November 5, 2018

2018 Symposium in Ann Arbor a success

Nearly 100 of China’s top physician researchers visited Ann Arbor for the eighth annual Joint Institute Symposium between Michigan Medicine and Peking University Health Science Center (PKUHSC).

The largest meeting yet between researchers at the two institutions, the three-day Symposium took place in October 2018 and included sessions on cancer research, medical education, addiction, dental health, and more, as well as time for individual collaborators to advance dozens of ongoing JI projects.

“Our ability to reach out beyond our own institutions – and beyond our own borders – is vitally important. As our world gets smaller, the inverse is true of our problems. They get bigger and more complex,” said U-M President Mark Schlissel in his welcome address to open the meeting. “Together, we understand that global challenges demand collaborations that bring together some of the best minds in the world to think big and tackle problems that transcend language, culture and politics.”

Since its launch in 2010, the JI has funded nearly 50 projects, research that has garnered 60-plus high-impact publications and more than $14 million in external funding to date.

Recent expansions have included more projects in areas such as emergency medicine, psychiatry and mental health, precision medicine, and medical education. There were ten new awards this year, the largest cohort yet.

“It’s gratifying to think about how far we’ve come. In eight short years, the JI has become a model for how institutions can sustain meaningful collaborations through common goals, shared values, and mutual respect,” said JI Co-director Joseph Kolars, UMMS Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives. “I’m grateful to my colleagues at PKUHSC and to the dedicated faculty on both sides who continue to advance this important partnership.”

Kolars co-directs the JI with PKUHSC Vice President Ning Zhang, PhD, a Johns Hopkins-trained molecular biologist who recently joined the faculty at PKUHSC. The recent JI Symposium marked Zhang’s first.

“I am very enthusiastic about the research programs I’ve seen here (at UMMS) and excited about the JI partnership. While we have many international partnerships, the JI is our top priority,” he said. “We’ve never organized a program like it with any school before. Our leadership is engaged. More important, our faculty are very excited about this collaboration.”