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New partnership fosters broad scientific exchange with major Chinese university, hospital

DALLAS Aug. 9, 2010 UT Southwestern Medical Center has entered into an academic and scientific partnership with Sun Yat-sen University and its First Affiliated Hospital in Guangzhou, China. The first international institutional affiliation for UT Southwestern and a first step in implementing the global health initiative that is one of the medical center's current strategic priorities, the partnership was developed to promote joint scientific research, educational, and training activities.

Signed in July, the agreement initially will bring exceptional junior scholars from Sun Yat-sen University to UT Southwestern for postdoctoral research training, supported by the Chinese institution. The partnership will subsequently expand to include exchange programs for medical students, residents and faculty.

While there have been several individual interactions with Sun Yat-sen University in recent years, this is the first institutional affiliation agreement of such a broad scope with a prominent foreign academic medical center.

"This academic and scientific partnership will create new opportunities for an international exchange of educational experiences for students, postdoctoral trainees and faculty of both institutions, while also creating new opportunities for broader research and clinical collaborations," said UT Southwestern President Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, who signed the agreement during a trip to China with several faculty members.

"First Affiliated Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in China and offers a rich resource for collaboration in clinical and translational research," Dr. Podolsky said.

Dr. Jay Schneider, assistant professor of internal medicine, said the collaborative agreement is the result of months of collegial negotiations between the two institutions. The discussions started about two years ago when Dr. Peter Igarashi, chief of nephrology at UT Southwestern, and Dr. Xin Jin "Joseph" Zhou, professor of pathology and internal medicine, organized a "sister" renal center with the Chinese university, sponsored by the International Society of Nephrology.

"Our Chinese counterparts have the resources to do very high-level science, and we can add to their knowledge base in very specific areas," said Dr. Schneider, a cardiologist who was part of the UT Southwestern delegation at the signing ceremony along with Drs. Podolsky, Zhou and Igarashi.

A faculty steering committee consisting of Drs. Schneider, Igarashi and Michael White, professor of cell biology, will coordinate the partnership, in concert with a new Office of Global Health, which is being formed as part of the University's strategic initiatives and which ultimately will oversee this program.

"First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University has made efforts to develop patient registries and tissue and DNA biobanks that can be used for clinical and translational research," he said. "Combining these resources with our expertise provides a great opportunity for collaborative research and training of students and postdoctoral fellows."

Additional UT Southwestern faculty who took part in tours and discussions at Sun Yat-sen were Dr. Orson Moe, director of the Charles and Jane Pak Center for Mineral Metabolism and Clinical Research; Dr. Robert Toto, professor of internal medicine and clinical sciences; and Dr. Michel Baum, professor of pediatrics and internal medicine.

Initially, the agreement calls for UT Southwestern to host five to 10 Sun Yat-sen postdoctoral scholars a year.


Contact: Kristen Holland Shear
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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