Intensifying ties with China

Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber with CSU Vice-President, Professor Zhuohua Zhang.
Flinders Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Barber, with CSU Vice-President, Professor Zhuohua Zhang.

An agreement between China’s Central South University (CSU) and Flinders University will intensify links between the institutions, and includes the setting up of research laboratories on each other’s campuses.

The new Memorandum of Understanding was signed during a visit to Flinders by a delegation of seven senior staff from Central South University headed by CSU Vice-President, Professor Zhuohua Zhang. CSU is located in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province.

Flinders Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Barber said the new collaborations build on existing research links in biotechnology, nursing, ophthalmology, orthopaedics and neuroscience as well as medical education.

“In a very short time, CSU has become one of Flinders’ most significant research partners,” Professor Barber said.

“Flinders and CSU both see great potential to grow our engagement, and the two laboratories will act as a focus and a conduit for collaborative research programs and exchanges of staff, students and expertise.”

Cancer researcher and surgeon Professor David Watson is to head a laboratory focused on cancer genetics at CSU. Professor Watson will spend several weeks in Changsha each year supervising postgraduate students and leading research that will employ CSU’s powerful gene-sequencing capacity.

Vice-President and neuroscientist Professor Zhuohua Zhang, who was made an honorary professor of Flinders University during the visit, will direct the laboratory at Flinders, which will be run by a CSU nominee.

Other CSU staff on the visit were Professor Chen Xiaohong, Dean of the Business School; Professor Liang Shuquan, Dean of the School of Materials Science and Engineering; Professor Chen Fangping, President of CSU’s Third Xiangya Hospital; Professor Xia Kun, Dean of the School of Life Science; Mr Jeffery Gao Dongbo, Deputy Director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchange; and Professor Wang Honghong, Deputy Dean of the School of Nursing.

As well as holding discussions with their Flinders counterparts on possible areas for collaboration in nursing, nanotechnology and business, the CSU staff visited the Flinders rural GP training program in the Barossa Valley.

Following the establishment last year with CSU of the joint China-Australia General Practitioner Education, Training and Research Centre in Changsha, Flinders is developing a Master in General Practice Leadership and Education as part of a suite of postgraduate courses for China.

The Centre is a platform for Chinese medical students to become part of the nation’s first wave of GPs. A national strategy to move China’s health system away from hospital-based care aims to produce some 400,000 qualified GPs by 2020.

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