Disease knows no boundaries: A partnership with China
Written by Kara Gavin
ANN ARBOR – Lung disease. Liver disease. Cardiovascular disease. Whether you live in China or the U.S., you’re likely to develop a chronic condition affecting at least one of these systems sometime in your life. So are hundreds of millions of other people worldwide.
That’s why researchers are working hard to find ways to better understand, prevent, treat and manage these diseases.
This week, researchers from the University of Michigan and their Chinese partners are reporting new results from collaborative research on the illnesses at a three-day symposium. The event is sponsored by the U-M Health System (UMHS) and the Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC) – the most prestigious comprehensive medical institution in China.
The symposium, which has attracted a large Chinese delegation, marks the second anniversary of the partnership: the UMHS-PUHSC Joint Institute for Translational and Clinical Research. Both sides fund cooperative translational and clinical research projects as well as research cores to support the science.
Two years into the partnership, the research programs are fully operational. Six projects have already been approved by institutional review boards – independent ethics committees that oversee research involving human volunteers. Research participant enrollment has begun, and sample collection and analysis are underway.
Teams made up of scientists from U-M and PUHSC are studying the genetics of several cardiovascular disease components, including high density lipoprotein dysfunction (high cholesterol), high blood pressure and myocardial infarction (heart attacks).
They’re looking at liver diseases, such as hepatitis C infection, to identify biomarkers that could predict and monitor progression to fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and cancer. They’re also researching the social, cultural and economic aspects of liver transplantation.
Lung disease is another focus, especially the role that the respiratory microbiome – the assortment of microorganisms in the lungs — plays in the development and course of lung disease.
This week’s symposium brings to Michigan a delegation of more than 50 colleagues, including representatives from the PUHSC Schools of Basic Medical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Public Health, Nursing and Foundational Education as well as five affiliated hospitals. The event follows last year’s trip by a U-M delegation to Beijing for the Joint Institute’s first symposium. (Read more about that trip in this blog: http://umchinamed.org/.)
For a longer version of this story: http://uofmhealth.org/news/
For more on the Joint Institute and this week’s event: http://www.puuma.org/
Gavin is a science/medical writer, media relations officer and communications advisor at the U-M Health System.