How We Collaborate

In healthcare and medical science, our ability to reach out beyond our own institutions – and indeed 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. Together, we understand that global challenges demand collaborations like the Joint Institute, pairing up some the best minds in the world to tackle problems that transcend national borders, languages, cultures and politics.

But creating – and then sustaining – institution-level collaborations across different cultures is easier said than done. There are different governance structures, funding mechanisms, and institutional protocols to contend with. What’s more, dissimilar cultures, if not properly addressed, can lead to confusion about investigator roles, authorship criteria, and more. Untested assumptions about how things work in one institution can rarely be generalized to the partner institution. Simply working across multiple languages and disparate time zones can present practical challenges to communication.

Whereas many international academic collaborations ultimately wither under such challenges, our Joint Institute has thrived. In less than 10 years, we’ve launched nearly 50 joint research projects to date, work that has helped more than 100,000 patients across both China and the United States, has already garnered dozens of publications, and is attracting millions in extramural funding.  

What accounts for our success? Trust, first and foremost. From the leadership level down to our individual research teams, a commitment to establishing trust, maintaining transparency, and being willing to see good intentions on both sides is essential. The different perspectives that we all bring to the partnership bring are not merely tolerated, but celebrated. Our JI faculty are encouraged to develop projects jointly with mutual input. Our unique enabling “Cores” offer the necessary institutional resources to help them mitigate and resolve issues that do arise. And frequent exchange programs and annual symposia provide opportunities to extend the collaborations beyond emails, texts, telephone calls, and video chats.

None of this easy or automatic. True collaboration requires hard work and a sustained commitment to a shared goal, one from which both sides derive tangible benefit. Our Joint Institute has become a model for such collaboration and we are proud to support this important partnership promoting health and healthcare advancements that mean so much to the world we share.