National Cancer Center Partnership Expected to Advance Cancer Research at YSPH, Yale

A new partnership with the National Cancer Center of China will provide new opportunities for collaborative research, clinical trials and workforce training at the Yale School of Public Health, Yale Cancer Center and Yale Institute for Global Health.

The Memorandum of Understanding, signed May 1, seeks to advance research on cancer outcomes and cancer prevention and control. It includes exploration of a potential joint Cancer Outcome Research Center between the partners.

 “This is a great thrill for us,” said Sten H. Vermund, dean of the Yale School of Public Health. “We are exquisitely aware of China’s global leadership in the 21st century and …we know China intends to be a leading light in clinical care and in research of all kinds.”

Under the agreement, NCCC and Yale researchers will work together to obtain grant funding for basic and translational research involving cancer prevention, early detection, clinical trials, genome analysis and epidemiologic study.

The partners will share scientific information and identify areas for future collaboration in cancer care, such as pathology, surgical and medical oncology, radiology, and nuclear medicine. The parties will also host joint conferences and workshops and develop workforce training programs for students, residents, fellows and early career health professionals.

“It’s clear that if we are going to conquer this extraordinary series of diseases it requires collaboration among great centers,” Dr. Charles Fuchs, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief at Smilow Cancer Hospital, said during the signing ceremony. “I think this collaboration between (the NCCC) and Yale will advance cancer research in a way that neither of us could do alone.”

Yale and the National Cancer Center of China have been collaborating informally on workforce development and research training in cancer epidemiology and biostatistics since 2009 with funding support from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty training program. NCCC Director Dr. Jie He praised the work of Yale School of Public Health Associate Professor Dr. Yawei Zhang, Ph.D. ’04, MPH ’03, who has led many of the training workshops and has a longstanding working relationship with the NCCC.

Zhang is a recipient of the “Innovation and Pioneering” Award in Cancer Epidemiology from Jiangsu Province, China. Her research focuses on cancer prevention and prognosis, early life exposures and surgical outcomes. In particular, Zhang has pioneered the study of increasing rates of thyroid cancer worldwide.

“This MOU formalizes our continued collaboration with NCCC on cancer prevention and training,” Zhang said. “Furthermore, it will expand this collaboration into areas including, but not limited to: outcomes research, implementation sciences, clinical trials, cancer screening, and big data.”

During the China delegation’s three-day visit to Yale, they toured Yale research laboratories and attended presentations by scientists from Yale and the NCCC regarding lung cancer research, cancer outcomes, clinical research and big data.

“I hope today can be a new beginning of cooperation and friendship for both of us,” He said of the formalized partnership.

Other Yale representatives attending the signing and presentations were: Michael Skonieczny, deputy director, Yale Institute for Global Health; Melinda Irwin, associate dean of research, Yale School of Public Health; Cary Gross, professor of medicine and founding director of Yale’s Cancer Outcomes Public Policy and Effectiveness Research Center (COPPER); and Roy Herbst, ensign professor of medicine and chief of medical oncology, Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital. 

In addition, the following individuals from Yale attended the signing ceremony: Xiaomei Ma: professor of chronic diseases epidemiology, co-program leader of population sciences of YCC; Hongyu Zhao: professor and chair of Biostatistics Department; Yong Zhu: associate professor of environmental health sciences; Shi-yi Wang: associate professor of chronic diseases epidemiolog; Fawn Wang: director of East Asia, Office of International Affairs; Lan Jin: postdoctoral fellow at Yale School of Medicine.

Attending on behalf of the NCCC were: Min Dai: director of international communications; Ning Li: director of clinical trial center; Tinglin Qiu: deputy director of clinical affairs; Qiang Guo: director of NCCC Big Data Research Center; Yin Li: chief of thoracic surgery department; Nianzeng Xing: chief of Department of Urology.