Dunedin-Shanghai MoU supports significant Alzheimer's and psychosis research collaboration
(Dunedin - 12 July 2019) – Funding for a second major science and technology research collaboration between the
University of Otago and a Shanghai tertiary institution has been awarded thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
signed between Enterprise Dunedin, Otago and the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission in 2016.
The three-year project will support Alzheimer's disease and psychosis research by Shanghai Mental Health Centre’s
Professor Wang Jijun and University of Otago Anatomy Associate Professor Liu Ping. The project will receive funding of
RMB500,000 (NZ$109,200) from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.
Specifically, the research will work on identification and verification of biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease and
Associate Professor Liu says, “This particular project initiates collaboration between the two countries in Alzheimer's
disease and psychosis research, and potentially other neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders. It offers a great
opportunity for large scale clinical biomarker research. Major findings from this study may have significant impacts on
early detection, diagnosis, prognosis and/or intervention of Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.”
Professor Jijun Wang’s research team at the Shanghai Mental Health Centre has been carrying out an international leading
longitudinal study involving a large cohort of adolescents and young adults at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
Associate Professor Liu’s research group at the University of Otago has been working on the mechanisms, biomarkers and
intervention of neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia,
schizophrenia and major depression).
Associate Professor Liu says, “The success of this NZ-Shanghai joint project is another fruitful outcome of Enterprise
Dunedin and Project China under the strong civic relationship with Shanghai over the years. The MOU signed by the
Shanghai Science and Technology Commission and Enterprise Dunedin has significantly facilitated and promoted scientific
cooperation between the two sister cities. Such collaborative opportunity is unique for researchers at the University of
Enterprise Dunedin Director, John Christie, adds, “We would like to acknowledge the assistance and support that the New
Zealand Consul General office in Shanghai has played in facilitating and supporting the establishment of the
relationship between Shanghai Science and Technology Commission and Enterprise Dunedin, which has been of enormous
benefit to both countries.”
University of Otago Deputy Vice-Chancellor External Engagement, Professor Helen Nicholson, who assisted with the
original MoU signing, says, “Collaborative projects like this enhance Dunedin’s and the University of Otago’s reputation
as a centre of educational and research excellence at the highest levels within China. We are delighted that the
Shanghai Science and Technology Commission has so generously supported this important collaborative project.”
Mr Christie adds that projects of this kind emphasise the importance of our sister city relationship with Shanghai, and
the potential that lies in our friendship ties with other Chinese cities.
“Dunedin benefits from delegations such as the Mayor’s visit this month that represent Dunedin in China. It’s during
events like these that Memorandums of Understanding are initiated and/or confirmed. It’s where opportunities are created
in areas such as joint tertiary research, incoming international students, fashion and film industry connections, plus
business and tourism contacts and networks.”
The first collaboration to benefit from the MoU assisted with gout related research by Otago’s Professor Tony Merriam
and Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Professor Shi Yongyong, which received RMB500,000 from the Shanghai S Commission in 2017.