UCL Global


Third annual UCL-PKU Strategic Partner Funds recipients announced

3 July 2019

Six projects in areas from climate change to ophthalmic education are set to receive up to £10,000 in support of research collaboration between UCL and PKU

Beijing sky

The recipients of the 2019-20 UCL-Peking University (PKU) Strategic Partner Funds have been announced, with funding allocated to projects in areas such as ophthalmology, renewable energy and digital humanities.

Now in its third year, this annual funding opportunity offers up to £10,000 per project to UCL academics collaborating with colleagues based at PKU, as part of the deep strategic partnership between the two institutions.

The proposals were assessed by a selection panel chaired by UCL’s Pro-Vice-Provost for East Asia, Katharine Carruthers. Following their assessment, six UCL academics will receive the funding this year.

Mitigating climate change

Among them is Dr Zhifu Mi (Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management), whose project aims to tackle climate change.

Following the announcement, he said: “The funds provide me with a great opportunity to collaborate with my PKU partners on China’s carbon emissions in the new development phase.

“This joint project aims to make contributions to global climate change mitigation (Sustainable Development Goal 13) and human wellbeing improvement, which is one of UCL’s Grand Challenges.”

Improving dementia care

Aimee Spector, Professor of Old Age Clinical Psychology (Brain Sciences), is also among the successful recipients. She is working with her co-applicant Dr Charlotte Stoner and partners at PKU on a project to improve care, cognition and quality of life for people with dementia in China.

She said: “With our colleagues Professor Huali Wang and Dr Gloria Wong we will develop PKU’s Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) programme for people with dementia living in Beijing. Developed at UCL, CST has a robust evidence base in the UK and around the world for improving cognition and quality of life for people with dementia.

“Using a series of stakeholder meetings with policy makers, healthcare professionals, people with dementia and caregivers, and modelled on our successful work in Brazil, India and Tanzania we will develop an implementation plan for CST in China.”

Bringing experts together

Simon Mahony, Principal Teaching Fellow and Director, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities (Department of Information Studies) is another recipient of the 2019-20 funds.

Commenting on his successful application, he said: “These funds will enable two workshops, the first at PKU and the second at UCL, to bring together experts from the libraries and digital humanities community to explore and analyse how we can develop closer relationships between library, research group and taught programme.

“These will have a focus on how cultural differences shape not only our work practices but also the formulation of digital humanities itself and will be open to our students to widen their experience for a more global outlook.”

Former recipients of the PKU Strategic Partner Funds include Professor Nick Greene, who has been working with colleagues at PKU to develop preventative strategies for Neural Tube Defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida, as well as Professor Fulong Wu, who has worked with PKU’s College of Urban and Environment Sciences around sustainable urban solutions.

Congratulations to all the successful 2019-20 applicants:

Lead UCL applicantResearch area Project summary 

Prof Aimee Spector

Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology – Brain Sciences

Develop implementation plan for Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) for dementia in China, forming the foundations of a funding application linking to the current MRC funded ‘CSTInternational’ programme (PI Spector) in Brazil, India and Tanzania.

Nora Colton

Director of Education, Institute of Opthalmology – Brain Sciences

Joint seminar at PKU on cultivating the future of ophthalmic education, addressing shortage of trained professionals, building on the signing of an MOU between UCL and the Peking University Health Science Centre.

Dr Zhifu Mi

Economics and Finance of the Built Environment – Bartlett

Joint research: China’s carbon emissions in the new development phase. Collaborators are world-experts in the topic.

Prof Mala Shah

School of Pharmacy – Life Sciences

Exploring the role of 'slack channels' in epilepsy: aims to better understand the role of particular proteins, ion channels called the sodium-activated K+ channels or 'Slack channels' in determining activity of brain cells known as neurons.

Prof Kwang-Leong Choy

Institute for Materials Discovery – MAPS

Joint workshop on 'Smart Materials for Renewable Energy and Biomedical Applications.'

Simon Mahony

Information Studies – Arts & Humanities Two collaborative workshops. The first will be held at PKU to explore and analyse how their research and curriculum leverages this relationship between library, research group and taught programme.