(HOUSTON) — Launching a new educational initiative with the Far East, the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology today signed a memorandum of agreement with East China Normal University in Shanghai that will permit its students to enroll in one of the Ph.D. programs available in the HSC-Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

“Certainly at IBT, no can doubt the importance of research, as there is so much work going on at a nano-level and led by some of the finest scientists right here,” said Nancy W. Dickey, M.D., President of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs for the Texas A&M University System. “It’s particularly pleasing to find people around the world, such as East China Normal University, who want to join forces. All of us will benefit from the discoveries that come about and the relationships we make as a result of this collaboration.”

East China Normal University (ECNU) is a comprehensive research university with more than 1,700 full-time teachers covering science, liberal arts, management, engineering, law, education, philosophy, history and economics. It has 18 full-time schools with 44 departments offering 63 undergraduate, 170 master’s and 130 doctoral programs. There are approximately 26,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

At least initially, all of the accepted ECNU students in its College of Life Sciences will take part in the HSC-GSBS Ph.D. program available through the HSC-IBT at its location in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. The program will broaden the research experience of ECNU students, contribute to an excellent learning experience and foster further cooperation, officials with both institutions said.

“It really is our pleasure to attend this special event,” said Lizhong Yu, Ph.D., ECNU president. “We feel it is so important for our university to develop closer links with distinguished institutes and universities around the world like IBT. We are very happy to sign this agreement and establish a long-term strategic relationship with IBT.”

As part of the five-year agreement, each institution will promote the exchange of faculty as visiting professors and visiting scholars for teaching and collaborative research programs.

“IBT itself has trained many Chinese graduate students, some of whom have stayed here while some have returned to China to help develop very sophisticated research programs there,” said Robert Schwartz, Ph.D., director of HSC-IBT. “This program lets us bring in the best and brightest scientific minds from China to come to Houston and to further the important research of IBT. China has become a major trading partner for the United States. Now, China will become a major training partner for us.”

Representing the HSC at the IBT-ECNU memorandum of agreement signing were Dr. Dickey; Dr. Schwartz; and David S. Carlson, Ph.D., Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. ECNU was represented by Dr. Yu; Qun Chen, Ph.D., Vice President; and Wei-Jing Qu, Dean of the College of Life Sciences. Roderick McCallum, Ph.D., Vice President for Academic Affairs for the HSC, was unable to attend but did sign the agreement.

Also present were Texas Reps. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston, and Hubert Vo, D-Houston, both of whom presented an official proclamation from the Texas Legislature commending the agreement; Shixing Wu of the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Houston; John Kajander of the Texas Medical Center; and Brad Amendt, Ph.D., associate professor at HSC-IBT and director of its graduate program.

The Houston visit by the Chinese delegation followed the recent George Bush China-U.S. Relations Conference in Washington, D.C.

The HSC already has a similar program in place with Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey Tech) in Mexico.

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

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