2018-11-22 11:26:58

JIANGSU, East China — One of the world’s most prestigious universities has opened its first research institute in China. The grand opening of the Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, or OSCAR, was held Thursday in Suzhou Industrial Park.

Conceived by Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division in October 2017, OSCAR will initially accommodate 12 research projects and expressly focus on the fields of physical sciences and engineering.

“This collaboration in China offers exciting opportunities to advance our research and enhance its impact on society both at home and abroad,” Louise Richardson, the university’s vice chancellor who attended Thursday’s opening ceremony, said in a press release sent to Sixth Tone.

Since last year, 12 Oxford professors have been selected to lead research programs at OSCAR in subjects such as health informatics, tissue engineering, and environmental remediation. The programs will open positions to scientists from all over the world, including six researchers of Chinese descent who are already onboard. OSCAR hopes to recruit a total of 36 scientists by 2019 — three for each of its 12 projects.

Liu Weizhi, a Chinese researcher who specializes in regenerative medicine at OSCAR, told Sixth Tone on Thursday that the programs will make practical contributions to essential fields. “For example, an engineering science project led by David Clifton, an associate professor at Oxford, aims to develop ‘smart’ health care technologies that can be used to monitor patients’ vital signs and accurately relay early warning signs,” he said.

OSCAR is housed in a nine-story building occupying 20,000 square meters. Though foreign universities hoping to establish campuses in China are required to partner with local schools and to run them as joint ventures, OSCAR is a research institution rather than a school. It thus operates independently as a nongovernmental organization and is fully owned by Oxford.

“We hope that by physically locating research near to the industry base which can make best use of its outputs that we will be able to deliver innovative technologies across a range of applications … leading to real-world benefit,” Martin Edmunds, strategic research manager of Oxford’s Mathematical, Physical, and Life Sciences Division, said in the press release. He affirmed that the research conducted at OSCAR would be complementary to rather than distinct from research conducted at Oxford University.

Editors: Wang Yiwei and David Paulk.

(Header image: A promotional photo of the Oxford Suzhou Center for Advanced Research in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. From OSCAR’s official website)