Collaboration Platforms in China for Translational and Clinical Research: The Partnership Between Peking University Health Science Center and the University of Michigan Medical School

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Abstract

Problem

Clinical and translational research is increasing in China, attracting faculty-to-faculty collaborations between U.S. and Chinese researchers. However, examples of successful institution-to-institution collaborations to facilitate this research are limited. The authors describe a partnership between Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) and the University of Michigan Medical School (UMMS) designed to enable faculty-initiated joint translational and clinical research projects.

Approach

In 2009, UMMS leadership identified PUHSC as the most appropriate institutional partner, and the Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research was established in 2010. Each contributed $7 million for joint research projects in areas of mutual interest. A shared governance structure, four thematic programs (pulmonary, cardiovascular, liver, and renal diseases), three joint research-enabling cores, and processes for awarding funding have been established along with methods for collaborating and mechanisms to share data and biomaterials.

Outcomes

As of November 2015, 52 joint faculty proposals have been submitted, and 25 have been funded. These projects have involved more than 100,000 patients in the United States and China and have generated 13 peer-reviewed publications. Pilot data have been leveraged to secure $3.3 million of U.S. extramural funding. Faculty and trainee exchanges take place regularly (including an annual symposium), and mechanisms exist to link faculty seeking collaborations. Critical determinants of success include having co-ownership at all levels with coinvestment of resources.

Next Steps

Each institution is committed to continuing its support with a repeat $7 million investment. Next steps include initiating studies in new clinical areas and pursuing large clinical intervention trials.

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