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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 12, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 34
Johns Hopkins, Tsinghua University Establish BME Research Center in Beijing

Kristina Johnson of Johns Hopkins and Jining Chen of Tsinghua University congratulate each other after signing a memorandum of understanding establishing the Tsinghua-Johns Hopkins Joint Center for Biomedical Engineering Research. Others from Johns Hopkins who participated in the ceremony, held earlier this year in Beijing, are, from the left: Xiaoqin Wang, Andrew Douglas, Elliot McVeigh and Nick Jones.

By Philip Rink Jr.
Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute

Johns Hopkins' Department of Biomedical Engineering and Tsinghua University, one of the largest and most well-regarded research universities in China, have established the Tsinghua-Johns Hopkins Joint Center for Biomedical Engineering Research, to be housed on Tsinghua University's campus in Beijing.

The center will provide state-of-the-art research opportunities, including joint research projects, exchange of visiting scholars and students, joint educational initiatives, conferences and technical assistance.

At a ceremony in Beijing where the agreement between the two schools was signed earlier this year, Kristina Johnson, Johns Hopkins provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said, "Our hope is that this is the beginning of future partnerships that will extend across many disciplines and herald collaboration in many different areas."

Xiaoqin Wang, a professor of biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins, serves as the inaugural director of the center. "In the past 20 years, biomedical engineering has progressed rapidly in the United States, as well as in China," Wang said. "These rapid developments present unprecedented opportunities to biomedical engineering researchers in both countries."

The center formalizes what had been a strong but informal relationship between the two universities. "This joint center represents the effort by the faculty in biomedical engineering departments at both universities during the past three years, and the exchanges between our two departments in the past decade," Wang said.

Elliot McVeigh, director of Johns Hopkins' Department of Biomedical Engineering, added, "The commitment in China to the development of a world-class research enterprise is extraordinarily impressive. The opportunities this presents to our students and faculty are very broad and dynamic."

Johns Hopkins and Tsinghua will exchange undergraduate students in a summer internship program. Tsinghua will send doctoral students to Johns Hopkins laboratories to work on projects involving researchers from both schools. Johns Hopkins faculty members will travel to Tsinghua to teach or study during sabbatical leave, while Tsinghua faculty will work at Johns Hopkins as visiting scholars.

Initially, research undertaken at the center will be mainly in the areas of neuro- engineering and neuroscience, medical imaging, tissue engineering, and biology in medicine. The center's offices and administrative functions initially will be funded by Tsinghua University, with programs such as academic exchange and symposia funded by both schools.

Johns Hopkins and Tsinghua have shared a close connection since their early days. In the 1920s, William Henry Welch, the first dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, traveled to China several times and was instrumental in founding the Peking Union Medical College, the medical school of Tsinghua University.


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