Published: 25-01-2013 00:00 | Updated: 26-11-2013 10:29

KI presents its strategy for partnering universities in China

[NEWS 25 January 2013] Karolinska Institutet, KI, has produced a strategy for extending its scientific collaborations with China. The strategy identifies a number of research fields that are particularly well suited for joint scientific activities with Chinese universities. The goal is to develop and strengthen scientific partnerships in which the Chinese university and KI complement each other successfully. This far-sighted plan has been submitted to the Swedish Research Council as an official Notification of interest of interest to apply for the funding earmarked for research collaborations with China to be announced later in the year.

KI currently has close contact with some 30 universities in China, and is engaged in around 70 joint projects. Since the 1980s, approximately 300 Chinese students have completed their PhDs at Karolinska Institutet, 20 per cent or so of whom have returned to China and, in certain cases, to top academic positions. Approximately ten per cent have made a career for themselves at KI, some having made it to professor.

"There are deep, firmly rooted relations between KI and universities in China," says Ingemar Ernberg, professor of tumour biology at the Department of Microbiology, Tumour and Cell Biology and scientific coordinator of Karolinska Institutet's China collaborations. "After consulting with these contacts, we've identified research fields that we consider particularly well suited for closer collaboration."

These fields are regenerative medicine (including neuroscience and stem cells), vascular biology, nanomedicine, cancer (including molecular epidemiology, genomics and tumour immunology), translational medicine and public health. One of the primary considerations is that all fields should be of mutual benefit to both countries research needs and healthcare development. For example, as regards translational medicine and public health, Sweden can benefit from the much greater Chinese population, while China wants to establish biobanks and patient registries along the lines of the Swedish model. Equivalent mutual gains can be found in all the research fields that Karolinska Institutet identifies in its China strategy. In the case of public health, the collaboration with such an important actor as China will serve the interests of public health on the global scale.

KI is now seeking to further develop its partnerships with Chinese universities and discussions are underway with some of the country's top ranking institutions regarding research collaborations as well as initiating exchange programmes at all levels, from bachelor to master level. The ultimate aim is to establish shared laboratory facilities at which KI scientists can lead joint research groups in China.

"The partner universities will be selected in view of the research fields that Karolinska Institutet has identified in its China strategy," says Professor Ernberg. "Crucially, financial investment must also be matched from the Chinese side, which will also be a measure of their commitment."

The Swedish Research Council (VR), the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS), and the Swedish Research Council Formas will be advertising an annual grant of at least SEK 5 million for research based on Sweden-China partnerships. Only universities with a strategic plan for collaboration with China can apply for these funds, which is why KI has just submitted its plan to the Swedish Research Council.

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