The largest university in the world wants to tap into Nova Scotia’s
expertise in brain repair.
Jilin University in Changchun, China, which boasts 100,000 students and a
faculty of 20,000, has entered a collaboration agreement with the Brain
Repair Centre at Dalhousie University.
The university, in northeastern China, learned about the centre’s innovative
work several years ago through articles in medical journals, said Dr. Ivar
Mendez, director of the Brain Repair Centre.
A delegation from China visited the Halifax centre in 2007.
"They wanted to (use) some of the technology and know-how from the centre to
create a brain repair centre of their own," Dr. Mendez said in an interview
Monday. "We’ve been working with them since that time and we’ve put together
a memorandum of understanding."
Dr. Mendez travelled to Changchun three weeks ago to sign the agreement. He
was amazed by the size of the university and the scope of the local health
The largest hospital in the region, which just opened, has 4,500 beds and a
staff of 55 neurosurgeons. That compares to the Queen Elizabeth Health
Sciences Centre’s 1,110 beds and nine neurosurgeons.
Their resources and infrastructure are impressive "but they lack innovation
and that’s where we come in," Dr. Mendez said.
The Brain Repair Centre has gained an international reputation for its
pioneering work. More than 100 world-class researchers and doctors
collaborate in fields such as imaging, stem cell neurobiology, pharmacology
For example, the centre has developed technology to inject stem cells into
damaged brain tissue. These treatments have led to dramatic improvements in
patients suffering from conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. The tool
used for this work, the Halifax Injector, is now used at Harvard University
and Cardiff in Wales.
The centre will train the university’s staff on its procedures, while the
university may help fund joint projects in the future, Dr. Mendez said.
But the agreement has more far-reaching benefits, he said. It extends the
centre’s international connections and "may open opportunities (in China)
for other innovative companies and institutions in Nova Scotia."
A delegation of scientists and CEOs from major hospitals in the Jilin region
will visit the centre sometime this summer, he said.
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