Yale looks to form ties with Chinese medical schools

Chinese President Hu Jintao may not have come to Yale Thursday, but University officials plan to make their own high-profile appearance in China later this month.

Yale President Richard Levin and other officials will meet with leaders of universities in Beijing and Shanghai to forge new partnerships, bridging medical and engineering programs between Yale and China. University Secretary Linda Lorimer, School of Medicine Dean Robert Alpern and two science professors will accompany Levin on the trip, which will run from September 19 to 24.

“We’re looking to take some of our programs in China to the next level,” Levin said. “I think the main thing that is interesting and actually fascinating about China is the number of very bright people in leadership roles.”

The Yale delegation will participate in the centennial celebration of Fudan University in Shanghai, where Levin will receive an honorary professorship in economics.

Alpern said the group will meet leaders of three medical schools in China, including Fudan.

“The trip is mostly in order to develop a closer relationship with these schools, which are really the premiere schools in China,” Alpern said. “We can do a lot for each other, and we hope to work on creating some collaborative educational programs.”

Alpern will deliver a lecture before the Medical Association of China, which will be broadcast to hundreds of hospitals around the country by satellite. Yale genetics professor Tian Xu said the delegation will also visit three top Chinese hospitals.

A major goal of the visit, Xu said, is to negotiate funding for talented Chinese students who apply to Yale’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences graduate program.

“Currently in our BBS graduate program, we receive a lot of foreign applicants, but we do not have funds to support those students,” he said. “The reason is that funding that comes from the National Institutes of Health is restricted to U.S. citizens. We would like to accept more of the best students around the world, and so we hope that these universities in China could initially fund Chinese applicants.”

As part of the centennial celebration, the delegation will visit the Fudan-Yale Center for Education Cooperation and Fudan-Yale Biomedical Research Center, of which Xu is director.

Xu said there are deep ties between Fudan and Yale — Fudan’s first president and the founder of its medical school were both Yale alumni.

Levin will also participate in a forum on integrating urban development and higher education with foreign university presidents and Shanghai’s mayor, said Assistant Secretary for International Affairs Fawn Wang.

Officials from the two schools will unveil a stone commemorating friendship and exchange between the institutions during the trip.

Following the stop at Fudan, Levin and the delegation will jet 900 miles north to Beijing, to participate in the official signing ceremony opening a new microelectronics and nanotechnology center run jointly by Yale and Peking University. Electrical Engineering Chair T.P. Ma, who will join Levin in Beijing, will run the center along with Peking University professor Wang Yangyuan.

Ma said the new center, funded in part by the Chinese government, will permit the two universities to pool their resources and improve the quality of research. There are fewer students at Yale studying electrical engineering than at Peking University, and opening such a center in New Haven would be more difficult, Ma said.

“We have excellent faculty, but much fewer students,” Ma said. “We have a lot of good research ideas at the forefront of microelectronics and nanotechnology, but we don’t have enough people to carry out research.”

Levin will also tour facilities and student dorms at Peking University in anticipation of a new collaboration between Yale and Peking University anticipated to begin next fall in Beijing. The program will include students and professors from both schools.

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