Banned Scientists

Documenting the impact of the immigration ban on U.S. science

Azadeh Paksa

Stem Cells And Regenerative Medicine

Massachusetts General Hospital And Harvard Medical School

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, working in the field of stem cells and regenerative medicine, focusing on life-threatening human respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis, acute asthma and lung cancer. I am a dual citizen of Germany and Iran, and I am currently holding a non-immigrant visa that will be vaild until June 2017.

I planned to attend a symposium on epigenetic regulation of stem cell differentiation on March 1st in Amsterdam, Netherlands. According to President Trump's executive order, I will not be allowed to return to the US following this trip, which has made me cancel my plans, unfortunately. Participating in this symposium could significantly enhance my scientific knowledge and could have a great impact on my research. Similarly, there is a scientific conference on advances in stem cells and regenerative medicine in May in Germany, my home country, that I will have to miss.

Besides the scientific damage that is caused by the executive order, I will be banned from visiting my family in Iran, and they will be barred from visiting me here. All in all, the humiliation and restrictions that are imposed on immigrants not only limit their advancement in their careers, but are also against humanity. As a result, if the discriminatory restrictions are still in place and the ban is not overturned, I will go back to Europe or anywhere else in the world and will help advance science in a country where I am truly respected as a resident. A country in which I can have freedom, as opposed to living in a prison in the US.