in­vent­ed in Chi­na that I know about as de­vel­op­ers every­where fo­cus on fill­ing the drug gap be­tween the US and Chi­na.

But as the sci­ence gets bet­ter and the pipeline sifts through the first wave of drugs, you’ll start to see more orig­i­nal drug de­vel­op­ment work, which has been miss­ing. Things are chang­ing fast in Chi­na bio­phar­ma, and not just be­cause of the fi­nanc­ing that’s avail­able.

More change is straight ahead.

Im­age: Chi­nese Acad­e­my of Sci­ences HQ Cre­ative Com­mons

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As technology-enabled clinical research becomes the new normal, an integrated decentralized clinical trial operating system can ensure quality, deliver consistency and improve the patient experience.

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Stéphane Bancel at the Endpoints #JPM20 breakfast panel in San Francisco, January 2020 (Photo: Jeff Rumans, Endpoints News)

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CN Bio said the scope of the research performed by the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has expanded to include the exploration of the company’s lung-on-a-chip system to help with the agency’s evaluation of inhaled drugs, in addition to the agency’s work on its liver model.

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Cynthia Butitta (L) and Joe Jimenez

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Joe Wiley, Amryt CEO

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director general of WTO (AP Photo/Keystone/Alessandro Della Bella)

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