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:
“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.