October 13, 2023

Welcoming the first Joint Institute Collaboration Scholars to Ann Arbor

Drs. Yuqing Wang (left) and Yuzhou Gan will spend one year in Ann Arbor as Joint Institute Collaboration Scholars.

Two visiting physician researchers from China are the first participants of a new program intended to bolster scholarly exchange between Michigan Medicine and Peking University Health Science Center (PKUHSC).

Drs. Yuqing Wang and Yuzhou Gan will spend one year in Ann Arbor as Joint Institute (JI) Collaboration Scholars. The new program aims to prepare early-career scholars to transform collaborative medical education, research, and/or patient care between Michigan Medicine and its longest-running institutional partner in China.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about and practice scientific research techniques,” said Wang, MD, PhD. “I also like the idea of being in a new culture and a new environment, and helping to expand collaborations between our two institutions.”

Wang is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Basic Medical Research in Peking University Third Hospital. Interested in cancer immunology, she is working in the lab of Celina Kleer, the Harold A. Oberman Collegiate Professor of Pathology at UMMS, on projects around breast cancer and the function of select proteins that regulate (or fail to regulate) cell division.

Gan, MD, PhD, is an attending physician at Peking University People’s Hospital in the department of Rheumatology and Immunology. He is paired with UMMS Associate Professor of Rheumatology Jason Knight, whose lab focuses on antiphospholipid syndrome (APS), an autoimmune disorder that impacts blood vessels and increases the risk of clots. Knight has an ongoing JI research collaboration with counterparts at PKUHSC. They approached Gan about the opportunity to spend a year in Knight’s lab to advance the research.

“We’re thrilled to have Dr. Gan join us. A primary goal of his visit is to establish cutting-edge methodologies around patient profiling that can be shared between our site and PKUHSC, an important first step toward eventual targeted interventional studies at both sites,” said Knight, MD. “APS is a relatively rare disease that can only be effectively studied through multisite collaboration. Partnership is essential.”

Gan and Wang have been in Ann Arbor for about a month. A third JI scholar, Xujie Zhou, is expected to arrive in the coming weeks to join the lab of UMMS Professor of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics Matthais Kretzler, who has several ongoing JI projects exploring aspects of renal disease.

JI leaders are currently recruiting Michigan Medicine faculty mentors for the next round of Collaboration Scholars in the 2024-25 academic year. Scholars are provided with a stipend and benefits, as well as funds for research. In addition to their lab work, the program incorporates formal instruction on aspects of administration and management, communication, grantsmanship, and more. The application window remains open through December 1, 2023.

“I would not miss the chance to go abroad to learn more about research and expand my horizons,” Gan said. “I am very grateful for this opportunity through the Joint Institute.”