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Joe Tucker and Weiming Tang

Joe Tucker, MD, PhD, and Weiming Tang, PhD, co-directors of UNC Project-China announce a new scholarly exchange program that will give early-career researchers from the U.S. the opportunity to train in China. The China Medical Board (CMB) has awarded UNC a $340,000 grant to facilitate the CMB Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. UNC is one of three institutions selected, in addition to Yale University and Michigan University.

The grant will not only restart clinical training experiences that had to pause during COVID, says Dr. Tucker, it will offer high-level links to global health leadership that can take training in China to a new level.

“The China Medical Board is a unique funder in the Chinese landscape, and we are grateful for this support and that of our partner schools. UNC has a long tradition of mentorship for early career researchers in China, with a strong research infrastructure that allows career researchers to come in and make a difference,” said Tucker.

The new program will be open to scholars from UNC, as well as other U.S. institutions. Selected participants will be placed at one of three institutions for a minimum of one-year for a mentored research experience, working on projects to bolster their research skills and building sustainable collaborative relationships. These include Guangzhou’s Southern Medical University, Nanjing Medical University, and Hong Kong University. Participants will have completed a doctoral or equivalent degree in a relevant field (e.g., MD, PhD, DDS, PharmD, DVM).

Tang says that in many ways, this opportunity could be compared to global health diplomacy, by strengthening collaborations between the U.S. and China, especially for infectious diseases research.

“Not only will this program provide training for the next generation of U.S. academic leaders, it will also help to build strong collaborations between the world’s two largest scientific communities. We are proud that UNC Project-China will have a central role.”

UNC Project-China has a long history of organizing mentored clinical research. The first foreign member of the Chinese Community Party, Ma Haide, did his undergraduate work at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Myron Cohen was one of the first Western physicians to visit China when he took his family in 1979 to southern China.

UNC Project-China formally launched with support from an NIH Fogarty Global Infectious Diseases D43 Training grant, and subsequent trainees have been supported by the Fogarty Fellowship, the Fulbright Program, the Rhodes Trust, and the Doris Duke Medical Scholar Program. UNC Project-China trainees have published over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, including manuscripts in The Lancet, The Lancet Infectious Diseases, PLoS Medicine, and The Lancet HIV. The scientific discoveries have facilitated multi-year grants now supported by an NIAID R01 study (R01AI158826), two R34 studies, several WHO contracts, and grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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