Imperial College, London is abolishing the bottom two-thirds of the lecturers' pay scale, boosting the minimum salary for lecturers by £8,000 to £28,319.
Professors will also be paid more, with the minimum rising from £39,000 to £42,500, and to £45,000 from October 1 2002. All figures exclude London allowance.
The pay rises will affect 46 of the college's 286 lecturers, and 69 of its 393 professors.
Imperial College rector Sir Richard Sykes said: "To retain our position as one of the top research and teaching institutions in the world, we had to start removing the barriers that exist to recruiting, retaining and properly rewarding our high-calibre academic staff."
Meanwhile, the Royal Society is targeting young American scientists with salary packages of up to £50,000 to lure them to United Kingdom laboratories.
The society believed there has been a drop in the number of US researchers coming to the UK over the past decade.
Sir Brian Heap, the society's foreign secretary and vice-president, said:
"The United States is the world's leading scientific nation. The UK has some of the best research laboratories in the world, and it is natural that American scientists would like to broaden their experience by working at these institutions."
The government-funded scheme will give £500,000 in the first year. It follows the Royal Society's research merit awards designed to recruit and retain the "David Beckhams" of British Science.
Peter Cotgreave, director of the lobby group Save British Science, said the higher salaries of the fellowships could help to boost the salaries of UK researchers. "It's another piece of upwards pressure," he said. "It may initially seem unfair, but the tension will make it difficult to pay homegrown people badly."
Each fellowship will be worth up to a £35,000 salary, up to £12,000 for research expenses, and transatlantic travel allowances of up to £2,000. Ten awards are expected in the first year.