ONE of America's top cancer scientists is heading a reverse brain drain to become the new director of the Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

Dr Karen Vousden, 44, hopes to bring an international team of colleagues with her from the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland.

Her appointment was announced yesterday, together with plans for a (pounds) 10m expansion of the Beatson's Garscube campus in Bearsden, providing facilities for 100 more scientists.

Born in Gravesend, Kent, Dr Vousden is the envy of her fellow expatriate researchers, who are not only homesick, but also see a growing role for Britain as a scientific centre. ''I work with a lot of scientists from Britain over there who want to come home,'' she said. ''They miss home, but science in Britain is also expanding exponentially. It is somewhere to be.

''At the same time the feeling that they have to go to America is not so strong among post-doctorate scientists here and in Europe any more.

''I think more people will come back, although opportunities like this one don't come up very often.''

Her American-born husband and fellow-scientist, Bob, is also taking up a post at the Beatson. Moving to Scotland with their daughter, Katie, 11, has been ''a real dream'' for them.

In addition she is hoping to bring over four post-doctorate fellows that she works with in Maryland - an American, a Malaysian, a Japanese and a German.

''There is a huge amount of money spent on cancer research in America, and it is a great place to work. But there is less collegiality and collaboration than here. It is not that they are horribly aggressive, but I think the

scientific community here is well-integrated - they talk to each other a lot.

''I think we are at a time when a lot of the important basic research that came out 10 or 15 years ago is now going to bear fruit in treatment at the clinic. The public and media have become very sophisticated about this. They are happy to put their money in the collecting can even thought they know the results may be some way off.''

Dr Vousden, who originally trained and worked in London, was lured from the NCI by

the promise of state-of-the-art

laboratories and the opportunity to work with Scotland's finest cancer researchers.

She will leave her high-profile position as chief of the Regulation of Cell Growth Laboratory at the NCI and takes up her new post in August.

She succeeds Professor John Wykes, who is retiring after 15 years as director.

''This is an extremely exciting time to be rejoining the cancer research community in the UK.''

Her research has focused on p53, the so-called ''guardian of the genome''. She is particularly excited at the prospect of working with Sir David Lane, the discoverer of p53, who has built a world-class reputation for his Cancer Research UK team in Dundee.

''Our work is complementary so we will be collaborating rather than competing,'' she said.

The (pounds) 10m investment will provide a new laboratory block, equipment, and refurbishment of existing buildings. Cancer Research UK - the recently-amalgamated Cancer Research Campaign and Imperial Cancer Research Fund - is putting up (pounds) 2.5m and Glasgow University (pounds) 7.5m.