Trump urged to re­con­sider ban

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa. com

As a US ap­peals court weighs US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der ban­ning en­try for refugees and vis­i­tors from seven mainly Mus­lim coun­tries, the founder of a foun­da­tion that hon­ors im­mi­grants is urg­ing Trump to re­think his pol­icy.

Mean­while, two of the foun­da­tion’s lat­est re­cip­i­ents, both na­tives of China, said im­mi­grants like them­selves make im­por­tant sci­en­tific con­tri­bu­tions to the US.

Jan Vil­cek, who es­caped from Cze­choslo­vakia dur­ing the Cold War and later worked on the block­buster drug Rem­i­cade, es­tab­lished the Vil­cek Foun­da­tion in 2000 to high­light the con­tri­bu­tions of im­mi­grants in the US.

“I would re­mind him (Trump) that his pa­ter­nal grand­par­ents and his mother were im­mi­grants, and that much of the suc­cess of this coun­try stems from our di­ver­sity and the fact that Amer­ica is a na­tion of im­mi­grants,” Vil­cek said.

“I would also tell him that bar­ring the en­try of in­no­cent peo­ple be­cause they hap­pen to be from one of the seven pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim coun­tries cho­sen by the ad­min­is­tra­tion is wrong, con­trary to the ad­mirable demo­cratic tra­di­tions and laws of the United States, harm­ful to the coun­try’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests and com­pet­i­tive­ness, and dam­ag­ing to Amer­ica’s stand­ing in the world.”

Ear­lier this month Vil­cek’s foun­da­tion an­nounced that the Vil­cek Prize in Biomed­i­cal Science will be awarded jointly to Chi­nese-born Lily and YuhNung Jan, a hus­band and wife re­search team at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia-San Fran­cisco. They will share a $100,000 award and will for­mally ac­cept their hon­ors in New York in April.

The Jans are be­ing rec­og­nized for their work in iso­lat­ing the gene en­cod­ing a pro­tein that shut­tles potas­sium ions across cell mem­branes, en­abling the char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of a molec­u­lar player im­por­tant to func­tions as vi­tal as main­tain­ing heart rate and con­trol­ling mus­cle move­ment.

“The ion chan­nels we have been study­ing are found in many tis­sues such as the brain, heart, kid­ney, pan­creas and mus­cle. Dis­eases in­clud­ing epilepsy, ar­rhyth­mia, hy­per­ten­sion, di­a­betes and ataxia may re­sult from mu­ta­tions of these ion chan­nels. Dys­reg­u­la­tion of ion chan­nel ac­tiv­ity may also af­fect can­cer pro­gres­sion,” Lily Jan said in an email.

Lily was born in Fuzhou, in East China’s Fu­jian prov­ince, while Yuh-Nung was born in Shang­hai. Both were ed­u­cated in Tai­wan and then came to the US for grad­u­ate school.

The Jans would like Trump to re­con­sider his travel ban. A 2013 Na­tional Science Foun­da­tion re­port said one in six US sci­en­tists is an im­mi­grant.

“Please base your de­ci­sions on facts and not ‘al­ter­na­tive facts’. Your ex­ec­u­tive or­ders are misguided. They don’t im­prove the se­cu­rity of the US and are likely to do more harm than good. For­eign-born peo­ple have made dis­pro­por­tion­ally large con­tri­bu­tions to the science and the en­trepreneur­ship in the US,” said Yuh-Nung Jan in an email.

The Vil­cek Prizes are se­lected through a nom­i­na­tion and de­lib­er­a­tion process by the foun­da­tion’s jury pan­els.

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