The University of Haifa and East China Normal University (ECNU), the largest university in Shanghai, will establish a joint laboratory building on the ECNU campus for the joint Shanghai-Haifa Research Center. This is the first cooperative venture of its kind between the Israeli and Chinese academic worlds.
The agreement to establish the agreement was signed on April 5 at the University of Haifa, and it will include laboratories in four research fields: ecology, big data, biomedicine, and neurobiology. The building will be funded entirely by the Chinese: the initial sum of three million dollars has been provided by the Chinese government and the promoter who will construct the building.
“The establishment of the joint building is a massive step forward in the academic cooperation, and evidence of the great importance ECNU attaches to cooperation with the University of Haifa. We are joining a very exclusive list of leading world universities, such as Cornell and NYU, that have reached this level of cooperation with ECNU,” remarked Haifa University President Amos Shapira.
The agreement to establish the Shanghai-Haifa Research Center, which was signed 10 months ago, is therefore moving up a grade – from a room in the Global Education Park at ECNU’s prestigious international campus to a new laboratory building. The new center will serve as a joint base for researchers, as well as for training doctorate students from both ECNU and the University of Haifa.
As noted, the Shanghai-Haifa Research Center is the first institution in which Israeli and Chinese researchers are working together. This allows the researchers from the University of Haifa to compete, together with their Chinese colleagues, for research grants from Chinese research foundations. It is estimated that the Chinese government invested some 40 billion dollars in academic research funds in 2013 alone.
ECNU is the largest university in Shanghai province, and is known for its prestigious international ties. NYU has developed an academic branch there (NYU Shanghai), and ECNU has already established similar research centers to the one just opened with the University of Haifa with Cornell, the University of California, the University of Manchester, the University of London (King’s College), the Paris-based Ecole normale supérieure, the University of Tokyo, and other institutions.
The formal signing ceremony was attended by University of Haifa Rector Prof. David Faraggi and Vice-President and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy. University of Haifa President Amos Shapira was in Sao Paolo at the time of the ceremony, where he signed a further cooperation agreement with the Brazilian university ESPM, but sent his greetings. Guests from the Chinese side include ECNU President Chen Qun, the head of the School of Life Sciences, Prof. Liu Mingyao, and the head of the Brain Functional Genomics, among others.
“The research cooperation agreement with ECNU is a sign of the academic strength of the University of Haifa, and this laboratory building will significantly upgrade our joint research. We began our relationship with visits by delegations, we began our agreement with a small office, and the fact that the Chinese government has now seen fit to provide initial funding for the establishment of the joint building shows that the sky’s the limit for this cooperation,” said Prof. Faraggi.
Prof. Qun, president of ECNU, added that he sees the cooperation with the University of Haifa as one of ECNU’s most important international cooperation projects: “We always say that we Chinese are the hardest-working people in the world. Here at the University of Haifa, I have been happy to find people who work as hard as we do,” he commented.