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New collaboration between New Zealand and China in medical science

16 November 2015

A joint centre for medical research established between China and New Zealand is the first of its kind and will focus on leading-edge medical science to seek new treatments for diseases such as cancer.


The Joint Centre for Biomedicine is a collaboration between the University of Auckland-hosted Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health.

“This new agreement in medical research marks a new stage in an exciting and forward-looking partnership that not only underlines the strong relationship between China and New Zealand in medical research but will generate significant medical and economic benefits for both countries,” says University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon.

A signing event at the University of Auckland today, involving a delegation led by Professor Yaping Zhang, Vice President of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and which includes the unveiling of a plaque, builds on the Strategic Research Alliance Joint Research Programme, established and funded by the Government in 2013. It is jointly funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Today’s signing formally recognises the ongoing collaboration between Professor Ke Ding from the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health and New Zealand researchers Dr Jeff Smaill and Associate Professor Adam Patterson.

Dr Smaill, of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and an Associate Investigator at the Maurice Wilkins Centre, leads a research group in drug development targeted towards treatments for lung cancer.

Associate Professor Adam Patterson, also from the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and the Maurice Wilkins Centre, works in drug development which has resulted in clinical trials for the treatment of lung cancer and head and neck cancer.

“We are delighted to be working together with our colleagues in China in such a close collaboration. The New Zealand-China relationship has deepened throughout the process of this agreement and we see many, many valuable opportunities ahead,” Dr Patterson said.

Professor Rod Dunbar, Director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, welcomed Professor Yaping Zhang and Professor Duanqing Pei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences to New Zealand.

“We are very excited about the new opportunities that this agreement will generate and we are glad that the Maurice Wilkins Centre has been able to foster this relationship.”

Dr Smaill said he very much looked forward to working with the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health in such an important area of research and thanked the Health Research Council for its support.

“The funding support we have received from the Health Research Council of New Zealand has also been a vital ingredient in enabling us to build this international relationship.”

The University of Auckland’s knowledge transfer company Auckland UniServices will lead commercialisation of the new project which includes a joint agreement on IP development.

Chief Executive Dr Andy Shenk said: “This Research and Commercialisation Agreement helps accelerate and build further value in developing therapies for cancer treatment.”


For more information contact:

Anne Beston  I  Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland

Email:, Tel: +64 9 923 3258, Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089