That breakdown is typical. Walter said about half the 15 students, postdocs and junior faculty who run his lab are foreign. None are from the countries named in Trump's order, but others from adjacent labs are—and the ban has direct implications for their work. “If their visa status is threatened, all their work comes to a halt,” he said.
Poznansky said that over the past decade, his laboratory and center has employed and trained 140 scientists, and 55% were either on visas or were naturalized citizens. They came from the U.K., China, India, Singapore, Iran, Israel, Dubai, Egypt and elsewhere.
The Sabeti Lab, part of the FAS Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University and headed by Iranian-born Pardis Sabeti, has five other scientists from Iran or of Iranian descent.
Prakash, the Stanford bioengineer, described scientific education as a delicate ecosystem. He and other scientists worry that Trump's order, while limited in scope, could destroy that balance, cultivated over decades. The quality of science in the U.S. is not simply because of its well-endowed research institutions or its state-of-the-art technology and facilities, he said. “We have people who embrace ideas from a broad view, and that social context is as important.”
For now, Muhsin will remain in the U.S. If he leaves the country, he will be unable to re-enter under the current ban. His wife has canceled her plans to visit her family in Iraq in the spring.
Muhsin, who left Iraq for Qatar in 2006, at the peak of the violence during the war there, eventually did his residency in internal medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City. There, he was recognized for “dedication and commitment to patients,” for “demonstrated excellence in clinical medicine,” for “outstanding teaching skills” and for “outstanding service for patients.”
Breton's lab, where Muhsin is a fellow, recently discovered a biomarker that can predict the onset of acute kidney injury, which kills 300,000 people a year, and they are working on a small molecule that could someday be developed into a drug to treat it.
The Trump administration has suggested it might extend the ban indefinitely for the countries on the list, as well as expand it to include Pakistan, which produces the second-largest share of international medical graduates who come to the U.S., after India.
“Think about the number of doctors, foreign medical graduates and others who come from Pakistan,” said
Dr. Alexi Nazem, a practicing internal medicine specialist who's also CEO of New York-based Nomad Health, a tech startup that provides an online platform for hospitals to address temporary health staffing needs.
Nazem's family emigrated from Iran to the U.S. in the 1960s. He said Trump's immigration policies threaten to alienate the very people that the U.S. has sought to attract through its worker visa programs for decades.
“Foreign medical graduates from Pakistan should really be thinking 'what if I apply for residency and I get accepted and then they expand the ban to Pakistan?' ” Nazem said. “The wise thing for a lot of those people to do is to take their talents elsewhere. But it would be a terrible loss for America.”