While U.S.-China relations have recently been treading on unstable ground, American-British relations could grow a little stronger thanks to cooperation between Yale and a peer institution on the other side of the Atlantic.

Last week, University officials met with Kenneth Michael Spyer, dean of the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, to discuss the prospect of collaboration on medical research between the two schools. Royal Free, one of the colleges of the University of London, is one of England’s largest and most prestigious medical schools, specializing in basic and applied research in medicine and related medical sciences.

Although no formal agreement has been forged, officials at Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research are excited about the possibility of collaborating with the another internationally prominent institution.

“There is a pretty clear overlap in research programs at Yale and research programs in the U.K.,” John Swartley, associate director of cooperative research at Yale, said. “Although we’re peer institutions on opposite sides of the Atlantic and similar in so many ways, in the past we haven’t had a strong connection. There are many possibilities and opportunities to work together.”

According to Swartley, last week’s preliminary meetings served to outline such possibilities.

If both institutions share information and techniques with one another, this cooperation could result in accelerated and more effective medical-science research.

But the benefits would not be limited to the medical research sector. New Haven would also likely see increased funding for its already-booming biotechnology industry.

Although discussions are just getting started and there is no set timetable for collaboration to begin, Swartley said the Office of Cooperative Research is eager to follow up on the early meetings and anticipates additional talks in the near future.

Spyer often comes to this side of the pond, which will make setting up future meetings convenient.

“We had the first of what we hope are a number of meetings,” Swartley said. “We’ve opened up a channel of dialogue and we’re excited about the possibilities.”

The meetings were set up with the help of Harry Penner Jr., president and chief executive officer of Neurogen Corp., which is a New Haven-based biotechnology firm and an advisor to Winchester Capital Technology Partners LLC. That firm advises Freedmedic PLC, Royal Free’s equivalent of Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research. Penner was unavailable for comment.