Thursday, 14 August 2014
Global healthcare communities: East meets West
Hyanji Scaffold is a four year exchange scheme supported by the European Commission. Its aim is to nurture a European-Chinese collaboration across four internationally acclaimed biomedical research groups: ISTM, Pisa, Tsinghua and Sichuan University.
The alliance focuses on the development of new material chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacy methods for cartridge and bone tissue engineering techniques, and in particular biosynthesis of biomaterials and targeted drug delivery. There is an expectation that the sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise will lead to the development of new healthcare treatments for bone and cartilage defects, for the European and Chinese industry.
To date, Keele University’s Institute of Science and Technology (ISTM) has sent two lecturers and six students to Tsinghua University: Professor Alicia El Haj (ISTM’s Director), Dr Nick Forsyth, Alex Lomas, Richard Webb, Ian Wimpenny, Tina Dale, Thomas Heathman, and Thomas Kwan.
Each student spent between a month and a year at Tsinghua and their goal was to develop a biologically generated polymer scaffold to be used in the treatment of damaged tendons. On their return, students spoke of the collaboration's success in terms of research but also on a personal level.
“I experienced what life would be like as a research student in China; the laboratories were well equipped, the professors are great and I’ve built lifelong friendships and collaborations with Chinese students and academic staff. I also acquired a taste for the Sichuan hotpot and ‘snow’ beer, the local brew!” said Richard, returning from a second 6 month placement at the West China School of Pharmacy, Sichuan University.
Richard and his fellow ISTM students continue to work on the development of new bone and cartilage defect treatments, as part of the European-Chinese collaboration, and it is hoped that this partnership of specialised institutions will continue long after the scheme closes.