Northwestern Research Strengthens Partnerships in China

Core facilities, chemistry, clinical rotations among topics discussed during two-week visit to Changchun, Beijing

By Roger AndersonNovember 15, 2018

Northwestern’s Core Facilities stepped onto a global stage this fall as University research leaders presented a case study for success to a trio of prestigious Chinese universities.

As guests of Jilin University’s School of Chemistry, Phil Hockberger, associate vice president for research, and Xinkun Wang, director of the NUSeq Core Facility and a research associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics, visited Jilin in Changchun as well as Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing.

“China is investing heavily in state-of-the-art research facilities, but there is recognition that the country also needs a globally trained workforce,” says Hockberger. “It’s hard to find a high-profile researcher in China who hasn’t traveled overseas for their doctoral and postdoctoral studies.”

Northwestern has existing relationships with Tsinghua and Peking universities; with his visit, Hockberger enhanced connections between The Graduate School and Jilin’s chemistry alumni. During the 2017-18 academic year, Northwestern welcomed to its Chicago and Evanston campuses more than 1,400 students and 500 scholars from China, a nation where nearly 2,500 Northwestern alumni reside.

“Our best collaborations are faculty driven and we are committed to expanding and deepening existing partnerships — like those at Tsinghua and Peking — while also exploring new opportunities,” says Dévora Grynspan, vice president for international relations.  Her office provides leadership and related to international efforts on campus.

Hockberger met with Grynspan and Emily Wilson, director for international relations, two months ahead of his September 19 to 29 trip to discuss existing partnerships, protocols, gifts, and other details. The three have also conducted multiple debriefs to discuss what was learned, as well as possible next steps.

While at Peking University, Hockberger discussed details of the Feinberg School of Medicine’s clinical rotations there. He also was able to enhance the partnership to include opportunities for future research. At Jilin, Hockberger and Wang were introduced to the president of the university and faculty in chemistry, the life sciences, law, and business.

“We toured core facilities at all three institutions and spent about a week in Beijing discussing our successes and strengthening partnerships that we hope will continue to develop,” says Hockberger, who is also working to establish an international core facilities conference in the Chinese capital. “The conference would serve as a professional development opportunity for the core facility workforce in China, while also bringing together a diverse set of global thought leaders — including those from Northwestern.”

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