A delegation from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) visited UC San Francisco on Thursday as part of a University of California trip to renew an agreement of collaboration between the two institutions, which will now extend to 2021.
The UC-Mexico Initiative launched in 2014 to foster academic, scientific and cultural partnerships between UNAM and the University of California. UNAM is the largest university in Latin America, with more than 200,000 undergraduate and 28,000 postgraduate students, 14 campuses in Mexico, and four extension schools in the U.S.
UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, and other UC chancellors attended a signing and dinner Thursday at UC Berkeley with UC President Janet Napolitano and UNAM Rector Enrique Graue, who took office last November. Trained as a surgeon and ophthalmologist, Rector Graue was formerly dean of the UNAM Faculty of Medicine and is also president of the National Academy of Medicine of Mexico. He is the first UNAM rector to visit the UC campuses.
Ahead of the signing, delegates from UNAM toured Mission Hall and Genentech Hall at Mission Bay and met with members of UCSF Global Health Sciences. The UNAM delegation included William Lee, vice chancellor of research; Samuel Ponce de León, director of the university-wide program on health; and Francisco Trigo, director of international relations.
In addition to UCSF and UC Berkeley, the delegation also visited Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Binational health research
The UC-Mexico Initiative encompasses five working groups in energy, education, environment, health, and arts and culture. Jaime Sepulveda, M.D., MPH, DrSC, executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, is co-chair of the working group on health.
“All five working groups have now developed master plans thanks to many, many hours of hard work from the faculty at UNAM and all the UC campuses,” said Sepulveda.
The working group on health has prioritized binational research in diabetes, maternal and neonatal health, and violence, as well as training programs in health care management. Projects stemming from the collaboration include a large clinical trial of combination drugs for diabetes prevention in adults with pre-diabetes, and a national survey in Mexico evaluating the health impact of a sugar tax.
The UC-Mexico Initiative was created on the heels of the Binational Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research announced in May 2013 by Presidents Barack Obama and Enrique Peña Neito. Among the goals of that forum was to have 100,000 Mexican students studying in the U.S. and 50,000 U.S. students studying in Mexico by 2018.
“The fact is that Mexico has very few students in the UC system given its population size, level of development and proximity to California,” said Sepulveda. “This visit is an opportunity to promote UC as a top destination for bright Mexican students.”