School of Public Health and West China School of Medicine Establish Joint Center

Leaders from the School of Public Health and West China Hospital sign the Joint Center agreement.This summer, the University of Michigan School of Public Health and West China Hospital/West China School of Medicine at Sichuan University established the Joint Center for Big Data and Health Analytics.

“The Joint Center allows us to formalize our existing relationship with West China Hospital and Medical School to facilitate joint research, faculty training and education in a way that promotes and elevates public health and biomedical research at both universities. The big data and analytical tools shared by the two institutes will facilitate researchers’ investigation in a variety of emerging fields, including precision medicine, health outcome research and surveillance of infectious disease,” said Yi Li, professor of Biostatistics and Global Public Health at the School of Public Health, who is the appointed U-M director for the partnership.

Through this partnership, the two universities plan to construct a collaborative platform for joint research, apply jointly for international funding, establish a system that fosters faculty training and scholar exchange, and promote overseas internship and joint doctoral training programs in the fields of big data and health analytics. In addition, they will share experience in innovative teaching methods and course design, and organize joint symposia, workshops and conferences.

West China Hospital is the largest hospital in China in terms of patient volumes and research output. Partnering with them will provide countless mutually-beneficial big data research opportunities, Li said.

“As our capacity for capturing, storing, analyzing and communicating big data grows, so too do our opportunities for improving health and health care,” said Matthew L. Boulton, senior associate dean for Global Public Health at the School of Public Health.

According to Li, this partnership is unique and complementary.

“You typically see joint efforts between two schools of public health or two medical centers,” he said. “To my knowledge, this is the first international partnership of its kind between a school of public health and a major medical school and hospital.”