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China, UK to Support Joint Medical Researches

The outbreak of the avian flu now in many parts of the world has proved how important it is to forge a worldwide scientific collaboration, said both the British Ambassador to China Christopher Hum and Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive with the UK Medial Research Council, UK's principal publicly-funded biomedicine research organization.

Professor Blakemore is leading MRC delegations on a visit to China after their tours to southeast Asia where the avian flu has caused 61 cases human death by October 20. Their discussions with Chinese scientists involve the cancer research and emerging infectious disease, especially avian flu.

The MRC has signed two MOU with the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and is in talks with the Chinese Academy of Medical Science (CAMS).

Professor Han Jianguo, Director-General of International Cooperation Bureau with NSFC, said the agreement would facilitate the cooperation between NSFC and MRC, including bilateral workshops, joint China-UK research projects and personnel exchange programs.

He noted that joint China-UK experts' teams would review applications of collaborative projects and the IPR would be defined very clearly in the projects. He promised that NSFC would spare no efforts to encourage and help the cooperation between top Chinese and British scientists.

NSFC always gives priority to biotech and life science research. Prof. Han said all the increased funds of NSFC in 2004 went to health or health related researches. And Dr. Sun Ruijuan, a program director with the NSFC life science department, said that 70 percent of applications they have handled are for medical science or medical science related research and 45 percent of applications handled by NSFC are for life science projects which receive 37 percent of NSFC grants.

Its partnership agreement this time is part of the UK-China Partners in Science, a year-long program with more than one hundred activities across China to promote the mutual understanding and ties between Chinese and British scientists.

Like its fast-growing economy, China's scientific progress has also been recognized as remarkable internationally. An official with CAS said some twenty years ago it was difficult for Chinese scientists to talk to their foreign colleagues in English, but now the gap of language and way of thinking is no longer a problem. In some areas like nano-tech, China has edged into one of the leading countries in the world.

(People's Daily October 31, 2005)

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