China–Maurice Wilkins Centre Collaborative Research Programme (C-MWC)

Since 2012 the MWC has engaged successfully with scientific partners at prestigious Chinese institutions, especially the Chinese Academy of Sciences. These partnerships have produced exciting scientific findings and new therapies that are poised to enter clinical trials.

The C-MWC programme will allow the MWC to generate new scientific knowledge that can be translated into new treatments for cancer and metabolic, infectious, neurologic, and degenerative disease. These treatments will not only benefit the health of the people of both countries but are likely to also provide strong economic benefits.

The research programme will also deepen the relationship between New Zealand and China in a crucial high technology field, thereby increasing New Zealand’s international reputation for world-class research. New Zealand scientists will benefit, especially at an early career stage, through access to expertise, technology, and equipment/facilities not available within New Zealand, and through lifting their vision of what they can achieve through active engagement of leading scientists and institutions outside New Zealand.

2023 PROJECT FUNDING call - closes on 12 Dec 2022

The C-MWC invites applications for project funding from NZ-based biomedical investigators who would like to collaborate with their peers in China.

The C-MWC 2023 Project Funding Round will consider any proposals that aim to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic agents or diagnostic techniques with potential health benefits for both countries. NZ-based biomedical researchers who are not affiliated with the Maurice Wilkins Centre (MWC) are welcome to apply for funding, as well as MWC investigators.

Please note that this round is not limited to existing collaborations: investigators are also welcome to propose new collaborations (in contrast to the 2021 Project Funding Round). However, the application needs to aim to build an enduring relationship with Chinese researcher/s based at one or more prestigious Chinese research institutions, such as those affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Other eligibility criteria are detailed in the attached documents.

Check out the Open Call document and Budget form template for more information. Please right-click on the link and select "Save link as..." if the attachment does not automatically open.

Applications should be emailed to the C-MWC Executive Team ( by 12pm, Monday 12th December 2022.

Mailing list

The C-MWC has launched its mailing list subscription process. By signing up, you will be able to receive the latest updates via email on programme’s upcoming initiatives, such as funding calls, and matching events. The C-MWC welcomes all NZ-based biomedical researchers, who are keen, to join the list, including investigators who are not affiliated with the MWC.

If you are interested in the Programme and would like to stay on top of its future development, please sign up via the link:  Subscription Form. It should only take 1-3 minutes to complete.


The C-MWC is pleased to announce the Programme’s 2021 Project Funding result.

In this funding round, we invited applications from biomedical investigators based in NZ who have existing research collaborations with China, aiming to deepen partnerships with researchers and institutions in China and accelerate research into therapeutic agents with potential health benefits for both countries.

We received a total of 20 eligible applications from a wide range of institutions, requesting a total of $11.9 million of funding. The Programme’s Project Assessment Committee awarded a total of $3 million to 6 proposals detailed below for this round to support their existing research collaborations with China partners for up to 2 years. The process was reviewed and ratified by the MWC Board.

Congratulations to the successful applicants and thank you to the unsuccessful applicants for the applications. We were delighted to see the breadth of interactions with prestigious Chinese institutions. We will be following up with each of the applicants to see how the Programme might be able to help in future to deepen those collaborations.

Recipients of 2021 Project funding

Dr Mihnea Bostina, University of Otago

Dr Laura Burga, Dr Jemma Geoghegan, Profs Vernon Ward and Alex McLellan (University of Otago)

Prof Yiping Li, Institute of Human Virology and Zhongshan School of Medicine, Sun Yat-sen University

Structure-based engineering of broadly neutralizing antibodies against coronaviruses



Prof Alan Davidson, University of Auckland

Dr Veronika Sander (University of Auckland), Dr Cherie Stayner (University of Otago), and Prof Motonari Uesugi (University of Kyoto)

Prof Xiao Chris Zhang, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chemical screening in polycystic kidney organoids grown in microfluidic chips



Drs Kiel Hards and Matt McNeil, University of Otago

Prof Greg Cook and Dr Liam Harold (University of Otago)

Prof Zhengqiu Li, School of Pharmacy, Jinan University

Prof Tianyu Zhang, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Exploiting synergistic interactions in energy metabolism to combat drug resistant pathogens



Assoc Prof Kerry Loomes, University of Auckland

Prof Donghai Wu, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Prof Ke Ding, School of Pharmacy, Jinan University

Prof Yong Xu and Dr Tao Nie, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Targeting energy expenditure as a treatment for metabolic disease



Drs Rachel Perret and Rob Weinkove, Malaghan Institute of Medical Research

Prof Peng Li and Dr Le Qin, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences

New methods to improve CAR T cell therapy for cancer



Assoc Profs Jeff Smaill and Adam Patterson, University of Auckland

Dr Amir Ashoorzadeh, Mr Xiaojing Sean Lin, and Ms Raquel Ortega (University of Auckland)

Profs Xiaoyun Lu and Ke Ding, School of Pharmacy, Jinan University

Discovery of FGFR4-selective inhibitors for the treatment of liver cancer


c-mwc PROGRAMME executive team

Prof Rod Dunbar  MBChB, PhD, FRSNZ

Scientific Director


Mr Peter Lai  MBA, MSc

Administrative Director


Ms Wendy Li  GDip (Mgt), PGDip (PH)

Programme Manager