In late August 2019, UBC Psychiatry Department Head Dr. Lakshmi Yatham, accompanied by Executive members Dr. Raymond Lam, Associate Head of Research and International Affairs, and Dr. Wei-Yi Song, Clinical Professor (IMP) and President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, traveled to China to sign historic Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Shanghai Mental Health Center (Jiao Tong University School of Medicine), Beijing Anding Hospital (Capital Medical University), and the Changsha Second Xiangya Hospital (Central South University). By formalizing ties with these leading psychiatric centres, the completed agreements will provide opportunities to build on existing collaborations, and establish the groundwork for future clinical, research and educational partnerships between UBC Psychiatry and the three institutions.
On Monday August 26, Drs. Yatham, Lam and Song were hosted at the Shanghai Mental Health Center (SMHC) by SMHC President Prof. Yifeng Xu, and Director of the SMHC Clinical Research Center Prof. Jun Chen, along with members of the SMHC executive staff. Prof. Chen is co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Lam for EMBED, a large Canada-China team grant jointly funded by CIHR and the National Science Foundation of China to implement technology-enhanced measurement-based care for depression in Shanghai.
Upon signing the first MOU, a mutually beneficial arrangement was agreed to, which would bring SMHC PhD student Dr. Yang Tao to UBC for research training in neuroimaging of psychiatric disorders under the supervision of Drs. Yatham and Lam. In recognition of this agreement and to facilitate future academic exchanges, the SMHC has appointed Dr. Yatham and Dr. Lam as Visiting Professors within their institution.
Following the meeting at SMHC, on Wednesday August 28 the UBC Psychiatry Head and Executives attended a signing ceremony for the second MOU with Beijing Anding Hospital, which was presided over by Hospital President Dr. Gang Wang, Director of the Office Dr. Wei Wang, and Director of the Science and Technology Department Dr. Yanping Ren.
In 2014, Beijing Anding Hospital supported Dr. Chen Hu as she completed research training as an honorary postdoctoral fellow in the UBC Department of Psychiatry. Following Dr. Hu’s fellowship at UBC, other academic exchange activities have been carried out and future exchanges are now on the horizon. The significance of this occasion was summarized as follows in the Hospital’s news blog: “The signing of this memorandum of understanding laid the foundation for further academic cooperation and talent transfer in the future.”
The signing of the third MOU with Changsha Second Xiangya Hospital and Central South University — the medical alma mater of Dr. Wei-Yi Song — took place on Monday, September 2, 2019, and joining Drs. Yatham, Lam and Song were Party Secretary Prof. Aijing Luo, Co-Director of the Mental Health Institute of Central South University Prof. Xiaoping Wang, who completed a Forensic fellowship at UBC with Drs. Roy O’Shaughnessy and Emlene Murphy, and Hospital President Prof. Zhiguang Zhou. The Director of Neuroscience Laboratories for Capital Medical University, Dr. Xiaojie Zhang, who completed her PhD with UBC Psychiatry Division Head for Basic Neuroscience Dr. Weihong Song, was also in attendance. With the third and final MOU signed, the remainder to the day was dedicated to productive planning sessions for the months and years ahead.
As invited guest speakers at the annual meeting of the Chinese Society of Psychiatrists in Nanjing, all travel expenses for Drs. Yatham, Lam and Song were externally funded by the Society. Additionally, they were graciously hosted by delegates from the three institutions, who funded all accommodation expenses for this trip. The signing of the Memoranda of Understanding has opened new channels for the UBC Department of Psychiatry to enhance its research and educational networks in China. They signify an important milestone in the Department’s overarching mandate to improve mental health outcomes through research and education, a goal to be achieved in no small measure by both strengthening established relationships and exploring new and exciting collaborative opportunities with our global partners in mental health.
More information on opportunities for research collaboration at these Centers will be posted on the Department’s website in the near future. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Raymond Lam, Associate Head of Research and International Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Margaret Koshi, Manager of Communications and Partnerships, at email@example.com.