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East-West Connections: UC San Diego Extension helps forge new alliances across the Pacific

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Bridging academics with industry is one of UC San Diego Extension’s hallmarks and its recent BioBeach Summer program was no exception. Through the unique program, 40 students from Zhejiang University of Technology were able to study at a world-renowned research institution while getting a firsthand look at San Diego’s ever-growing biomedical and pharmaceutical industry.

To develop the program, UC San Diego Extension partnered with Sino-American Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SABPA) and Davidia Healthtech, a San Diego-based biomedical technology company. Both SABPA and Davidia worked with Extension because they knew Extension had the expertise to design a program that met Zhejiang University of Technology’s stringent scientific requirements as well as provide connections to a myriad of biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.

The visiting Zhejiang University of Technology students participated in a highly tailored program that offered classes in such disciplines as medicinal chemistry and drug development, taught by UC San Diego professors including Dr. Dionicio Siegel, associate professor, UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In addition, UC San Diego Extension instructors and experts from the pharmaceutical industry lectured students on trending topics and scientific breakthroughs. To reinforce the classroom learning, the Zhejiang University students visited biotech and pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Dart NeuroScience.
 

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Hua Deng, Ph.D., president of Davidia Healthtech and a former UC San Diego Extension student, said the program was able to link knowledge with practice in a unique way.

“UC San Diego Extension is able to connect an academic background with industry experience because the instructors are leading scientists and researchers themselves,” she said.

Dr. Yahu A. Liu, president of SABPA and an investigator at Genomics institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, said BioBeach also provided a window into one the most successful biotech clusters in the world.

“The students got to know the biotech industry, which is very famous here in San Diego. It expands the student’s vision and understanding of the industry,” he said.

Emphasis was not only placed on academics, the group also took a number of cultural fieldtrips to some of San Diego’s most famous attractions. They also spent an afternoon doing community service at SABPA’s annual picnic where they had the occasion to practice their conversational English.

Despite all the cultural and academic opportunities, the students agreed that the real highlight was San Diego’s preeminent attraction – the beach.
 

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Because the BioBeach program was such a success – both for students and for the program partners – there are plans to continue and expand the program to offer more Zhejiang University of Technology students the opportunity to study the growing biotech sector with a San Diego perspective.

Reflecting on her first abroad experience, Yiwen Wu, one of the Zhejiang students, said the BioBeach program changed both the way she viewed learning and her educational goals.

“This experience impressed me a lot,” she said. “It taught me that I can go on to get a master’s and a doctor’s degree. What impressed me most was people’s attitude about studying here.”

For more information about UC San Diego Extension’s drug development and medicinal chemistry programs, please visit extension.ucsd.edu/sciences.



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