UK university heads Chinese pregnancy research project

Updated: 2016-10-26 00:47

By Cecily Liu(

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The University of Leicester is leading a five-year medical research project awarded by the Chinese government to investigate serious complications in pregnancy and to look at treatment of related conditions such as pre-eclampsia and diabetes.

The project will be based in Chongqing Pregnancy Centre, at Chongqing Medical University, in Southwest China. The project is also one of only 15 global projects chosen by China's 111 Programme, which aims at international research partnerships, the university said in an announcement this week.

Philip Baker, Dean of Medicine and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, who leads the collaboration, said the project is good for pregnancy research in China and generally, and good for Chongqing.

"China is a leader in cellular research but less good at clinical research, so what we want to do is make sure this aspect develops," Baker said.

Baker developed the pregnancy center five years ago as part of China's 1,000 foreign experts scheme, which aims to encourage top foreign talent to work in the country. It has since won funding from the Gates Foundation and other sources.

Ten pregnancy experts globally will be partnered with academics in China to carry out work in to all aspects of pregnancy research, from molecular and cellular laboratory studies through to clinical trials.

One area of research, that takes advantage of China's huge population, will be to use the largest cohort of twins to look at the differential effects of the environment versus genes.

Researchers will also study growth restriction, where the fetus does not thrive within the womb, as well as diabetes in pregnancy and other conditions which can have major long-term implications for adult life.

Baker added collaborative research programs can bring many benefits, including increasing the possibility of further funding.

"China is one of the countries on the overseas develop aid list and much of the funding is funneled through that scheme. It is going to open up opportunities for the university as the collaboration strengthens and develops," Baker said.