Project Awards Summary 2020-21

Business, Economics, Law, and Policy

One Belt One Road Initiative and Implications for Central Asia

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Thomas Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law, The University of Chicago Law School
  • Adam Chilton, Assistant Professor and Walter Mander Research Scholar, The University of Chicago Law School

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been described as the most ambitious foreign policy project since the Marshall Plan. Beyond its impact on investment, infrastructure and trade, the BRI will have a significant impact on legal institutions and will require new innovations in law. 

This project will bring together leading legal scholars from the United States, China, and Central Asia to meet at the University of Chicago Center in Beijing to discuss their comparative research on the BRI and its legal implications in their respective home countries through a one-and-half-day conference. University of Chicago law students will attend the conference after a 3-day study program in Beijing, and will embark on a 7-day field trip in Uzbekistan following the conference. The students will learn about the BRI’s impact on international and domestic law, and will be able to see the situation “on the ground” through meetings with legal professionals at different government institutions, law firms, and NGOs in Beijing and in Tashkent.


Culture, Society, Religion, and the Arts

Bodies of Knowledge: Medicine, Literature, History

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Judith Farquhar, Max Palevsky Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology, The University of Chicago
  • Michael Rossi, Associate Professor, Department of History, The University of Chicago
  • Lili Lai, Associate Professor, Institute of Medical Humanities, Peking University 

Western traditions in the arts and sciences have for several hundred years been committed to a common-sense understanding of the human body that is structural and mechanistic. For most moderns, to know the body is to conceptually understand, or visualize, its organs and functions. Non-Western traditions present many alternative approaches to understanding bodies, however, as Shigehisa Kuriyama has famously pointed out in his comparisons of Greek and Chinese bodily “expressiveness.” 

This project, developed over the course of a years-long collaboration between Judith Farquhar and Michael Rossi at UChicago and Lili Lai at Peking University, will explore the relevance of interpretive approaches—of readings, soundings, hearings, traversals, explorations (etc.) of the body, as it were—to medical ethics and person-centered medical care. And we will consider how a comparative focus on embodiment, in and beyond medicine and the sciences, can make the humanities more attentive to our many forms of material life. This conference will bring together an exciting group of scholars writing in Chinese about bodies and medicine (both traditional medicine and modern biomedicine) with Chicago scholars who have been doing similarly innovative research.

Cultures of Labor: Migrant Worker Literature and Media Practices in Contemporary China

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Paola Iovene, Associate Professor in Chinese Literature, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago
  • Huiyu Zhang, Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, Peking University

This ongoing collaboration brings together scholars, activists, and social workers based within and outside China to discuss the ways in which migrant workers cope with experiences of precarity and dislocation through cultural practices such as writing, performance, and use of internet and social media. The overall goal of this project is twofold: to introduce humanistic perspectives to problems that have been discussed primarily by social scientists, and to broaden the discussion beyond academia by including independent scholars, artists, and activists. The focus is not so much on the content of media representations per se, and not solely on stories that have become widely known, but rather on ephemeral and not necessarily visible practices that sometimes become public but sometimes are only shared in small groups, and yet help individuals go about their day and find meaning in their existence. 

Building on the success of the 2019 workshop on the same topic, this meeting will bring together a group of attendees to revise, share feedback, and work on translation issues on papers to be compiled into a special journal issue, one of very few English-language journal issues that will include contributions by China-based scholars and activists.

City of Coiled Dragons: Joint Archaeological Field Project at the Bronze Age Site of Panlongcheng

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Yung-ti Li, Associate Professor, department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, The University of Chicago
  • Changping Zhang, Professor of Archaeology, Wuhan University
  • Sun Zhuo, Associate Research Fellow, School of History, Wuhan University

The Bronze Age walled settlement of Panlongcheng (City of Coiled Dragon), dating to the 16th and 13th centuries BCE, is in the Middle Yangzi River Valley in Wuhan, Hubei. First discovered in the 1950s, Panlongcheng represents the southernmost settlement of the Erligang civilization based in the Central Plains region of the Yellow River Valley. As the material culture of Panlongcheng resembles that of the northern Erligang civilization, the vast distance between the two sites is seen as the result of the expansion of the Erligang civilization into southern China. Panlongcheng therefore provides a unique opportunity to examine the formation of a bronze civilization with considerable territorial control over the landscape of ancient China.

The three-year joint archaeological project at Panlongcheng between the University of Chicago and Wuhan University denotes the first-ever international collaboration at the site. The project intends to provide new research orientations by adopting a comparative approach, combining archaeological methods and theories from both the Chinese and the North American academic traditions. The joint project therefore continues previous lines of investigation while at the same time introducing new research topics, such as craft production, urban landscape, and household-level archaeology - topics that have yet to be explored but are crucial to the understanding of the nature of the settlement itself and the role of Panlongcheng in the context of Bronze Age China.


Science, Energy, Medicine, & Public Health

Medical and Surgical Decisions in Critically Ill Patients: Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Peter Angelos, Linda Kohler Anderson Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Mark Siegler, Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • J. Michael Millis, Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago

From the historical beginning of medicine through the mid-twentieth century, when faced with a critically ill patient, physicians asked, “What can be done for this patient?” In recent years, this central question has changed. Now physicians are increasingly faced with the question, “What should we do for this patient?” This shift is critical to how decisions are made for critically ill patients. In order to answer “what should be done?” physicians must consider many other aspects of the patient’s condition. The values of the patient or the patient’s family are important. The economic implications of the proposed medical interventions to the patient/family and possibly to society may play a role. The values of the treating physicians may also shift the decisions that are made. Exactly how such decisions are made for critically ill patients varies depending on whether this is a newborn infant or an elderly patient with multiple comorbidities. 

This project proposes to explore how decisions are made for such patients who are at the limits of what medicine or surgery can offer in different cultures by convening conferences in Beijing and Hong Kong. By involving physicians, ethicists, and philosophers from the US, China, and Hong Kong, the PIs intend to highlight similarities and differences in how such decisions are made and who makes the decisions. The goal of the conferences will be a deeper awareness of the complexity of these decisions and how culture impacts the decisions that are made.

Joint Graduate Course on Psychiatric Genomics and Imaging Genetics

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Jubao Duan, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, The University of Chicago
  • Weiha Yue, Professor and Deputy Director, Institute of Mental Health, Peking University Sixth Hospital

Since 2018, Professors Jubao Duan and Weiha Yue have taught a joint Graduate Course on Psychiatric Genomics and Imaging Genetics at Peking University. This course aims to deepen the collaboration between the two world-class institutions by offering the graduate students of Peking University an opportunity to interact with internationally leading professors of advanced psychiatric genomics, with a particular focus on their applications toward imaging research in psychiatry. The 2018 and 2019 courses have promoted a substantial collaboration between UChicago professors and local institutions, leading to coauthorship and an international collaborative grant application. 

ISG-QSSA Working Group Implementation Working Group

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Mark Ferguson, Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Jianan Ren, Professor and Director, Research Institute of General Surgery, Nanjing University
  • Larry Hollier, Professor and Chief, Division of Plastic Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Andrew Hill, Professor, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland
  • Peter Nthumba, Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • Jaymie Henry, Physician, Department of Surgery, Florida Atlantic University

Globally, up to 5 billion people do not have uniform access to high quality and safe surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anesthesia care. Establishment of high quality and safe emergency and essential surgical care in low-resource areas has the potential to avert up to 1.5 million deaths every year. Global momentum is growing to address the lack of access to emergency and essential surgical care through capacity building efforts, surgical systems strengthening, and national surgical planning activities. The need to standardize the quality and safety of surgical care delivery is becoming a pressing issue, and this can be accomplished through a compilation of international standards and guidelines that bring together common elements present in the delivery of safe surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anaesthesia care.

This project will convene the G4-ISS International Standards and Guidelines for Quality Safe Surgery and Anesthesia (ISG-QSSA) Working Group, which comprises providers, academics, and practitioners in the fields of global surgery, economics, public health, government, and public policy for a 2-day working session. TThe goal is the efficient and sustainable delivery of high quality and safe surgical, obstetric, trauma, and anesthesia care in low-resource environments. The meeting will result in an implementation policy for building cost-effective, practical, scalable, and sustainable high quality and safe surgical systems in developing countries.

Novel Bayesian Adaptive Methods for Oncology Clinical Trials

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Yuan Ji, Professor of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health Sciences, The University of Chicago
  • Lin Shen, Vice President and Professor of Oncology, Beijing Cancer Hospital

Gastric cancer is among the top three most prevalent and lethal cancers in China. However, due to much lower prevalence and mortality rate in western countries, drug development for gastric cancer has been slow and disappointing. The gold standard treatment is still surgery and chemotherapy for most gastric cancers, and little advancement has occurred in the immune therapies for gastric cancer. Platform trials (e.g., I-SPY 2) are a great tool allowing efficient and flexible new therapies to be tested over time for challenging diseases. 

This six-week residence program will aim to foster and deepen the collaboration between the Center for Clinical Trial Excellence at The University of Chicago and Beijing Cancer Hospital in the development and application of Bayesian adaptive methods for modern clinical trials. In particular, the program will support faculty and a graduate student from UChicago to closely work with clinicians at Beijing Cancer Hospital to discuss Bayesian adaptive clinical trials and prepare a novel design for a platform clinical trial in gastric cancer in China. 

Improving Functional Recovery of Electrical Injury Survivors

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Raphael C. Lee, Paul and Allene Russell Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Chin-Tu Chen, Associate Professor, Department of Radiology, The University of Chicago
  • Mei Li, Director, Shanghai Electric Power Hospital

A longstanding productive collaboration between the University of Chicago Electrical Trauma Program and the Shanghai Electrical Power Hospital began in 1992 for the purpose of improving the care of electrical shock patients. In the past two years, substantial progress to achieving the goal of a large scale funded collaboration between Shanghai Power Hospital and the University of Chicago was accomplished. In 2018, following an electrical industry site visit by both the Shanghai Electric Power Company and the American Electrical Power Research Institute to learn more about progress made by the collaboration. Since the site visit, the director of health from SEPC and EPRI’s Director of Safety Research have established direct dialogue about collaborating to support this collaboration to advance the treatment of electrical injury patients.

This year’s project will support planning meetings to finalize the details of the grant proposal to be submitted to both EPRI and SEPC and to support a workshop on rehabilitation of electrical trauma survivors to be held at the Center in Beijing.

Professional Development and Student Wellbeing in Medical Education Reform

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Wei Wei Lee, Assistant Dean of Students, Pritzker School of Medicine; Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Mark Siegler, Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • James Woodruff, Associate Dean of Students, Pritzker School of Medicine; Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Jonathan Lio, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Hui Pan, Vice President, Peking Union Medical College
  • Yali Cong, Deputy Director, Institute of Medical Humanities; Professor, Medical Ethics Program Peking University
  • Guo Qi, Associate Researcher, Deputy Minister of Student Affairs, Peking University
  • Jingyi Fan, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Wuhan University School of Medicine
  • Jinxin Li, Director of Postgraduate Education, Wuhan University School of Medicine

The Chinese healthcare system and medical education landscape have undergone significant change in the past two decades. Rapid commercialization of the healthcare system has led to a decline in physician accountability and public trust in the profession. In response, medical educators have called for an increased focus on medical professionalism. Medical education has moved away from conceptualizing professionalism as a list of behaviors to be measured. Instead, the dynamic construct of Professional Identity Formation (PIF), the process of internalizing a profession’s core values and beliefs, has emerged as an explicit goal of medical education. Interestingly, research has shown that physician burnout is associated with the higher likelihood of professionalism lapses. Therefore, addressing burnout and student wellbeing may be a promising way to augment professionalism training in China.

This project proposes a 1-day symposium at the Center in Beijing to bring together medical educators and students from across China to discuss the current state of professional development and wellness programming in Chinese medical schools. The aims of the symposium will be to promote professional development, Professional Identity Formation (PIF), and student wellbeing as a priority in medical education reform in China and to provide faculty training on these topics, as well as identifying potential areas for collaboration between Chinese and American medical educators.

Symposium on Clinical Leadership and Medical Education in China

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Jonathan Lio, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Mark Siegler, Lindy Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • H. Barrett Fromme, Associate Dean for Faculty Development in Medical Education; Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Chicago
  • Peter Angelos, Linda Kohler Anderson Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • J. Michael Millis, Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Renslow Sherer, Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Rong Chen, Deputy Director, Endocrinology and Reproductive Center, Peking Union Medical College
  • Limeng Chen, Professor of Medicine, Peking Union Medical College
  • Xiaoyun Jiang, Director of Pediatrics, First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University

In 2009, China embarked on a major effort to reform healthcare and promised to provide equal access to healthcare at reasonable costs. In the decade since then, China has made tremendous progress, expanding healthcare coverage to more than 95% of its population, and more than quadrupling healthcare expenditures. Gaps still remain however, including increasing the quality of care, efficiency in healthcare delivery, control of non-communicable diseases, control of healthcare costs, and public satisfaction with health services. The organizers of this proposed symposium have had a long history working with key partners in China in addressing the crucial changes needed in healthcare and medical education in order to achieve greater health of the Chinese population.

In the past few years, the University of Chicago has developed two training programs focused on addressing quality of healthcare and education in China – the Clinical Leadership Development Fellowship (CLDF) and the International Medical Educators Program (IMEP). Both target current and future leaders in clinical medicine and education, respectively, from influential hospitals across China. A critical component of both training programs is to develop a concrete hospital management or education reform project while in Chicago to be implemented back at their home institutions. In the academic year 2020-21, the PIs will hold a 1-day symposium in Beijing to invite former fellows of CLDF and IMEP to discuss progress and barriers in implementing educational and clinical leadership reforms in China.

Conference on Advanced Therapies for Solid Tumors & Academic Development

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) J. Michael Millis, Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Mitchell Posner, Thomas D. Jones Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Jeffrey Matthews, Dallas B. Phemister Professor, Department of Surgery, The University of Chicago
  • Yilei Mao, Professor, Department of Liver Surgery, Peking Union Medical College Hospital

There is tremendous discrepancy between the clinical experience in China and its ability to relate that experience to the rest of the scientific world via peer reviewed manuscripts in the English-speaking world. One of the areas in which that gulf is most evident is in in the diagnosis, management, research and surgical treatment of solid tumors. The clinical experience with these tumors is extensive given the population and incidence of disease, but the scientific assessment of the various clinical scenarios continues to lag. Due to a lack of sophistication in writing in English and knowledge of the English-language academic publication ecosystem these efforts are not recognized. 

Over the past several years, this important conference has become a significant convening for the international cancer community, bringing in a series of distinguished speakers from all disciplines associated with the care of the cancer patient and drawing an ever-growing audience. This event will also continue the efforts undertaken in past years toward developing and enhancing the manuscript writing skills of young Chinese physicians interested in academic careers, as well as providing opportunities for UChicago medical residents to interact with international experts.

Engaging Health Professionals to Create a Pediatric Medical Home for Chinese Children

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Michael Msall, Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Chicago
  • Yingshan Shih, Clinical Associate, Department of Pediatrics, The University of Chicago
  • Ting-Yu Li, Professor, Department of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, Chongqing Medical University
  • Guoqiang Cheng, Deputy Director of NICU, Children’s Hospital of Fudan University
  • Jincai Feng, Associate Professor and Deputy Director of Rehabilitation Division, Children’s Hospital of Shanghai, Shanghai Jiaotong University

The Medical Home (also known as Patient or Family Centered Medical Home) is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care that facilitates partnerships between patients, clinicians, medical staff, and families. It is a medical practice organized to produce higher quality care and improved cost efficiency across healthcare teams and settings. This approach does not currently exist in China, and massive shortages in pediatricians have made pediatric healthcare access even more difficult. 

This project aims to introduce the child medical home model to pediatric health professionals in China, in order to support a framework for improvement in the quality of engagement and adult education around pediatric care. In order to do so, the PI and local partners will work to develop existing online pediatric training platforms for community pediatric, preventive, and family physicians as well as parents.

International Workshop on Crystallography of Materials

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Mark Rivers, Research Professor, Department of Geophysical Sciences, The University of Chicago
  • Vitali Prakapenka, Research Professor, Center for Advanced Radiation Sources, The University of Chicago
  • Haozhe Liu, Professor, Center for High Pressure Science & Technology Advanced Research, Harbin Institute of Technology
  • Changqing Jin, Professor & Head of High Pressure Research Team, Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Junliang Sun, Associate Professor, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University

Building on a longtime collaboration between the PIs, the International Workshop on Crystallography for Materials will be held in Beijing in 2020. This event will develop and strengthen links and interactions between US and Chinese scientists, as well as colleagues from other countries, in the field of crystallography in materials. Aims of the workshop will include reexamining the scope and techniques for crystallography, promoting the development and dissemination of best practices, and sharing information on facilities available worldwide. 

International Symposium on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Raymond Roos, Marjorie and Robert E. Straus Professor, Department of Neurology, The University of Chicago
  • Xiaoxi Zhuang, Professor, Department of Neurobiology, The University of Chicago
  • Xiang-jun Chen, Professor, Department of Neurology, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University
  • Dongsheng Fan, Professor, Department of Neurology, Peking University Third Hospital

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease that has no effective treatment. Of note, ALS - like other neurodegenerative diseases - has increased in frequency because the elderly population has increased, and increasing age is an important risk factor. The University of Chicago has one of the longest running multidisciplinary ALS clinics in the world, and has been a leading institution in treating patients and investigating ALS pathogenesis. Interestingly, findings in ALS patients in the US differ from those in China, e.g., C9orf72 mutations are the most common cause of inherited ALS in the US, but are not common in China. 

This project will convene an international symposium on ALS at the Center in Beijing to clarify and better understand these differences and establish a platform for broad exchanges and research collaborations between the University of Chicago with leading institutes and hospitals studying and treating ALS in China.

US-China Medical Residency Exchange and Symposiums

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Renslow Sherer, Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Stacie Levine, Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Jonathan Lio, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Shuyang Zhang, Party Secretary, Peking Union Medical College Hospital
  • Jie Qiu, Director, Education Office, Peking Union Medical College
  • Jihai Liu, Vice Director, Education Office, Peking Union Medical College
  • Xiaohong Ning, Associate Professor, Department of Geriatrics, Peking Union Medical College

There is an enormous interest in China to learn from the West as they have embarked on medical residency standardization, a national mandate to standardize training organization, implementation and evaluation to ensure quality of medical graduates. UChicago Medicine is well-positioned to make a lasting impact, contributing to the formulation of the standards, contents, methods and the overall development of this initiative. Since the launch of the bilateral residency education program between the University of Chicago and Peking Union Medical College in 2014, the partnership has been continuously strengthened through robust residency exchanges and educational events and over 50 residents have participated in the residency exchange program. These academic and cultural exchanges have enabled ideas for innovations and forces for change.

This year’s project will continue the residency exchange program and implement two conferences - one in residency education and another in palliative medicine education - in the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Fostering International Collaboration on Antimicrobial Resistance

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Rick Stevens, Professor, Department of Computer Science, The University of Chicago
  • James Davis, Computational Biologist, UChicago CASE, The University of Chicago
  • Tom Brettin, Strategic Program Manager, Argonne National Laboratory
  • Bin Cao, Director, Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care, China-Japan Friendship Hospital
  • Xiaohui Zao, Research Scientist and Physician, China-Japan Friendship Hospital

The dwindling number of effective antibiotics and the concomitant rise and spread of antimicrobial resistant pathogens has created an acute problem that challenges the global research community. Building international collaborative efforts focusing on research strategies for combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR) can drive a new understanding of AMR mechanisms and inform the next generation of analytical tools for the scientific community. In the last two years, whole genome sequencing has reached widespread adoption for pathogen tracking and epidemiology, and artificial intelligence (AI)-based methods have begun to overtake traditional bioinformatic analysis techniques.

This project will convene a symposium through the University of Chicago Center in Beijing with the goal of establishing new collaborations focusing on artificial intelligence-based approaches to predict and track resistance, identifying and understand resistance mechanisms, and developing new treatment strategies.

Empowering Patient/Family Centered Care Communication

Key Faculty & Collaborators:

  • (PI) Shellie Williams, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Stacie Levine, Professor, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Jonathan Lio, Assistant Professor of Infectious Diseases and Global Health, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago
  • Deng Di, Professor, Department of Oncology, Zhongnan Hospital, Wuhan University
  • Xiaohong Ning, Associate Professor, Department of Geriatrics, Peking Union Medical College

China currently has a population of 1.4 billion individuals representing the elderly segment and expected to grow from 17% to 35% in the next 30 years. Serious illness and end-of-life (EOL) care become increasingly common in an aging society and often requires new approaches to care that morph from the focus of disease to whole person focused, such as in palliative medical care. However, in China with the population experiencing limited connections with the health system other than during hospitalizations, many individuals may not have regular opportunities to establish lasting PCP relationships and primary care interactions to establish values-based EOL care plans and community-based management of serious illness symptoms. Improving public awareness and education of values as a compass for establishing medical care in serious illness and enhancing health professionals comfort with eliciting values to discuss serious illness medical care are key initiatives for improving serious illness care. 

This project’s focus is providing training for the community and health professionals to improve these serious illness communications quantity and quality. The project consists of two symposiums in Beijing and Wuhan focused on targeting patients and families living with serious illness to discuss vehicles for outlining their advance care wishes and discussing myths and realities of palliative care, in addition to a separate 2 hour interactive workshop for health professionals on palliative communication.