When the campus opens next Fall, DKU will launch the Global Health Research Center alongside a master of science degree program in the subject next year. Faculty have proposed research centers in other disciplines, though they have not been through the approval process yet. Although administrators said it will take some time for research to really take off at the campus, they still have to figure out where the research funding will come from—the United States or Chinese government. From the Chinese government, funding can come from the nation, provincial or municipal levels, said Nora Bynum, vice provost for DKU and China initiatives.
“It’s kind of a complex arena to try to step into, especially for some of the larger science grants that require larger sums of money,” Bynum said.
Bynum said she is hopeful that grants will come from both American and Chinese sources, and also mentioned that the China Faculty Council’s research subcommittee is currently discussing these issues and identifying other priority areas for research at DKU. She predicts that the programs will initially take a while to get off the ground, so there will not be a list of faculty with active research programs during the first semester.
Keith Dear, director of the master of science in global health at DKU, also noted that DKU will not be as research-oriented in its first year as Duke is now. Even though faculty will be doing research, students will not have the same opportunities, he said. In addition, Dear pointed out because there will not be a doctoral program at the Kunshan campus at the onset, the research will not be as intensive as what is conducted in Durham.
Dear said he is optimistic about the research possibilities that can occur in China and Southeast Asia. The Global Health Research Center will collaborate with the faculty at local Chinese universities, as well as the central and provincial governments of China to retrieve databases for population-based health studies.
“China is presently going through what’s called the demographic transition as it transitions to being a developed country,” Dear said. “Within the scope of China, we can see the full range of development, so we can research this hugely complicated topic from beginning to end in the one country.”
Dr. Shenglan Tang, associate director for DKU and China Initiatives for the Duke Global Health Institute, also said the experience offers a special opportunity for students.
“The difference comes to research environment,” Tang said. “The population surrounding the campuses is different. China has unique populations with different cultures and demographic structures… We can do research [there] you can’t do [at Duke]—air pollution, for example.”
Tang said, unlike the recently opened New York University Shanghai campus—which focuses on undergraduate programs—DKU focus on post-graduate study programs and more focused on research, though it will have undergraduate study abroad programs.
In addressing ongoing concerns about the Chinese government’s limitation on research, both Dear and Tang noted that they have not yet run into any particular obstructions in their respective fields of research. But Dear remarked that like with any other government, research faculty will have to find a way to work within the system by forming relations with researchers already employed in China.