The main campus of Chongqing Medical University (CQMU) in
China features a 66-foot statue of the late Communist Party leader Mao Zedong,
whose famous quotations include, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a
The UC College of Medicine has taken its initial steps
toward a partnership with Chongqing Medical University, one that could
culminate in construction of a joint international medical school based in
Chongqing—some of whose students would spend at least one year studying on the
UC medical campus.
Thomas Boat, MD, dean
of the UC College of Medicine and UC vice president for health affairs, first
spoke publicly of the partnership last fall, when he briefed UC’s Board of
Trustees on it and mentioned it in his progress update for the College of
Medicine in Kresge Auditorium. Earlier this month, he laid out details of the
proposal in two town hall meetings on the medical campus.
The idea, he told participants in the meetings, grew out of
a long-standing relationship between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical
Center and the Children’s Hospital in Chongqing. The possibility of joint
programs was broached by officials at Chongqing Medical University.
"The idea would be to create on their medical campus a
unique international college of medicine that would be set up more on a Western
curriculum tradition and that would be able to attract students from all over
Asia and the rest of the world,” Boat said.
The new college of medicine, which would cost between $100 million
and $150 million to build and staff, according to Boat, would be linked to
Phase II of the partnership. Phase I, he said, would involve creating and
implementing a jointly sponsored curriculum for one or more master’s degrees in
Some of the cost would be borne by government entities in
China, Boat said, but major philanthropic support will be needed. A major donor
with ties to UC and China has been identified, and talks will continue.
Industry partnerships for research will also be explored.
The Phase I partnership could begin as soon as fall of 2013,
Boat said, with the first students from China arriving on the UC medical campus
a year later. The UC Board of Trustees has given the go-ahead to proceed with
Phase I, said Boat, who earlier this year visited Chongqing along with UC
President Santa Ono, PhD, for talks with CQMU and municipal officials.
Chongqing (formerly known in the West as Chungking) is a
major city in southern China and one of four direct-controlled municipalities
in China, with a status equal to that of a province (the others are Beijing,
Shanghai and Tianjin). Its total population is about 33 million spread over an
area of about 32,000 square miles (about the size of Maine). The population of
the urbanized area is about 7 million.
Chongqing Medical University, founded in 1956, features an
integrated educational system of bachelor’s, master’s, PhD/MD and postdoctoral
programs. Its 19 colleges and departments have a total enrollment of 26,200
students, with 5,457 faculty members. In 2011, it was ranked third among
medical universities and ninth among 610 general universities in China.
"It’s one of the best schools and medical centers in the
country,” Boat said, noting its numerous affiliated hospitals and access to
research facilities. With medical treatment in China concentrated in hospitals
rather than smaller practice facilities, Boat said, opportunities for clinical
trials are enhanced.
"Their universities are communities,” he added. "People live
there, they go to school there, their recreational facilities are there. All of
the faculty and all of the students are housed on campus—they’re pretty much
Boat noted that UC faculty members could go to China with no
more than a two- or three-week time commitment, because courses are taught—in
English—in intensive blocks.
Under the proposed Phase I joint master’s program in
clinical medicine, students would spend the first year at the international
college of medicine, occupying renovated space on the main campus of Chongqing
Medical University in downtown’s Yuzhong district. In the second year, up to 10
students would come to the UC medical campus for specialty rotations and
selected course work. (More than 10 initially, Boat said, would strain clinical
learning opportunities needed by current students in Cincinnati.)
The students would spend two semesters at UC, paying what
out-of-state students currently pay). Room and board would be separate. Their
degree would be a certificate, Boat said, which would be useful for
demonstrating U.S. educational experience.
Also under discussion for Phase I, Boat said, is a
three-year program in clinical medicine and public health under the UC
Department of Environmental Health’s Master’s in Public Health program.
Students would spend their second and third years at UC and would earn a UC
Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree.
Boat added that other Phase I programs could be developed
with the cooperation of the colleges of nursing, pharmacy and allied health
sciences, with a research emphasis for the second and third years. Such plans
are tentative at this time, he said.
Phase I could begin as soon as fall 2013, Boat said, but a
tight time frame might push it back to fall 2014.
Phase II would involve developing a business plan for
fundraising, construction, staffing and launch of a full-scale international
college of medicine, to be built on Chongqing Medical University’s Jingyun
campus about half an hour by bus from Yuzhong. It would be close to a new
teaching hospital in addition to existing schools of medicine, nursing and
pharmacy. Phase II would include translational research facilities to promote
joint clinical research efforts of the Cincinnati and Chongqing campuses.
"The new college of medicine would have its own core
faculty, with teaching needs supplemented by our faculty and the Chongqing
Medical University faculty,” Boat said.
The college’s organizational structure would have a dean
reporting to an executive management committee comprising representatives from
the UC College of Medicine and Chongqing Medical University, Boat said. The
dean would be a Chinese national with considerable experience in the U.S.
medical system, he added.
Boat said he will continue to seek input from faculty and
staff about the proposal, and is particularly pleased that so many UC College
of Medicine faculty have expressed a high level of interest and eagerness to
participate in this joint international effort.