Spring 2015

Return to China

Harris Berman

Photo: Kelvin Ma

In my column recounting Tufts Medical School’s first exploratory trip to China (Tufts Medicine, Summer 2014), I noted that we were making the trip out of a sincere and long-standing sense of mutual interest between their medical system and our own.

The rapid transformation that is surging through China, driven by a booming economy, presents countless opportunities for new affiliations and opportunities for our school. We can’t ignore the moment. Accordingly, on our second trip over three weeks this past January, our team followed up on some initial contacts we made last time around and also branched out in one or two new directions.

We managed to ink two deals. The first involves a shared interest we have with National Yang Ming University, one of the most respected universities in Taiwan. They seek to offer their M.D. students an opportunity to study biomedical science in the United States and are interested in partnering with Tufts so their students can pause their M.D. degree and come to the Sackler School to complete a Ph.D.

Right now, Tufts’ M.D./Ph.D. program ranks among the smallest such programs in the United States. Through our new deal with Yang Ming, they will send us a group of their highest-achieving students who desire to become physician-scientists. They will earn their M.D. degree from Yang Ming in Taiwan, and their Ph.D. here at the Sackler School. For our part, we gain more substantial numbers in our M.D./Ph.D. program.

Another success on our trip was an agreement we signed with Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, the largest private health-care system in Taiwan. Through their health system, Chang Gung will offer an introductory course on traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to our students, who will be able to take it as an elective in Taiwan.

I can’t conclude without mentioning the exciting prospects of a proposal we discussed with officials at the University of Macau, a thriving public institution located about one hour by high-speed boat from Hong Kong.

Macau is a premium university of about 8,000 students, and they have plenty of money behind them, stemming from the colony’s rich gambling revenues. Now the university leaders have recognized one of Macau’s most imminent challenges to becoming a world-class city lies in its health-care delivery standards. This implies that adding a medical school to their campus, sometime in the future, seems inevitable. Tufts stands ready to advise them on this journey.

This new affiliation offers some tantalizing prospects. Our faculty may be able to travel to Macau as visiting professors, or perhaps serve as consultants, for example. Government-funded research there is also a possibility.

For now, we have sent two Tufts representatives to engage with leaders at the University of Macau to cultivate our relationship. Dong Kong, a Chinese native and Tufts neuroscience faculty member, visited Macau this spring to explore that university’s collaborative options with Tufts in neuroscience. And Mary Lee, ’83, former associate provost at Tufts, visited Macau a week later on our behalf to advise their administration on what is needed to build a first-rate medical program and earn international accreditation.

Potential benefits from all these endeavors in China are yet to materialize, of course. But one thing is obvious—you can’t do this important work long-distance. It makes a difference that we are there.

Harris A. Berman, M.D.

Dean, Tufts University School of Medicine

Top Stories

On Fighting Ebola

Alumna Nahid Bhadelia takes a big-picture approach to stemming the spread of disease

Son of Confucius

This junior faculty member in neuroscience is a proud descendant of the ancient Chinese sage

The Awkward Fit

Geographically, culturally and politically, Maine lobstermen have some distance to go if they are ever going to connect with better health care

The Mercy Ship

Born from a wish to improve the lives of Boston’s poor, sickly children by exposing them to fresh air, the original Floating Hospital quickly created new and better forms of pediatric medicine

Heads Together

Veterinarians and physicians confer to help deliver a knockout blow to the cancers their patients share

Editor's Picks

Dockside Medicine

Born into a lobstering family, I worry about their well-being in a special way 

Less Salt, Live Longer

Study finds too much sodium a worldwide killer

Nanoscale Cancer

Igor Sokolov’s research could yield better ways to identify and track malignant cells early on

On Designer Babies

Genetic enhancement of human embryos is not a practice for civil societies

Our Ailing Patient

U.S. medicine is not delivering the value it should, says Rishi Manchanda, who offers a prescription for the future

Spin Doctors

Hospital websites give unbalanced medical information, according to a systematic survey of 262 institutions