The curtains have fallen on yet another enriching and insightful journey – the 2023 UNC Project-China / SESH /GDDH Annual Conference. This annual gathering, which, after a three-year suspension, resumed on October 11th and 12th, served as a platform for professionals, community partners, and researchers from various fields to exchange insights, discuss findings, and foster collaboration.
The annual conference is built upon the UNC Project-China community and beyond, providing a forum for converging diverse perspectives and investigating innovative approaches to health challenges. Originating from various parts of the world, the participants came together to promote community-driven healthcare interventions, implementation science, and research.
The first day started with a warm welcome from Prof. Cheng Wang, Vice President of the Dermatology Hospital of Southern Medical University. The opening remarks, alongside Prof. Joseph D. Tucker, Director of the UNC Project-China and Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, set the tone for two days of dynamic discussions. We also had the pleasure of hearing from Prof. Weiming Tang, Co-Director of the UNC Project-China Office, and Dan Wu, Professor of Nanjing Medical University and NISE (Network of Implementation Science for Population Health).
Their collective insights emphasized the significance of collaborative efforts in advancing research and community-driven healthcare interventions. Attendees were led through concise research presentations, demonstrating the scope and complexity of ongoing projects. Colleagues from UNC Project-China and the Dermatology Hospital took the spotlight in the morning session, presenting their findings on topics including innovative prevention and treatment strategies for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well as social innovation in health research. Social innovation in health refers to a community-engaged process that links social change and health improvement, drawing on the diverse strengths of local individuals and institutions. The morning session was also set for early career researchers to showcase their discoveries, covering a wide array of subjects, including the doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis, harm reduction among sexual minorities, partner notification and uptake of syphilis testing and HPV screening among women who are living with HIV.
The afternoon was devoted to capacity-building sessions on qualitative research and designathons for health and a thought-provoking session on exploring how cancer is understood in biomedical terms and the lack of visibility for alternative therapies in urban Tanzania. There was also a panel discussion about applying for a PhD. The day concluded with an open dialogue with community partners, emphasizing the importance of engagement and cooperation beyond the academic realm.
The Pay-it-forward Symposium on the Second Day unfolded with engaging discussions on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) for HPV vaccination and hepatitis testing, the conceptual framework of Pay-it-forward, and implementation analyses and mechanism mapping. The insights gained from panel discussions concerning sustainability and co-creation underscored the importance of community involvement in the research process. In closing the symposium, participants were allowed to seek counsel from seasoned professionals through one-on-one mentor and mentee meetings. This session fostered relationships vital for future collaboration with various community-based organizations (CBOs) and hospital institutions and facilitated knowledge transfer.
The constructive dialogues and tangible outcomes proved the meeting’s success. A wide range of research presentations were presented at the meeting, embodying the complex and varied projects the UNC Project-China undertakes. In addition, the UNC Project-China was propelled by a collaborative spirit with community engagement, underscored by the open discussion and co-creation panels. We gained invaluable insights and strengthened our connections through actively engaging with community partners and organizations. The mentor and mentee meetings also allowed attendees to establish links with seasoned professionals, fostering an environment of mentorship and knowledge exchange. At last, the annual meeting functioned as a forum for exchanging perspectives, approaches, and discoveries, contributing to the dissemination of research within and beyond the UNC Project-China.
We sincerely appreciate all attendees, speakers, organizers, and community partners contributing significantly to the successful annual meeting. The UNC Project China community remains committed to advancing research, implementing evidence-based interventions, and positively impacting global health.
Stay tuned for future endeavors and continued collaboration.