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A Productive Collaboration: Our Visit to Prof. Chen Yorong at Lanzhou University

Akihiko Ozaki, M.D., Ph.D. Physician

at the Medical Governance Research Institute

In October 2023, we visited Professor Chen Yaorong at the EBM Center, Lanzhou University, China. The aim was to enhance our collaborative research on pharmaceutical funding, a topic we've been jointly exploring with Prof. Chen since last year.

Here’s why this partnership is so crucial:

1. Shared Interests, Complementary Strengths:

Our team has been focusing on the impact of financial interests on clinical guidelines in healthcare. Prof. Chen and his team also work on clinical guidelines, with a specific interest in how financial conflicts influence them. This creates a perfect match, where our different strengths align and enrich our collaborative research.

2. Prof. Chen's Remarkable Productivity:

As of November 9, 2023, a search for his name in Pubmed yields 284 papers, including publications in top-tier journals like BMJ. A memorable conversation highlighted our respective publications: upon hearing that I have published over 350 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, Professor Chen, with a pleasant demeanor, remarked that this number still doesn't categorize one as an expert in a specific field. This shows his character, devoid of any hint of rivalry, and instead, encouraging a positive outlook.

3. The Significance of Asian Perspectives:

The field of conflict of interest research has been dominated by Western scholars, with limited Asian representation. Prof. Chen’s involvement brings a valuable and rare Asian perspective to this global discussion.

This visit, under such intentions, is considered one of the best experiences among my overseas travels. The primary reason being Professor Chen's emphasis on our joint research, which was evident in various interactions. He meticulously arranged the travel, accommodation, and local schedules, even involving his students in the planning process. Moreover, he took the effort to introduce us to Lanzhou's culture and cuisine.

While discussions on research were intense and could have consumed all our time, Professor Chen ensured we experienced local culture. He guided us to museums and the Yellow River flowing through the city, emphasizing that understanding each other's culture is also a part of collaborative research.

Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province, is famous as the entry point of Buddhism into China. The province houses Dunhuang, a global tourist destination. The museum in Lanzhou, showcasing relics like the 'Bronze Galloping Horse', reflects the city's history as a vital juncture on the Silk Road. Additionally, Lanzhou's proximity to Islamic regions influences its culinary culture, with less emphasis on pork and a preference for beef and lamb. The local restaurants introduced us to the delicious versatility of lamb.

Visiting China during this period was concerning due to strained Japan-China relations following the release of ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant in August. However, such worries were unfounded regarding our visit.

Professor Chen's inclusive approach is not exclusive to us; he maintains excellent relations with many Western academics. Despite the challenges posed by China's inland location, which is not inherently conducive to international research, Professor Chen has achieved commendable results, rivaling universities in Beijing and Shanghai. This visit has deepened my respect for him significantly.

Lastly, I extend my gratitude to Ryo-san, a Chinese staff member of our Institute, for her assistance during this visit.

*This article is a translation of Japanese MRIC published on Jan 17, 2024


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