UCL Global


First UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Fund winners revealed

17 July 2017

Mega cities, health humanities and child health projects are all benefiting from the inaugural UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Funds.

Peking University

The inaugural recipients of the UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Funds have been announced, with successful projects including those focusing on mega cities, health humanities and child health.

The funds offer up to £10,000 per project to UCL academics in any faculty collaborating with colleagues based at Peking University (PKU), as part of the deep strategic partnership between the two institutions.

The initiative is led by UCL's Pro-Vice-Provost for East Asia, Katharine Carruthers, and the Global Engagement Office, to drive forward the objectives of UCL’s Global Engagement Strategy.

Congratulations to all of this year’s successful applicants:

Lead UCL applicantPKU partner institution/sActivity

Dr Vivian Lo

Yenching Academy; Institute for Medical HumanitiesNew Health Humanities module at PKU Yenching Academy
Prof. Jeremy Tanner
(Institute of Archaeology)
School of Archaeology and MuseologyConference: Materialising Empire in Ancient Rome and Han Dynasty China

Prof. Graham Shields
(Earth Sciences)

School of Earth and Space SciencesAdvanced mass spectrometry workshops to develop new approaches to environmental research

Prof. Fulong Wu 
(The Bartlett School of Planning)

College of Urban and Environment Sciences; Lincoln Institute Center for Urban Development and Land PolicyJoint research on the sustainable development of mega cities

Prof. Nicholas Greene
(Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health)

Institute of Reproductive & Child HealthJoint research preparing for genetic studies and a clinical trial examining common birth defects

Prof. Li Wei
(Institute of Education - Centre for Applied Linguistics)

School of Foreign LanguagesReview of recent policy initiatives in China regarding English language education

Dr Ryan Wang
(Chemical Engineering)

College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering
Symposium in chemistry and engineering

Dr Junwang Tang
(Chemical Engineering)

College of Chemistry and Molecular EngineeringJoint research exploring new approaches to natural gas utilisation

Reducing birth defects

Professor Nicholas Greene will build on an existing collaboration with PKU examining neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are common birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly, which lead to perinatal lethality or severe handicap in surviving babies. They affect approximately 1 per 1,000 pregnancies worldwide, with China having among the highest prevalence (6 per 1,000 births in areas of northern China). 

He said: "Understanding the causes of NTDs is hindered by their complex, multifactorial etiology which involves both genetic and environmental factors, and in most individuals the causes are not well understood. We will bring together UK expertise in experimental analysis of the mechanisms underlying NTDs with Chinese expertise in the epidemiology and population surveillance of NTDs in a high-risk area, with the aim of investigating genetic mechanisms and developing a large-scale clinical trial for prevention of these birth defects."

Cross-cultural health challenges

Dr Vivienne Lo will design and deliver the inaugural Health Humanities module for PKU’s Yenching Academy, together with ten collaborating UCL and PKU professors. UCL students have been among Yenching Scholars from around the world provided with a full bursary to complete a Master’s in China Studies at the Academy since it opened in 2015.

She commented: "The Yenching Academy offers an interdisciplinary Masters programme in China studies that brings together outstanding international students with the best of China's graduates. It aims to build bridges between China and the rest of the world in order to shape a new generation of global citizens with a nuanced understanding of China, and its role in the world. The proposed module will expose the students to cross-cultural approaches to some of the most pressing issues facing health and healthcare in China from an humanities point of view."

Tackling mega cities

Professor Fulong Wu will lead a team undertaking joint research on the sustainable development and governance of mega cities. UCL will learn from leading PKU urban researchers about the challenges and development plans of Beijing.

He said: "The focus on the development and governance of mega cities addresses a major issue that is of great significance for the vast majority of national, regional and municipal government and policy makers. Research and teaching in this area will help UCL students develop the best possible skillset to succeed in the global market."

Ongoing collaboration

Pro-Vice-Provost (East Asia) Katharine Carruthers, who is Director of the UCL Institute Of Education Confucius Institute for Schools (IOE CI), added: “These funds are an important part of the continuing collaboration between UCL and PKU across a broad range of disciplines. It will be fantastic to see how the projects develop.”

The respective presidents of UCL and PKU, Professor Michael Arthur and Professor Lin Jianhua, opened the IOE CI's new teacher training and research facility in June 2017.