Partnership Between Pitt and Tsinghua Reaches Milestone

By: Chuck Staresinic

A highly innovative global partnership connecting the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine with the top science and technology university in all of China reached an important milestone this week.

On Monday, 13 Chinese medical students who previously spent two years in Pittsburgh as part of Pitt’s Tsinghua Scholars Program graduated from the Tsinghua University School of Medicine. They are the first Pitt-Tsinghua Scholars to earn their medical degrees. Initiated in 2012 to elevate the training of Chinese physician-scientists, the Tsinghua Scholars Program allows medical students from the university to undergo a rigorous, two-year biomedical research training program in Pittsburgh.

The historic agreement between Pitt and Tsinghua University was recently renewed for a second five-year term. The Tsinghua Scholars Program currently has 67 alumni and 25 active scholars on Pitt’s campus, where they work in the laboratories of some of Pitt’s most accomplished biomedical researchers. To date, 44 Pitt faculty members have participated as mentors.

Since the program’s inception, Tsinghua Scholars have been co-authors on more than 70 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, and they have given more than 100 oral and poster presentations at local and national scientific meetings.

Building on the success of the program, the two medical schools are considering the formation of a combined M.D./Ph.D. program, which would be modeled after the highly successful Medical Scientist Training Program at Pitt and other U.S. medical schools. If implemented, it would be China’s first such dual-degree program.