A student exchange program with China is proving popular, with UWA fifth-year medical students choosing to do elective placements of six weeks at a major hospital in Nanjing after winning scholarships.
And for the first time, a BMed Sci Honours student has elected to go to Zhejiang University in Hangzhou to further her research. Jenifer Meintjes left for China last month.
In the Nanjing exchange, Jonathan Chiew will do a rotation in Orthopaedic Surgery and Ben Allanson and Yu Min Ong will focus on Obstetrics and Gynaecology during their term at the at Drum Tower Hospital, which is affiliated with the Nanjing University Medical School.
The hospital, respected for its neurology, stroke, gene and stem cell research, has 21 special research sections or laboratories, 32 clinical departments and treats 37,000 inpatients and 1.5 million outpatients and emergency cases each year.
The students were the recipients of a P. F. Sobotka undergraduate scholarship, provided by the Faculty, which pays for their airfare.
The Nanjing Medical School provides their accommodation.
In return, three medical students from the Nanjing Medical School arrived in Perth in October to undertake three four-week electives at Royal Perth Hospital.
Meijuang Zhang, Ling Lin and Dongyan Shi, were selected by Professor Minghao Zheng, Director of Orthopaedic Research in the Faculty’s School of Surgery and Pathology, on a recent visit to China. They won scholarships awarded by the Faculty to help with the cost of accommodation and living expenses while their airfares were paid by the Nanjing Medical School.
In another initiative to foster the partnership between the Faculty and Zhejiang University, Professor George Yeoh and his team at the WA Institute for Medical Research (WAIMR) will join forces with visiting Associate Professor Aibin Zhang of Zhejiang University to carry out research into new treatments for liver disease.
The joint program will seek ways to improve on current dialysis techniques.
Professor Yeoh said about 10 per cent of the population in China had hepatitis B and many would end up on a transplant waiting list, being treated with a bioreactor dialysis system that was labour and cost-intensive.
A bioreactor replaces the function of the diseased liver and gives it the chance to regenerate naturally but the machine must be constantly topped up with artificially created liver cells.
Professor Yeoh’s team has had success with liver progenitor cells which produce important liver cells and it is hoped that if a way can be found to keep the cells functioning in a bioreactor, they may sustain the machine for months or longer, compared with just days as happens at present.