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Taiwan's NCKU research momentum remains despite coronavirus pandemic

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread worldwide and lockdowns are extended, Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) is tapping into one of its cross-border collaboration projects that unites international and local medical experts to hammer out solutions to address post-pandemic global challenges.



Remote collaboration has become a norm at the school, led by its forward-thinking leaders and management teams. Despite a halt in face-to-face meetings, the switch was swift and painless not only because of its mature internet communication system but also its wide-reaching satellite operations, which NCKU started in 2017 by setting up overseas research centers at partnered universities in Vietnam, Malaysia, and Thailand as part of its annual overseas joint research program.


In 2019, the centers focused on nanomaterials, artificial intelligence, elderly care, infectious disease prevention, innovative industries, big data, digital dentistry, and smart medical care. This year, the annual program continues to shine, with eight teams comprised of 55 experts from four countries, 27 of whom live outside Taiwan.


The teams aim to find new solutions for dengue fever, biomass energy, prevention and treatment of serious diseases, energy storage systems, sustainable energy and materials, digital dentistry, and chronic wound care. 


Prof. Hsiao-Wen Wang (王筱雯), NCKU's vice president for international affairs and the general supervisor of NCKU's overseas research centers, told Taiwan News that the program upholds a problem-solving strategy toward global issues and challenges utilizing an interdisciplinary and integrated approach. It encourages outstanding senior scholars to coach students selected from participating schools by taking part in planning research proposals.


For example, a joint project between Prof. Oscar Guey-Chuen Perng (彭貴春) at NCKU’s Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Thailand's Mahidol University (MU) will integrate Prof. Perng's lab results in dengue virus research with MU's dengue clinical data. Furthermore, studying the mechanisms by which the dengue virus contributes to leukemia's pathological process may trigger a new direction for dengue virus research.


Students who participate in this study will learn basic biological knowledge and lab procedures, including flow cytometry analysis and how to conduct enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA).


Another project, proposed by Assoc. Prof. Hsien-Tai Chiu (邱顯泰) from NCKU's chemistry department and the NCKU BT&D2 team, has successfully established international and long-term cooperative programs with research teams from the University of Malaya (UM) and MU to carry out collaborative research projects leading to benefits on either party. The UM team is composed of 10 principal investigator (PI) laboratories from the departments of pharmacology, chemistry and life sciences, as well as the Center of Natural Products Research and Drug Discovery.


The MU team comprises 5 PIs, research associates, and graduate students from the faculties of medicine, dentistry, and public health. They aim to develop clinical drugs and healthy food for the prevention and treatments of various diseases, especially those associated with aging, cancers, and metabolic syndrome.


Through academic research, they are dedicated to promoting healthcare and well-being and reduce social problems, especially in this aging society.


Ather project is hosted by Prof. H. Sunny Sun (孫孝芳) at NCKU's Institute of Molecular Medicine. As hygiene and pregnancy complications are major concerns for pregnant women in Vietnam, Prof. Sun's team partnered with the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, and they are expected to tackle these problems by careful planning of standard prenatal health care programs, antenatal care programs such as genetic tests using next-generation sequencing, and postnatal care programs and consulting systems for pregnant women and their families.

News Source: Taiwan News

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