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Oakland University Eye Research Institute Director's China Trip Proves Fruitful for International Relations

Dr. Frank Giblin attended the opening of an eye center and lectured at the Renmin Hospital and Hubei University of Medicine (HUM) in China.

Rochester, MI, September 02, 2015 --( Frank Giblin, Ph.D., director and faculty member since 1978 of the Oakland University Eye Research Institute, was recently invited to the opening of an Eye Treatment Center more than 7,000 miles away.

Through a newly-created partnership, Dr. Giblin attended the opening of an Eye Center and lectured at the Renmin Hospital and Hubei University of Medicine (HUM) in Shiyan, Hubei – a mountainous city in China. Hubei’s school of medicine has nearly 16,000 full-time students, and its five teaching hospitals serve more than 6 million patients annually.

But Dr. Giblin’s trip wasn’t purely for prestige; it had another outcome. Giblin learned that the Chinese institutions want to set up a long-term academic partnership with Oakland, and he has made connections to further that relationship, he said.

Dr. Giblin was one of the first American scientists to lecture at Hubei University, an institution eager to interact with its Western counterparts. He gave lectures on research underway at Oakland’s Eye Research Institute and the importance of writing proper manuscripts for publication in international scientific journals. His wife, Jane, who is a master gardener, was asked to lecture on Western culture and biodiversity.

The Giblins were greeted in Shiyan by the region’s vice mayor and the presidents of both the medical school and the hospital. After exchanging gifts with HUM President Tu Hanjun and Renmin Hospital president Zhong Sen, the Giblins spent much of their time touring both institutions – including the new Eye Center at Renmin – and delivering lectures to audiences of 300 faculty and students. The school and the hospital also awarded Dr. Giblin with visiting professorships.

Giblin said he didn’t realize before his journey to Shiyan that both the university and the hospital want to partner with Oakland for research student and faculty exchange programs.

“I think when they invited me there, they were hoping that this would lead to some collaboration research-wise,” said Giblin. “Collaboration, and also where they could send their young ophthalmologists here to watch retinal surgeries, get some tips and pointers to try to increase their success rate with their surgeries.”

He has already secured OU internships for two Shiyan vision researchers. In September, Fang Yang, M.D., a woman who is an ophthalmologist from Renmin Hospital, will arrive to begin up to one year of vision research in the ERI with Ken Mitton, Ph.D., and Kimberley Drenser, M.D., Ph.D., in the institute’s Pediatric Retinal Research Laboratory. Another Renmin ophthalmologist, Dr. Li Lin, will arrive in April 2016 to undergo a six-month internship observing retinal surgeries at Beaumont Hospital with the ERI’s clinical faculty.

Dr. Giblin is hoping to recruit more visiting students from Shiyan to study in the Eye Research Institute, as well. “Anything we can do to get more data to apply for (National Institutes of Health) grants would make us a more dynamic research institute. Things like that just increase the morale: new people coming in from different countries. You share different cultures. It’s just very nice, and I hope it can continue.”

During their trip, Dr. Giblin and his wife visited the Wudang Mountains, a small mountain range south of Shiyan that is considered to be an important center of the Taoist religion and also is known for the martial arts practiced there. Among others, Shiyan native David Li, an ophthalmologist in Seattle, Washington, showed the Giblins around.

Li said that the Chinese government is increasing investment in Shiyan’s medical education centers, but that Chinese leaders view the United States as a primary choice for advanced training opportunities.

“When I showed Dr. Giblin around the (Eye Treatment Center), we talked about issues and challenges that the eye center is facing. Clinically, they need to see how we care for and operate on the eyes here in the U.S.,” Li said. “If we help them, then they can provide quality care to the people of the region. OU can play an active role in academic development of HUM and promoting excellence in medical education, research and patient care in Shiyan Renmin Hospital.”

Dr. Giblin and Oakland University are already partnered with multiple universities across the world, including universities in China, Turkey, Egypt and elsewhere. After Shiyan, the Giblins visited Fudan University in Shanghai and toured the laboratory of Professor Xiong-Li Yang, a prestigious retinal researcher who is a member of the Chinese National Academy of Sciences. Professor Yang is the former mentor of Dr. Dao Qi Zhang, who is now an Assistant Professor at Oakland’s ERI. Two of Professor Yang’s students are now conducting research with Dr. Zhang in the institute, as well.
Contact Information
Oakland University
Eric Reikowski
(248) 370-4348

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