Your blogger from #China is back! The Marine Silk Road is steeped in wealth, wonder and ideas.

I learned today that Guangzhou is in fact an ancient seat of knowledge exchange, being China’s window to the world as its prime port city.  For a significant portion of China’s history it held the monopoly upon foreign trade.  Exchanging goods and culture with the Swedish, Dutch, Persians and the East India Company. 
It was during the Ming Dynasty that it opened up to Western medicine and science. Dr Peter Parker chose to open China’s first western hospital in this city (1835).  He was an opthamologist. For a scientific exchange this place has a precedent!
More adventures upon the Marine Silk Road to come. 
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Guangzhou and workarounds

The biggest difficulty while working in China has been internet access. Once you are dependent upon a high speed connection for every day communication, data storage, analysis, it’s a shock to be cut off from your usual tools.   I’ve had trouble with blogging using WordPress and am now trying this workaround. Perhaps if I was on vacation it wouldn’t be an issue, but trying to accomplish academic work requires an adjustment. 
There are vast districts here that are studded with architectectural beauty but are sparsely populated. Then there are more traditional neighborhoods where the majority seem to live. It really is the tale of 2 cities in one. 
Hoping this message gets through to you! If so I’ll keep updating my scientific progress. 






Science and culture in Guangzhou #nanobubble technology is popping


Science

Day 1 at the Sun Yat Sen university went well. We discussed the lab’s expertise in nanobubble formation for drug delivery and I expressed the need for this work in atherosclerosis treatment and vulnerable plaque. We seem to be on track to putting together a proposal- a few more ideas to crystallize.   

The campus itself is open air, affording breath taking views from my office.  

Culture

I had a great time meeting biomedical engineering students and discussing their projects- so friendly and enthusiastic. Tan is the silent strong type- who powers through problems, Gavin is the talkative enthusiastic smart guy, and Yung is the confident young women who commands respect from her classmates because of how bright she is. I mentioned how I feel a bit cut-off as I can’t acess Google, gmail, and Twitter in China and they laughed off my predicament.  It doesn’t seem to bother most people as they have many other SM options.

Students here are proud of their work, their center and their dreams of travel and accomplishment. It’s nice to be able to share the work of my grad students.  Today Gavin is going to show me how to use the metro- it’s jam packed during commuting hours so here’s hoping I won’t be too crushed.   Today I give another presentation of our lab- and I’m going to focus a bit on Queen’s as well. 

During the early collaborative stage of research, the ultimate goal is unknowable #serendipity is #creativity 


Science:

Yesterday I met my host Dr Zhou- and he was as gracious as I had hoped- prompt, friendly and relaxed. On the taxi over to my hotel we had a good talk about where we could help each other on this scientific exchange. What I find interesting is his tissue phantom work using optical coherence tomography (OCT) to characterize the vessel wall. He has not done work in vulnerable plaque in vessels- which is my interest. Could this be the intersection of interests that could lead to a collaboration?  Who knows- what’s fun is that research is an organic process- it can’t be forced and we just have to see how things develop. 

Culture:

There is definitely a sense of energy, urgency in China as it strives to develop rapidly. I think that’s the reason, in part, for the country’s enthusiasm for outreach and exchange programs at this time.  It’s wonderful to be a tiny part in this change, and take advantage of working with experts that want to be active collaborators. Even with this program I can certainly feel the oversight of the state, instructing where to stay, what my agenda should look like etc. I can understand the need for a highly structured and regulated approach even though sometimes the best ideas come from serendipity combined with wonder (just having fun). I realize this approach is very different than our system, but it’s also an opportunity to appreciate a very different culture. 

My first day in the lab is today- wish me luck! 

1st Ontario China young scientist exchange program 


The program Began this week in Beijing. I and 4 other Ontario scientists were selected to participate- I missed the first week due to clinical duties but will travel to China for the last 2 weeks. 

Hmmm… I feel a bit older than the above crowd but as a clinician scientist I’ve had to be in school much longer prior to starting my scientific career. 18 years of training post secondary!  The life of a clinician scientist- challenges and rewards.  Follow this blog as I share my journey to China and knowledge.