UQ celebrates Shanghai graduates and brain power

13 Oct 2006

UQ held its second graduate celebration in China tonight [October 12] after signing a landmark neuroscience agreement.

About 100 people including graduates, families and friends, took part in the celebration at the Hilton Hotel in the heart of Shanghai.

UQ Chancellor Sir Llew Edwards, AC, congratulated about 30 graduates.

Mr Haishan Jiang, Director-General, Department of International Exchange and Program Development, China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP), addressed the graduates.

Mr Jiang, who finished his Masters of Education Studies in 2001, said UQ had been one of his greatest sources of intelligence and wisdom.

“Through studies and experience at UQ and Australia, I understood that receiving education beyond one's country is a great opportunity to transcend boundaries to allow understanding of global issues,” Mr Jiang said.

He said studying at UQ had enabled him to work with different people from around the world and particularly with his job as Vice President of the Shanghai Institute of Technology and in his current role at CELAP.

Earlier this morning, UQ and the Institute of Neuroscience (ION) formalized a neuroscience agreement for research and student exchanges.

The ION is part of China's premier science agency, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which works to improve the health and welfare of China's 1.3 billion people.

Professor Trevor Grigg, UQ's Acting Vice Chancellor and the ION's Deputy Director and Senior Investigator Dr Aike Guo signed the agreement at the ION amongst senior executives from both institutions.

The agreement means leading scientists and students from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) and China will collaborate and study at UQ's new Advanced Imaging Centre.

“The two institutes have an enormous amount of similar vision and scientific expertise,” QBI Director Professor Perry Bartlett said.

“We're both studying basic mechanisms that regulate brain function to try and work out how memory, learning and behaviour works.

“Understanding how the brain works will lead to curing diseases which both China and Australia have enormous burdens of.

“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. It's a coming of age of the Asia-Pacific region which is now a force in neuroscience. By working together we will build a major collaborative team among the best in the world.”

Professor Bartlett said the $1.5m (CNY 8.9m) Centre, equipped by technology company Carl Zeiss, would be part of the QBI and also a regional hub for high-end microscopy.

QBI and Zeiss also agreed to create travelling fellowships to allow scientist and student exchanges between QBI and China.

The inaugural fellowship winners are ION PhD students Chun-Lei Wang, 29 and Ting-Jia Lu, 25.

Mr Wang, who has been studying how the brain's different hemispheres function, will study under QBI's Associate Professor Linda Richards at UQ.

Miss Lu is studying mental retardation genes and their function.

Professor Bartlett said he expected there to be six fellowships by 2008.

“Chinese neuroscientists are superbly trained and have much to offer in terms of their intellectual insights and the scientific vigour they bring to neuroscience," he said.

Some of the best scientists from the QBI and ION also held a joint research symposium about the future of neuroscience after the signing.

Chinese students are UQ's biggest international student group with more than 1,000 Chinese students studying at UQ this year, mostly in commerce and engineering.

UQ has about 30 agreements with Chinese institutions to foster research and academic collaboration, and student and staff exchanges.

This celebration was the last of three UQ graduate gatherings also held in Singapore and Beijing this week to allow graduates to share their triumphs with friends and family.