Graduate Health Sciences Welcomes Inaugural Class of Summer Interns

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The UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences welcomed students from Harbin Medical University, who will spend four weeks interning in laboratories on campus. (Photo by Thurman Hobson/UTHSC)

The College of Graduate Health Sciences at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center welcomed its inaugural class of eight students from Harbin Medical University (HMU) in China for the UTHSC Summer Interns Program on Thursday.

“This campus is very beautiful and very big,” said one of the interns. “I hope to learn many things here.”

Harbin Medical University located in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China, is recognized as the No. 1 public medical university in the country. The university has a full-time enrollment of approximately 10,000 students and employs 10,000 faculty and staff.

HMU partners with five foreign universities on joint medical programs, and has collaborative partnerships with 12 different countries. The students will work with the College of Graduate Health Sciences (GHS), and will be on campus for four weeks.

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, & Biochemistry, and program director for the IBS Program, lead the HMU students on a campus tour.

“It is our good fortune to have students from Harbin Medical University spend a few weeks interning in UTHSC laboratories this summer,” Donald Thomason, PhD, dean in the UTHSC College of Graduate Health Sciences said. “This is the start of a collaboration between our universities for education and research. In education, we not only have the summer research interns, but we also welcome five PhD students from HMU entering the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBS) Program this fall.”

The GHS Summer Interns Program has been several years in the making. The college began the programs so that students and researchers abroad and at UTHSC could gain different perspectives in health care from their peers. By next summer, UTHSC hopes to have the opportunity available for students on campus to study abroad at Harbin Medical University.

“We’re glad you’re here,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at UTHSC, during a welcome reception held for the students. “We want this to be a good experience for you. At the end of the experience we want your feedback. We want to make the experience for the student’s next year an even better experience. We also want to reciprocate in kind, we want our students from here to come to Harbin and visit you. We consider you part of our family.”

The program is just one of a few in which UTHSC has partnered with Harbin Medical University. Others include exploring future joint manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceuticals in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. And this fall, the Office of Research will sponsor the CORNET Awards with HMU, further fostering collaborations in research. The CORNET Awards were created by the Office of Research to give research grants to cross-disciplinary science teams.

“We are confident that the collaboration with HMU on multiple levels will be of great benefit to both of our institutions,” said Dr. Thomason.