Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute partners with Chinese academic medical center

November 7, 2018

Leaders from Lifespan and Wuhan Union Hospital gather to sign an agreement
Lifespan President and CEO Timothy J. Babineau, M.D. and Union Hospital President Yu Hu, M.D., Ph.D. sign the agreement between the two institutions as members of their senior teams look on.

Leaders of Lifespan and the Lifespan Cardiovascular Institute convened Wednesday at Rhode Island Hospital with a delegation from Huazhong University of Science and Technology’s Tongji Medical College and Union Hospital in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China. The parties signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an exchange program centered around cardiovascular research and medical knowledge in the areas of cardiology, echocardiography and cardiovascular surgery.

University Cardiovascular Surgical Associates, the practice group which includes several top Lifespan surgeons, is also a party to the agreement.

The program initially calls for each institution to host two to five medical students, residents, fellows, physicians, faculty and other health care providers per year in an exchange arrangement. It is the intention of the participants to expand medical education and cultural awareness, develop collaborative research and education projects, and build a lasting relationship between and among the health care institutions. In Rhode Island, the program will be co-directed by Philip Haines, M.D., associate director of echocardiography at Rhode Island Hospital, and Frank Sellke, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery at Rhode Island and The Miriam hospitals and representing University Cardiovascular Surgical Associates.

The partnership originated with conversation between Dr. Haines and his mentor, Dr. Tao Wang of University of Pennsylvania, who had himself studied at Tongji Medical College. Haines, upon arriving in Providence from his fellowship at Penn, says he had a vision of expanding the cardiovascular research collaborations of both the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and the Lifespan hospitals as its major teaching affiliates.

“The exchange of faculty and trainees between these two organizations is an enormous opportunity in the global pursuit of medical knowledge and research breakthroughs,” said Haines. “The possibilities for both universities and hospitals cannot be underestimated. I am grateful for the support and mentorship of Dr. Sellke and Dr. (Athena) Poppas as we pursued formalizing this exchange of ideas and resources.”

Haines, Sellke and Poppas, the chief of cardiology at Rhode Island and Miriam hospitals, have traveled to China to meet and develop the emerging partnership.

“Wuhan Union Hospital and Tongji Medical College are premiere medical institutions in China,” said Sellke. “They have tremendous patient volume and their researchers will bring a new perspective and new capacity, while their students and fellows will benefit from learning more about our research and clinical practices here at Brown and the Lifespan hospitals. All of this enables greater potential for basic and clinical research, and the benefits are truly reciprocal.”

Christina Spaight O'Reilly

Senior Public Relations Officer
Rhode Island Hospital