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Chinese Delegation Visits NIEHS

By Eddy Ball
December 2008

Event organizer Peterson, center, talked with epidemiologist Chen prior to the meeting. Deputy General Director Wang (Sam) Chenghuan, Hainan Provincial Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, waited in the background. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

As the meeting's chair and facilitator, Schrader made the visitors comfortable, introduced the speakers and kept the event on schedule. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Bucher discussed the organizational structure of NTP and its role in providing regulatory agencies with solid scientific evidence for their regulatory decisions. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Lang's account of DERT partnerships with universities and institutes appealed to the audience of party officials and civil servants. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

When Hu, the first of the scientists on the schedule, began her presentation in Mandarin, the audience began to feel more confident about participating with questions and comments. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

On November 14, a contingent of Chinese government officials involved in a four-month executive education and English-language immersion program at Duke University attended a half-day workshop at NIEHS as part of their series of weekly field experiences. The program was organized by Public Affairs Specialist John Peterson and program chair and Deputy Scientific Director Bill Schrader, Ph.D.

NIEHS Acting Scientific Director Perry Blackshear, M.D., D.Phil., National Toxicology Program (NTP) Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D., and Division of Extramural Research and Training (DERT) Acting Director Dennis Lang, Ph.D., presented overviews of the scientific activities and organizational structure of their respective areas during the first session of the workshop.

The Chinese delegates are involved in a broad range of government functions - science and technology, accounting and financial management, foreign affairs, and policy and legal affairs. Most of their questions during the first session focused on the structure of NIH and NIEHS, the Institute's role policy making, its funding mechanisms and its interactions with other government agencies and interest groups.

The second session of the workshop featured Chinese-born scientists working at NIEHS, who presented talks in their native Mandarin Chinese:

  • Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) International Program Manager and Editor Hui Hu, who discussed the journal's quarterly Chinese language edition, its student edition and science education resources, and its partnership with the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Epidemiology Branch Tenure-track Investigator Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., who reviewed his research into the genetic and environmental causes of Parkinson's disease, as well as his upcoming Shanghai Parkinson's Study, which will investigate environmental, genetic and biomarker risk factors in Chinese women
  • Biostatistics Branch Principal Investigator Leping Li, Ph.D., who uses computer-based analytical models and methods to detect and discover functional elements in the promoter regions of genes involved in transcription
  • Laboratory of Signal Transduction Principal Investigator Xiaoling Li, Ph.D., who studies the interaction of genes and environment in the progress of aging by focusing on the genetic pathways that play regulatory roles in this process

Following the talks and a tour of the investigators' lab facilities, the delegation rejoined Program Assistants Jessica Sapaugh and Derek Delong for the trip back to the Duke Center for International Development ( Exit NIEHS, where they will pursue their intensive studies through mid-December.

By the time Chen took to the podium, the audience was relaxed and ready to appreciate his humor - as well as the seriousness of his research into neurodegenerative diseases. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Leping Li
Leping Li gestured to make a point about his bioinformatics-based estimations of transcriptional responses. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

Xiaoling Li
Xiaoling Li, right, shares a joke with Meng (Max) Shuchu following her presentation, which marked the end of the program. Shuchu, who works in the General Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, was head monitor of the delegation. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)

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