UCSF to Pursue Strategic Partnership with King's College London

By Lisa Cisneros

At the Nov. 3 signing of a memorandum of understanding for a partnership between UCSF and King’s College London are, from left, Sam Hawgood, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine; A. Eugene Washington, executive vice chancellor and provost at UCSF; Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy; Robert Lechler, vice-principal of King’s College London and executive director of King’s Health Partners; and John Featherstone, dean of the UCSF School of Dentistry.

UCSF has agreed to a pursue a strategic partnership with King’s College London to explore opportunities for scholarly interaction, cooperative research, faculty and student exchange and other forms of academic collaboration.

Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost A. Eugene Washington, MD, signed a memorandum of understanding with his counterpart Robert Lechler, vice-principal of King’s College London and executive director of King’s Health Partners at UCSF on Nov. 3.

Among the initial ideas for possible research collaboration between the two universities are genetics, immunology and global health.

Officials from King’s College London met with UCSF leaders last week, including Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, who endorsed the partnership.

“UCSF’s commitment to global health is evident in its many partnerships with countries throughout the world and with the launch of a new UC Institute of Global Health, an effort in which this University plays a leading role,” said Desmond-Hellmann. “Our new partnership with King’s College London will enhance opportunities for UCSF faculty and students by allowing both institutions to foster the integration and innovation of interdisciplinary research, education and patient care.”

Located in the heart of London, King’s College London is one of England’s oldest and most prestigious universities. King’s nine schools of study are Arts & Humanities; Biomedical & Health Sciences; the Dental Institute; Law; Medicine; the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery; Physical Sciences & Engineering; the Institute of Psychiatry, and Social Science & Public Policy.

The memorandum of understanding states that “Both institutions see advantages in the development of strong academic links and relationships, and agree to establish ties of friendship and cooperation for the purpose of promoting mutual understanding and academic, cultural and personal exchange.”

The agreement serves as a general framework for cooperation between the two institutions. A specific agreement of collaboration signed by both institutions will define the terms of the partnership.

The relationship between the two institutions will be overseen and coordinated by Sam Hawgood, MBBS, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs, and Ellen Solomon, research dean and head of the Division of Genetics & Development at King’s College London.

“We are delighted to pursue this strategic partnership because we believe our faculty and students will benefit from the intellectual and cultural exchange with their colleagues at King’s College London,” Hawgood said. “It is part of UCSF’s vision to foster fruitful research and academic collaborations with other institutions as the University works to fulfill its mission of advancing health worldwide.”™

Robert Lechler commented, “King’s is very excited about partnering with UCSF, one of the world’s leading academic health science centers. Like UCSF, we have an outstanding history of research success, and strive to integrate this seamlessly with clinical care. We too have a global vision of health care, and have every expectation that this collaboration will lead to real breakthroughs in health care around the world.”

Among the possible areas of collaboration to be explored between UCSF and King’s College London are:

  • Exchange of clinical, academic and managerial staff
  • Pursuit of short- and long-term study programs in both institutions
  • Exchange of graduate studies, continuing education and distance learning
  • Cooperation in training projects for specific areas of research and clinical training and
  • Consultation for curriculum development.

Several faculty scientists from UCSF and King’s College London have longstanding ties from which to build upon in this new partnership. In the coming weeks, officials from both institutions will discuss hosting joint workshops, in conjunction with the UK Science & Innovation team at the British Consulate San Francisco, where leading experts in these fields will share ideas on future collaboration. Those involved in the partnership include Keith Yamamoto, PhD, executive vice dean of research in the UCSF School of Medicine, and others to explore areas of common interest. This visit built on increasing contacts between the two institutions during the past few years, including a visit to UCSF by King’s Principal Rick Trainor in 2006.

Graduate students in dentistry and nursing from UCSF and King’s College London in the past participated in exchange programs at both universities, which ended in large part after the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Both institutions now are ready to rekindle academic exchange as both look toward developing global health leaders.

King’s Health Partners is a partnership between the five health schools of King’s College London and its three associated hospitals: Guy’s & St. Thomas’, King’s College and South London & Maudsley, combining the research, clinical and teaching elements of the world’s leading research-led universities and three of London’s most successful NHS Foundation Trusts. More information is available at www.kcl.ac.uk.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. Further information is available at www.ucsf.edu.

Photo by Irene Anicetti