Chinese, Carolina doctors to examine health-care challenges

January 17, 2008

Cardiac care, smoking, HIV/AIDS and health-care policies in the United States and China will be among topics of a free public forum Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Experts at Peking University and other institutions in China and their UNC research colleagues will present their progress and ideas in “Health Crises and Disparities: Working Together on Solutions,” a forum in UNC’s FedEx Global Education Center (Jan. 30) and the George Watts Hill Alumni Center’s Carolina Club (Jan. 31, Feb. 1).

For details and a schedule, go to For campus maps and parking information, visit

Because China is home to about one-fifth of the world’s population, partnering with Chinese researchers gives Carolina access to more – and more varieties of – cases of illness from which to learn, said Myron Cohen, MD, J. Herbert Bate Distinguished Professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, and of public health, at UNC and director of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, the forum’s sponsor.

“Diseases don’t respect borders,” said Cohen, also the associate vice chancellor for global health in the UNC School of Medicine. “We are working together to come up with solutions that will help both countries.”

Besides helping patients, he said, new drugs and products potentially discovered by Chinese research partners could boost North Carolina’s economy. That’s because the state’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies could help develop the treatments and market them not only in the United States – population 300 million – but also in China – population 1.3 billion. China is one of North Carolina’s biggest trade partners, said Tom Martineau, China projects manager for the UNC Office of International Affairs and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases.

Forum cosponsors are the research institute RTI International, the pharmaceutical firm Quintiles Transnational, Family Health International, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina, Research Triangle Regional Partnership, and the UNC Center for AIDS Research.

Speakers and panelists will include representatives of RTI, Quintiles, Peking University Hospital, the World Heart Federation, WakeMed Health & Hospitals of Raleigh, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and China’s National Center for Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Leprosy Control.

Peking University Vice President Hai Wen and UNC Chancellor James Moeser will chair the forum, a follow-up to the inaugural event in December 2006 when the chancellor led a delegation’s visit to Beijing.

Uwe Reinhardt, an economics and public affairs professor at Princeton University, will deliver the keynote address. He specializes in access to health care, controlling its costs and whether spending on health care impairs the competitiveness of American businesses. N.C. State Health Director Leah M. Devlin, DDS, MPH, will attend the session.

William L. Roper, MD, dean of the UNC School of Medicine and chief executive officer of UNC Health Care, and Gordon Liu, chair of Peking University’s health economics and management department and a former faculty member in UNC’s School of Pharmacy, will close the forum on Feb. 1. They will discuss health policy reform in the United States and China. Liu, a key figure in the reform efforts in China, is principal investigator on the largest study of urban health insurance ever conducted in China.

As China’s economy grows, instances of pollution, obesity, smoking and heart disease have increased, research and news reports show. Developing countries account for 80 percent of the world’s cardiovascular and other chronic diseases, and China is the world’s most populous developing country, according to the World Heart Federation. Heart disease has risen in tandem with the country’s breakneck modernization, bringing with it risk factors common to richer countries: less physical activity, unhealthy diets and smoking, UNC forum organizers said.

The forum at UNC will feature a comparison of cardiovascular care in the United States and China by research partners Zhao Dong, MD, deputy director of the Beijing Institute of Heart, Lung and Blood Vessel Diseases at Beijing Anzhen Hospital, and Sid Smith, MD, director of the UNC Center for Cardiovascular Science and Medicine and former president of the American Heart Association.

Adam Goldstein, MD, a UNC professor of family medicine and director of the UNC Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program, will moderate a panel discussion on tobacco use in China and the United States. Panelists will be Blake Brown, professor of agricultural and resource economics at N.C. State University; Matthew Farrelly, PhD, director of RTI International’s public health economics and policy research program; Valeria L. Lee, president of the Golden Leaf Foundation; and Vandana Shah, executive director of the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

In China, an estimated 350 million people smoke, according to the World Health Organization. That’s more than the total U.S. population, where an estimated 25.9 million men (23.9 percent) and 20.7 million women (18.1 percent) smoke, according to the American Heart Association.

The paradox of health worries accompanying smoking in China is that the country offers a market for North Carolina farmers who in large part have lost their former U.S. customers. Jan 31 speakers will include Teh-Wei Hu, professor emeritus of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, who edited the recent book “Tobacco Control Policy Analysis in China: Economics and Health.”

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For more information, visit these websites:

UNC news releases:

Global health forum contact: Tom Martineau, (919) 843-4520,

News Services contact: LJ Toler, (919) 962-8589

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or