How age impacts the human brain and overall health are global issues that researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Beijing Normal University are tackling head on, together. Representatives from both institutions met Monday, October 29 to sign a memorandum of understanding that lays the groundwork for what they hope will become the BNU-UCI Joint Center for Brain Aging and Health.

“Aging and brain health is a medical, social, economic, and strategic issue for both the US and China. As we seek areas of common concern where we can have an impact and demonstrate the power of collaboration, this is a natural area for partnership,” said Bill Maurer, UCI social sciences dean, adding that social sciences has existing collaborations in economics and cognitive science with BNU. A conference organized by Chancellor's Professor Chuansheng Chen in social ecology last June leveraged existing scholarly connections and built new ones in brain science. Fortuitously, Maurer was already in Beijing for the Global Chinese Philanthropy Initiative. He and social ecology dean Nancy Guerra met representatives from BNU while faculty from the UCI schools of social sciences, social ecology, and UCI’s Facility for Imaging and Brain Research participated in a joint symposium on learning, memory and development.

The conversation continued well past the June conference and resulted in an agreement, signed on the 29th, that both institutions are excited to push forward as they work to build a joint institute that will strengthen cooperation and facilitate academic exchanges including regular faculty visits and conferences, as well as student exchanges. The collaborating researchers will be seeking funding for work that they can publish jointly, and will develop a graduate course on cognitive aging and intervention.

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