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The University of Wollongong (UOW) will partner with leading Chinese high tech pharmaceutical corporation Di’ao Group to research the effectiveness of natural Chinese medicines for treating a range of medical conditions including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, schizophrenia and obesity.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at Di’ao’s offices in Chengdu between UOW’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Health) Professor Don Iverson and Di’ao Group Vice-President Mr Xiao Shengmao.
Under the MOU, researchers from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) will collaborate with their counterparts at Di’ao on research into Chinese medicines and the development of new nano-drug delivery technologies. The MOU includes a commitment to developing an academic exchange program involving research staff from both organisations, as well as the possible funding of scholarships and internships involving Australian and Chinese postgraduate students.
A second phase of the partnership will see UOW’s Faculty of Engineering mining engineering researchers working with Di’ao mining industry division to develop automated underground coal extraction technologies.
A third phase involves plans for Di’ao to establish a research and development centre at UOW’s Innovation Campus in Wollongong to strengthen collaborations between it and UOW’s advanced health and medical and mining engineering researchers.
Professor Iverson said the medical research had exciting implications for western and Chinese medicine because it would look at traditional medicines, some dating back 5000 years, with a view to increasing their effectiveness to meet 21st century health challenges in areas like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, schizophrenia and obesity.
“We will be investigating natural Chinese medicines and remedies that have been developed over thousands of years,” Professor Iverson said. “We will be seeking to identify what makes them effective, with a view to modifying those compounds to hopefully increase their effectiveness.”
Professor Iverson said the Di’ao Group was a highly innovative Chinese corporation with a strong reputation in fields including pharmaceuticals (natural and synthetic medicines), cosmetics, mining technology and real estate. It has earned the National Innovative Enterprise award, the Excellent Enterprise of National Traditional Chinese Medicine Industry award, and been named one of the 100 Strongest Hi-Tech Enterprises in the People’s Republic of China.
“Di’ao is a dynamic organisation and we are delighted to be collaborating on such important research,” Professor Iverson said.
He said NSW Trade & Investment’s Shanghai office had been instrumental in connecting UOW with the Di’ao Group.
Professor Iverson said UOW was honoured that the NSW Premier had agreed to attend the signing ceremony.
“The NSW Government through NSW Trade & Investment helped establish this partnership. The presence of Premier O’Farrell is a fitting endorsement of the potential of this research collaboration,” he said.
Professor Iverson was joined at the signing by UOW’s Manager, Corporate Relations, Emily Zeng, who also played a key role in establishing the partnership with the Di’Ao Group, and Professor Xu-feng Huang who leads the University’s research into obesity, diabetes and schizophrenia.
“The agreement is an example of the opportunities that can emerge from greater engagement with China,” the Premier said.
“China is already NSW’s largest trading partner, but there are many more opportunities to develop this relationship, especially as China continues to grow.”
“I congratulate the University of Wollongong on its success in gaining another longer-term international research project,” he said.
Under the agreement, both organisations are looking at possible academic exchanges and student scholarships, which will help to strengthen the relationship between NSW and China.