Australian neuroscientists forge closer ties with their colleagues in China

9 Oct 2006

Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) neuroscientists from The University of Queensland will visit Shanghai this week to formalise a growing relationship between QBI and the Chinese Academy of Science, Institute of Neuroscience (ION).

QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said informal discussions with the Chinese Academy of Science had begun last year, when he visited China to meet with several of the country's senior neuroscientists.

“In my experience, Chinese neuroscientists are superbly trained and have much to offer in terms of their intellectual insights and the scientific vigour they bring to neuroscience,” Professor Bartlett said.

“QBI and ION have many common interests, so it makes good sense to work together to accelerate the discovery processes that will lead to the development of new therapeutics to treat mental and neurological diseases.”

“The importance of this relationship should not be underestimated, since China is set to become a major force in the Asia–Pacific. Initiatives such as our relationship with ION and the new Zeiss travelling fellowship will have long-term benefits for both countries,” Professor Bartlett said.

QBI and Zeiss AustralAsia have agreed to create a travelling fellowship that will provide funds for QBI scientists to go to China to collaborate with their Chinese colleagues and for Chinese scientists to come and work at QBI for up to 12 months.

On an official visit to UQ in February 2006, People's Republic of China Science Minister Professor Xu Guanhua said his government recognised neuroscience was a rapidly expanding discipline that would benefit from increased scientific collaboration at the highest level.

ION is one of six institutes at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBS) and part of the highly respected Chinese Academy of Sciences. SIBS is dedicated to improving the health and welfare of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

SIBS has partnership agreements with other high-profile scientific organisations, including the world-renowned Max Planck Society in Germany and the National Institute of Health at Cornell University, UC Berkeley.

Three QBI neuroscientists will speak at a joint symposium after the official ceremony marking the QBI–ION agreement on 12 October.

Speakers at the symposium: "Future directions in neuroscience – the need for collaboration" will include Professor Perry Bartlett (Head of Neural Plasticity), Professor Pankaj Sah (Head of Synaptic Plasticity) and Associate Professor Geoffrey Goodhill (Head of Computational Neuroscience). Speakers from ION will include Dr Shu-Min Duan, Dr Yu-Qiang Ding and Dr Xiao-Bing Yuan.


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Notes to the Editor
The Queensland Brain Institute was formed in 2003 as part of the Queensland Government’s Smart State Initiative, building on a long history of neuroscience at The University of Queensland. QBI is dedicated to understanding the molecular basis of brain function and applying this knowledge to the development of new therapeutics to treat brain and mental health disorders.