It's a partnership that Trudeau officials hope could break new scientific ground while also opening up a new funding stream for the institute, as money from some of its more traditional revenue sources has been harder to come by.
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Andrea Cooper has just returned from a trip to China. She says people and potential funders are looking for research that’s more relevant and high impact. She’s been working on TB for 20 years. But much of that work has been in model systems, so it’s not immediately transferable to the human disease, "so in order to have the support of people, and people means money…I need to see whether the things I'm seeing in our model system are relevant to the human system."
One problem with doing such human research in the U.S. is that there aren't many TB patients here anymore. And while there are plenty of countries around the world where tuberculosis continues to be a problem, Cooper said the ideal location also needs to have state-of-the art research facilities.
Last week, Cooper traveled to one of those sites, the Third People's Hospital in Shenzhen, a young and fast-growing city just north of Hong Kong. The hospital treats tuberculosis patients and is also home to a research institute that studies the disease. Cooper says much of the tuberculosis research the Chinese scientists are interested in is similar to what her team has been studying.
"We have questions we’d like to ask them, and then they have questions they’d also like to bring back to our model system. Together, it makes things very exciting. They're excited to be working with us, and we're excited to be working with them."
Moving forward, Cooper plans to send a member of her team to begin working with the Chinese researchers. She said scientists from Shenzhen also want to visit Trudeau to be trained in Cooper's lab, most likely in the spring.