Governor Heineman Tours Tongji University and Participates in Agreement with UNMC

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Governor Heineman Tours Tongji University and Participates in Agreement with UNMC

Gov. Dave Heineman today finalized an agreement between the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Tongji University to create one of the most extensive partnerships ever between U.S. and Chinese academic institutions. The Shanghai-U.S. Health Science Initiative (SSUHSI) is a collaborative health science partnership that involves educational, clinical and research components.

Gov. Dave Heineman today finalized an agreement between the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Tongji University to create one of the most extensive partnerships ever between U.S. and Chinese academic institutions. The Shanghai-U.S. Health Science Initiative (SSUHSI) is a collaborative health science partnership that involves educational, clinical and research components.

“This is truly a momentous occasion,” said Gov. Heineman. “To be a competitive force in today’s world, it is absolutely vital to have global partnerships. I am thrilled that these two great institutions have come together in this initiative. It will pay tremendous dividends for generations to come.”

The agreement will involve six different disciplines – medicine, physical therapy/rehabilitation, nursing, dentistry, public health and pharmacy, and will provide a myriad of new opportunities for students and faculty.

UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., and Gang Pei, Ph.D., President of Tongji University, were the chief architects of the partnership with Jialin C. Zheng, M.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Neurosciences and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies for UNMC, serving as the key intermediary between the two universities.

Other UNMC participants attending the ceremony will include: Jennifer Larsen, M.D., Vice Chancellor for Research; Bradley Britigan, M.D., Dean of the College of Medicine; and Michael Dixon, Ph.D., President of UNeMed, UNMC’s technology transfer company.

“UNMC is our No. 1 collaborator,” said Dr. Pei, who received an honorary doctorate degree from UNMC in May. “It is like family.”

The partnership elevates UNMC’s stature in China to a whole new level. “We have been working very hard over the past eight years to establish our university in China,” said Dr. Maurer. “This initiative is a transforming event that puts UNMC in an elite class among U.S. universities with a strong presence in China.”

Some of the key elements of the initiative include:

  • Development of a family medicine training program tailored to the needs of China and enhancing family medicine collaboration between the U.S. and China;
  • Development of a Research Collaborative Center that will focus primarily on research dealing with stem cells, Nano medicine, neuroscience and oncology;
  • Hospital administration training through UNMC’s hospital partner, The Nebraska Medical Center;
  • Up to 10 Chinese students annually will come to UNMC to seek doctoral degrees in medicine, physical therapy, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and public health (or a master’s degree in public health) or do their medical residency training. These students will be financially supported by the China Scholarship Council (CSC);
  • Health science students from UNMC would be offered the opportunity to be trained in China with educational experiences and clinical rotations coordinated through the initiative; and
  • Development of a collaborative training program for American and Chinese students enrolled in Tongji Medical School. UNMC faculty members will help with the curriculum development and integration. Medical students would receive clinical training in the six affiliate hospitals of Tongji University.

“This initiative has the potential of being quite innovative in several areas,” said Dr. Zheng. “China’s educational programs for physical therapists and pharmacists are lacking in comparison to U.S. programs. Additionally, China currently does not have a well-designed residency program for new physicians.” He noted that the city of Shanghai just pioneered a residency program a couple years ago.

“We want to continue this important work, and we want to do it right,” added Dr. Zheng. “By doing so, we hope to make it a model for all of China.”

Starting in August, two Chinese medical students will be enrolled in medical school at UNMC. Dr. Zheng said it will be the first time ever that the Chinese government (CSC) has funded medical training in the U.S. for Chinese students.

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