Science collaboration with China


Collaboration is important in science to maximise discovery and innovation. “Australia has a lot to gain by working with partners from across the world. And given China’s rise and scale in the global research landscape it makes absolute sense for Australian researchers to work very closely with Chinese counterparts.” It’s a relationship the Australian Government has been developing for 40 years. Now the Australia-China Science and Research Fund offers workshops and symposiums for scientists to gain valuable networking opportunities. “Traditionally researchers in Australia tend to partner with the US or the UK, but I always thought of Asia as being the global partner for us because of their location, so I had a big interest in seeing the opportunities that were there.” Dr Ed Bertram has been developing his Chinese network since 2007 when he took part in the Young Scientists Exchange Program. “I’ve seen production of some amazing new facilities and capabilities in terms of infrastructure that can support that research.” In 2016 Dr Bertram helped set up a precision immunology research centre in Shanghai with Professor Carola Vinuesa, one of Australia’s top immunologists. “In Renji Shanghai Hospital, we can recruit more patients with any of these rare auto immune diseases than in the whole of Australia. So that is obviously incredibly powerful when you want to study a disease, let’s say like lupus, or some rare types of rheumatoid arthritis.” There are more than 80 different auto immune diseases worldwide, so setting up a pipeline of knowledge is vital. “We found around ten novel monogenic causes of auto immune disease. We have generated a similar number of novel CRISPR edited models of disease and we are starting to write our first publications.” It’s significant progress and shows the importance of international partnerships. “I think it’s been an incredible learning experience. A beautiful opportunity.” “My experience has been fantastic. It’s been very fruitful, not just from the research point of view but also from understanding the culture and the country. I certainly recommend it to other researchers in Australia to drive relationships with China because they will be one of the big global powers going into the future.”