News and Events

September 2016

This edition of the newsletter previews the Sixth Annual JI Symposium, which is being hosted at the University of Michigan for the third time. Inside, find the schedule and confirmed speakers and panel information. Also find information about the newest JI research proposals to receive funding: eight projects that are sure to advance science and health in both China and the US. We’ll also examine a new PUHSC/U-M collaboration being funded by a prestigious Fulbright Distinguished Chair award – a project rooted in a meeting at the 2014 JI Symposium.

JI partnerships aren’t just about faculty; students and physicians-in-training benefit, too. Read about a U-M resident’s influential rotation with PUHSC, as well as several medical students who are now published authors after working in China under JI mentors.

Indeed, we have much to celebrate. Our institutional relationship continues to thrive to the benefit of our colleagues and students, to say nothing of the many future discoveries that will no doubt improve healthcare for people everywhere. Please enjoy this issue and we look forward to seeing many of you at this year’s JI Symposium. Read the September 2016 Newsletter here.

July 2016

Several medical students are now published authors following the completion of international research projects under the guidance of Hepatology Professor and longtime student mentor Anna Suk-Fong Lok, MD.

Dr. Lok’s projects explored aspects of liver disease treatment and care and included extensive on-the-ground research in China. The resulting publications, in recent issues of Digestive Diseases & Sciences and Liver International, garnered author credits for four U-M Medical School students: Fanny Du, Jiaxin Huang, Mary Guan, and Jeremy Balch.

“It’s a great experience for the students,” said Dr. Lok. “My satisfaction comes in seeing that they learned something about research and the practice of medicine in another country, and that the experience helped their careers.”

In addition to the four UMMS students, three undergraduate students, Angela Xie, Shanna Cheng and Cassandra Rodd, also contributed to the projects and are credited co-authors.

Fourth-year University of Michigan Medical School student Fanny Du visited in China the summer of 2014 on a Global REACH scholarship. She and Angela Xi surveyed hundreds of patients seen in liver disease clinics about their care experience. Those results were compared against data from patients seen in Ann Arbor liver clinics. The findings, A Comparative Study of Liver Disease Care in the USA and Urban and Rural China, have been published online ahead of print in Digestive Diseases and Sciences.

“My goal is to work with immigrant populations, so understanding the differences in the healthcare systems in the US and elsewhere will make me a better physician,” Ms. Du said. “The differences we saw were eye opening. The clinics in Beijing are crowded. People don’t make appointments and so they might wait for hours to see a doctor for five minutes. I could see why patients might be less satisfied with their care there (compared to patients in Ann Arbor), which is exactly what we found.”

A second study, Survey of Hepatitis B Knowledge and Stigma among Chronically Infected Patients and Uninfected Persons in Beijing, has also been published online ahead of print in Liver International. Third-year medical student Jiaxin Huang, along with fellow students Jeremy Balch and Mary Guan, spent several weeks in Beijing in the summer of 2015 interviewing more than 1,200 people to study stigma around hepatitis B, a prevalent disease in China. Global REACH supported their international experiences as well.

“Given our findings, we believe that public health education can improve understanding of transmission of hepatitis B and alleviate stigma towards the patients,” Ms. Huang said. “Furthermore, physicians can also actively counsel patients to reduce internal stigma. It was very satisfying to have this research published because we felt our results were important in that they revealed and quantified the stigma hepatitis B patients face every day.”

In addition to the publication, their project garnered a poster presentation at the 2015 Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association conference and an oral presentation, delivered by Ms. Huang, during the 2016 Digestive Disease Week conference held in San Diego in May.

“I mentor a lot of students, but this was the first time a student of mine was selected for an oral presentation at such a big meeting,” said Dr. Lok. “Jiaxin was speaking to a group of distinguished board-certified gastroenterologists who’ve been practicing for years or decades. You can imagine that it’s nerve wracking, but she did very well. I felt like a proud parent.”

July 2016

Dr. Michael Fetters won’t be attending this year’s Joint Institute Symposium in Ann Arbor.

But he has a good excuse.

This October will find the U-M Professor of Family Medicine in China midway through a Fulbright research project, the roots of which can be traced back to the 2014 Symposium and an encounter with a Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) colleague, Dr. Yali Cong.

“I had been thinking about submitting a Fulbright proposal for a while, but attending the Symposium and meeting Dr. Cong helped me crystalize my idea for the proposal,” said Dr. Fetters. “I realized that we shared a common interest in the way different cultures approach medical decision making.”

Dr. Cong is Dean of PUHSC’s Department of Medical Humanities and a professor of medical ethics. She and Dr. Fetters developed a plan to examine Chinese physicians’ attitudes about approaches to disclosing cancer and cancer decision making. The proposal garnered Dr. Fetters a 2016 Fulbright Distinguished Chair award in Social Sciences, one of Fulbright’s most prestigious honors. Beginning late summer, he will spend five months at PUHSC, teaching a mixed-methods research course and working with Dr. Cong on their joint research project.

“If I’d not attended the Symposium, it’s fair to say that the proposal would’ve been much, much different,” Dr. Fetters said. “You never know who you will meet at these events and what ideas it might spark.”

This year marks the sixth annual U-M PUHSC JI Symposium, an opportunity for current partners to showcase their research to JI colleagues, as well as a chance to meet new collaborators for future projects. The event takes place Oct. 12-14 in Ann Arbor and registration is now open.

On this year’s schedule are keynote addresses from UMHS Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Marschall Runge, MD, and PUHSC President Qi-Min Zhan, MD, as well as panel discussions, a poster presentation and more. Faculty members from medical school as well as other health-related schools are welcome to attend (e.g., Public Health, Pharmacy, Bioengineering, and Nursing).

May 2016

The Joint Institute (JI) for Translational and Clinical Research is touted as a successful institutional partnership in a paper recently published in Academic Medicine.

The article, written by leaders of the JI and e-published ahead of a future print edition of the journal, highlights best practices, lessons and significant outcomes to emerge from the University of Michigan Health Systems’ partnership with Peking University Health Science Center. Detailed are the leadership and governance models for the partnership.

“Institution-level collaborative partnerships across cultures are not without their challenges … including differences in governance structures, funding mechanisms … and intellectual property laws,” write the paper’s eight authors, led by Dr. Joseph Kolars, MD, U-M Senior Associate Dean for Education and Global Initiatives. “One of the foundational aspects of the JI is that all decisions are made jointly … with a clear understanding that all decisions, including the dispersion of funds, will be agreed upon by both institutions.”

That approach, according the authors, has proven effective. Since established in 2010, the JI has funded 25 joint research projects involving more than 100,000 patients in both the U.S. and China. Those projects have produced 13 peer-reviewed publications and counting. In addition to research funding provided through the JI by the partner universities, principal investigators in various projects have secured more than $3 million in extramural funding. The partnership appears on track for long-term sustainability.

“We are optimistic about the future of the JI because this model has been deemed valuable by the presidents of both institutions and has gained wide support among faculty,” the authors note. “We aim to position investigators to compete successfully for funding opportunities within China and the United States and to advance … our mutual understanding of health and diseases that affect the populations of both countries.”

View the abstract and download a full copy of the report here.

May 2016

In this issue, we are pleased to share with you some of the research and educational exchanges between PUHSC and UMMS that have taken place over the past few months. In addition, we highlight the activities of the myocardial infarction project. We also provide updates on other research programs and the Cores, and an update on the 2016 JI Call for Proposals.

Finally, we remind you of the upcoming 6th Annual Joint Institute Symposium, which will take place in Ann Arbor, Michigan October 12-14, 2016. Details are still emerging, but please put this on your calendars. Read the Arpil 2016 Newsletter here.

February 2016

The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) and the Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research is accepting joint proposals from investigators working collaboratively at both institutions for funding of projects that will demonstrate an effective team approach to discovery and new findings on diseases relative to both countries, and which can be leveraged for extramural funding opportunities. Full RFP is available here.


The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) and the Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research is accepting joint proposals that stimulate clinical trials on diseases of major relevance to the U.S. and China. The Executive Board aims to move scientific discoveries from the lab to the clinic to enhance treatment options, health outcomes, and clinical value. The JI is positioned to leverage the unique strengths of each of the partner institutions and facilitate clinical trials that impact diseases of mutual interest. Full RFP for clinical trial is available here.

December 2015

We are so pleased to share with you that the Fifth Annual Symposium for the Joint Institute was a resounding success. Also, we are excited to announce that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UMHS and PUHSC was
renewed for another five years, which means that JI started its phase II in October and will continue through 2020.

In this issue, you will find a report from the JI Executive Board, a synopsis of the milestones for the first five years, and highlights from the symposium. In addition, we share some recent education and training news of UM and PUHSC students. As we move into 2016, a call for new proposals will be announced in January. Read the December 2015 Newsletter here.

October 2015

We are so pleased to tell you that planning is complete for the annual symposium, which will be held in Beijing October 26-28, 2015. Attendance is expected to exceed the first four meetings and will include several new faces. A snapshot of the symposium can be found on page 8 of this newsletter.

In this issue, we announce the newly funded JI investigative teams and projects. We also share with you some of the research and educational exchanges between PUHSC and UMMS that have taken place over the past few months. In addition, we highlight the activities of the Acute Aortic Dissection (AAD) project and provide updates on other research programs. Finally, we are pleased to share information about President Schlissel’s recent visit to PUHSC. Read the September 2015 Newsletter here.

April 2015

It is our pleasure to present to you the most recent issue of the Joint Institute (JI) newsletter. In this issue, we provide updates from the 2015 JI Call for Proposals, scholarly exchanges, and updates from the JI programs and cores. In addition, we highlight the activities of the Intracerebral Hemorrhage project which was just awarded a R01 NIH grant. Finally, we include a brief announcement on the upcoming Fifth Annual JI Symposium, which will be held in Beijing October 26-28, 2015. Read the April 2015 Newsletter here.