Ann Arbor, Mich. — The University of Michigan Medical School will establish a joint institute with the Peking University Health Science Center in a unique effort to promote research that can lead to breakthroughs in pulmonary, cardiovascular and liver diseases.
The joint institute will feature collaborative research efforts, exchanges of faculty, medical residents, fellows and other researchers, and completion of large-scale clinical trials.
“Our Medical School mission is clear. We are dedicated to education and research for the people of the state of Michigan and beyond,” says Joseph Kolars, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives.
“This is evidence of the University of Michigan Medical School’s intention to have a global impact on the way physicians are trained, and to be leaders in cutting-edge research that can solve the medical problems of our world.”
The joint institute will be launched on Oct. 12 in an opening ceremony at the Biomedical Sciences Research Building on the Medical School campus. Leadership from both universities will sign the agreement during a reception that begins at 1:30 p.m. The first joint symposium will be held to facilitate the discussion on the joint research projects.
The joint institute will focus on research into pulmonary, cardiovascular and liver diseases, all areas of mutual interest at U-M and Peking University. The joint institute will involve faculty at both institutions collaborating on projects on an equal basis — not just sharing data.
The institute will provide infrastructures to optimize the mechanism to support joint projects, including human subjects protection, tissue repositories and biomedical informatics, as well as research on science of collaboration.
Both U-M Medical School and Peking University Health Science Center have committed to provide $7 million each to fund the initiative.
“We hope this joint institute will be internationally recognized as an exemplary way to conduct collaborative international research,” says Kolars.
“We hope to enhance our ability to attract excellent researchers, excellent students and grants and endowments that fund breakthroughs that can make a difference in health care.”
Kolars says U-M already has 19 Medical School departments collaborating with 31 Chinese universities including a joint laboratory. In the University of Michigan Health System, there are 1,080 employees holding Chinese citizenship.
The University of Michigan was ranked sixth in the world for its impact on clinical medicine based on the impact of scientific studies from world universities in a 2009 ranking from the Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan.
“Being positioned globally is key to meeting our mission. It is critical to developing innovative health and education models and being at the forefront of research. To continue to enhance our presence as a global medical school, we have to collaborate with China,” says James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., Dean of the U-M Medical School and Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine.
Because of its size, Peking University also offers a tremendous chance to gather patient data. The Peking health centers have 6,688 beds, compared to U-M Health System’s 930. On a daily basis, Peking has 32,431 outpatient visits; U-M has 6,411. Peking has 1,810 emergency room visits daily compared to 319 at U-M.
In August 2009, a leadership team including Woolliscroft visited four institutions in China. Peking University had the best match for research interests and its similar governing structure made it a good fit.
An executive board made up of both U-M and Peking University leaders will define the scope of the collaboration, set priorities and oversee a strategic plan to ensure the success of the joint institute.
“In this ever-shrinking world, we want to work together to create the future of medicine for our global community,” says Ora Pescovitz, M.D., Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs and Chief Executive Officer of the U-M Health System.
Pescovitz will serve on the joint institute’s executive board along with Kolars, Woolliscroft, Steve Forrest, U-M’s Vice President for Research and Steve Kunkel, Senior Associate Dean for Research for the Medical School.
“This kind of partnership will give our Medical School the kind of exposure to new ideas, new ways of thinking and the problems facing our world. Without that, we can’t make the major discoveries that we strive for and that we are committed to achieve,” says Pescovitz.
About U-M Medical School: U-M receives over $330 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, ranking it among the top 10 funded research schools in the country. The Medical School was tied for sixth among the top 10 medical schools and received one of the top five highest scores by residence program directors from across the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.