One brave immigrant demonstrates the innovation that immigration makes possible.

The American Heart Association, Verily Life Sciences and AstraZeneca announced the winner of the $75 million One Brave Idea Research Award on Wednesday. The winner, Dr. Calum MacRae, is a Scottish immigrant and chief of Cardiovascular Medicine at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His vision for uncovering the causes of heart disease and the potential to prevent it was selected from 350 submissions worldwide.


It is not a surprise to us that the winner is an immigrant. Nor is it a surprise that many members of his team are immigrants or that Verily Life Sciences, which contributed $25 million of the prize money, is a division of Alphabet, Inc., famously founded by Russian immigrant Sergey Brin. Immigration is the secret sauce that keeps this country at the forefront of innovation.

  • Fifty-one percent of the medical scientists in Massachusetts are foreign-born.
  • Forty-two percent of the researchers at the top seven U.S. cancer research centers are foreign-born.
  • Thirty-one percent of all U.S. Nobel laureates are foreign-born.
  • The 2003 National Survey of College Graduates shows that immigrants patent at double the native-born rate.

The list could go on and on. Although it cannot be measured, there is something innately entrepreneurial and innovative about immigrating. The combination of passion, drive, talent and the American Dream make it possible. Dr. Calum MacRae himself said, “Landing in America was probably the defining moment of my life….There was this potential for change and dynamism that was unique.” It’s possible he might not have achieved such astounding success had he not left his home country. We, at The ILC, are very happy to have him here.

To learn more about immigrants in health care, click here.

To learn more about immigrant Nobel Prize winners, click here.

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