Landmark alliance in clinical and experimental biomedicine

Representatives from Monash BDI and WMU
Representatives from Monash BDI and WMU

The Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) has recently formalised an alliance with one of the largest research facilities and medical universities in China, Wenzhou Medical University (WMU). The Monash BDI-WMU Alliance in Clinical and Experimental Biomedicine was officially launched on Saturday 27 October, 2018.

A contingent of 13 Monash BDI researchers visited Wenzhou from 27 to 30 October, to attend the opening, host a research symposium and celebrate WMU’s 60 year anniversary.

WMU has governance over five affiliated hospitals in Wenzhou, and has another 19 teaching hospitals in the province. These facilities are clinically advanced and serve more than 30 million population in Zhejiang Province and Fujian Province. WMU has a growing research capability, with a focus on genomics and pathogenicity. The biobanks in one WMU hospital contain more bacteria and ‘superbugs’ than can be found in the whole of Australia.

The Alliance will enable researchers from the Monash BDI and WMU to collaborate on key research initiatives including; antimicrobial resistance, cancer and reproductive medicine. Collaborative projects will be supported by facilities for genome sequencing, mass spectrometry, organoid research and other molecular biology research.

Professor John Carroll, Director of the Monash BDI, was pleased to see this long-awaited partnership formalised.

“This visit marks the beginning of a highly beneficial alliance between Monash BDI and WMU scientists, clinicians and educators,” Professor Carroll said.

“Biomedical research cannot be conducted individually, it requires collaborations between scientists at the institutional, national and international level. Biomedical research–like the diseases and health conditions we study–has no borders,” he said.

In addition to the research side of the collaboration, there will also be a significant partnership in education. The Alliance opens up opportunities for students from both countries to conduct part of their studies at the other university, gaining not only their education, but unique and exciting experiences in their host country.

During the recent visit, the Australian researchers were taken on a tour of the Alliance labs, housed on the 18th floor of the WMU Science and Technology Building. The labs are in the process of being kitted out, with completion of the labs anticipated for February 2019. Once the labs are fully operational, researchers from the Monash BDI will begin to conduct some of their research projects in Wenzhou, tapping into the wealth of knowledge and resources WMU has to offer.

While in Wenzhou, the Monash BDI hosted the Biomedicine Discovery Symposium, aimed at exploring and developing scientific collaborations between Monash BDI researchers and Chinese scientists and clinicians. The symposium themes mirrored the three research themes of the Alliance:

  • Antimicrobial resistance, Hospital-acquired infections and computational biology
  • Cancer, organoids and bioinformatics
  • Reproductive medicine and medical genetics

Organised by Monash BDI’s Dr Yue Qu and chaired by Professor Carroll, the symposium included presentations from researchers from both the Monash BDI and WMU and offered an opportunity for discussion of the new frontiers in biomedical sciences between guests.

The symposium was attended by 148 scientists, including researchers from the Monash BDI, leading clinicians and scientists from WMU and its affiliated hospitals, and other Monash collaborators from Zhejiang, Pekin and Fudan Universities and China Science Academy.

The Wenzhou visit concluded with the 60th anniversary of Wenzhou Medical University. As part of the celebration, Professor Ian Smith, Vice-Provost (Research and Research Infrastructure) at Monash, gave a keynote speech for the China and Foreign University President Forum. Monash BDI’s Professor Trevor Lithgow spoke in the Foreign Academy’s research symposium, and Associate Professor Priscilla Johanesen presented her vision for postgraduate training in the International Engagement symposium.

“This alliance provides unparalleled collaborative opportunities for Monash BDI scientists to work in one of China’s most impressive clinical and medical research environments,” Professor Trevor Lithgow, Scientific Director of the Monash BDI-WMU Alliance in Clinical and Experimental Biomedicine, said.

“We are currently focusing on complementary strengths of strategic importance to Australia and China, and I’m sure we will be looking to expand once we have set things in motion,” he said.

The Monash BDI-WMU Alliance in Clinical and Experimental Biomedicine opens the door for breakthrough discoveries in biomedical science, rewarding international collaborations between leading researchers, and invaluable learning opportunities for the next generation of scientists.

About WMU

Wenzhou Medical University (WMU), located in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, is a provincial key university. In the 60 years since it established itself in Wenzhou, it has made great advances in talent training, building research capacity, and medical services. WMU particularly stands out for its pioneering ophthalmology and optometry programme which has a global reputation. Breakthroughs in novel therapeutics based on fibroblast growth factors by WMU pharmaceutical scientists are also making an impact. Its history of talented medical professionals and rich healthcare resources speaks of its commitment to serving people in Zhejiang and beyond.

About the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute

Committed to making the discoveries that will relieve the future burden of disease, the newly established Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University brings together more than 120 internationally-renowned research teams. Our researchers are supported by world-class technology and infrastructure, and partner with industry, clinicians and researchers internationally to enhance lives through discovery.