In late May 2016, I spent 10 days in China on behalf of UTHSC. The first four days were spent in Northern China at Harbin Medical University where I was joined by Dr. Steph Cormier, Dr. Steve Youngentob, and Dr. Weikuan Gu. We met with President Baofeng Yang, Vice President Dianjun Sun and other Harbin Medical University officials (upper left panel) for the purpose of advancing the current MOU between our academic health centers to a granular discussion of what scientific areas these collaborations will focus on and how will they work. We will continue this discussion when Vice President Sun visits UTHSC in the coming months.
I then proceeded on to Chengdu with Dr. Youngentob, where we visited Sichuan University and West China Hospital. Our visit to Chengdu was hosted by Dr. James Kang (pictured right, second to the left) who is a China National One-Thousand-Talents Theme Professor and director of the Regenerative Medicine Research Center. We attended the Stem Cell and Health Industry Forum and the inauguration of the Sichuan 3D Bioprinting Institute that Dr. Kang directs. During our discussions with Dr. Kang, we have developed the concept of a research-related exchange of students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty between our two institutions. We will continue these discussions when James visits UTHSC on September 21st and 22nd during which he will also be delivering a VCR Distinguished Lecture.
We met the Nobel Laureate Sir John Gurdon while in Chengdu as well. Sir John then traveled with us to Kunming where we all gave keynote lectures at the World Health Conference. Upon our return to Chengdu, we continued our discussion of the future collaborations between Sichuan University/West China Hospital and UTHSC. In Chengdu, I got to watch the “Changing Masks” artist in the right panel, who has become my personal bodyguard (just joking!).
Creating global partnerships in research is important for a myriad of reasons including broadening our network of potential valuable collaborators, opening up new grant award opportunities that are only available through international collaborations, and giving our UTHSC investigators the opportunity to experience new approaches to science. I feel that this is so important that I have appointed Dr. Steph Cormier as our inaugural UTHSC associate vice chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships and Dr. Weikuan Gu as the assistant vice chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships. Together Steph and Weikuan “will aid in the development of global connections, collaborations, and enhance the UT research environment. Towards this goal, the AVCR will establish cooperative agreements with global academic medical institutions in the Areas of Excellence, and the Focus Areas” as described in our UTHSC “Operational Strategic Plan.”
With the help of Steph, Weikuan, and the UTHSC research faculty we will enhance our research partnerships and ensure that it is “Raining all over the world” (a song by this title that you might enjoy by The Adventures has nothing to do with this article).
-Steven R. Goodman, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Research