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Digital Health Conference in China Brings Together Multiple Perspectives

November 06, 2017

Success with global health initiatives often depends on bringing together individuals with different perspectives to deeply understand and effectively address a challenge. That’s the approach a group of faculty from Duke University, Duke Kunshan University (DKU) and Duke-NUS took when they organized a conference focused on partnerships for digital health technology innovation at Duke Kunshan University in Kunshan, China, on October 14.

With funds from the Duke Office of the Provost and Bass Connections, five faculty members from different disciplines across the three universities planned the conference and other related activities, including a research roundtable on October 13 on designing, evaluating and scaling up community-based cardio-metabolic prevention interventions. Access Health International and the City of Kunshan also provided funding for the events.

The goal for the weekend of events was to integrate perspectives from academia, industry and government on the promise of digital health technology and to stimulate new research partnerships, community engagement and student involvement. 

“Both of these aims were met with overwhelming success,” said Janet Prvu Bettger, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) affiliate and conference co-chair (with Lijing Yan, associate research professor of global health at DGHI and DKU). “It was truly remarkable how, in just six months, we could engage faculty, students at all levels and external partners from six countries to plan and implement these events—plus build the foundation for continued collaboration.” 

Keynote presentations were given by:

  • Gary Bennett, Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience and professor of global health and medicine at Duke
  • Xudong Lu, professor of biomedical engineering and instrumentation at Zhejiang University 
  • Li-Qun Xu, chief scientist from the China Mobile Research Institute of China Mobile

Presentations were also delivered by 17 additional academic and industry partners, including several Duke-affiliated speakers:

  • Ryan Shaw, associate professor at the Duke University School of Nursing, who discussed mobile health technologies and precision health
  • Eric Finkelstein, professor of health services and systems research at Duke-NUS and professor of global health at DGHI, who discussed the use of behavioral economics to transform measurement tools into intervention tools
  • Lijing Yan, who discussed collaborating with industry to customize android-based smartphone apps in chronic disease studies
  • Zhao Ni, a PhD student in nursing and global health doctoral certificate candidate, who discussed using mobile technology to prevent cardiovascular disease
  • Shenglan Tang, Mary D.B.T. and James Semans International Professor of Medicine and Global Health, who provided closing remarks

Ten industry leaders gave talks on advancement in digital health and the innovations spearheaded by their companies. 

More than 250 participants—including Kunshan Deputy Mayor Jin and Duke Kunshan University Vice Chancellor Gao—attended the conference. A number of Duke and DKU students from a range of academic disciplines also participated. 

Seven members of the Bass Connections Global Alliance on Disability and Health Innovation (GANDHI) team attended; they conducted key informant interviews and are collaborating on the report from the event. Bass Connections GANDHI’s work focuses on examining disability from multiple perspectives and cultures.

“This was the first digital health conference on the Duke Kunshan campus, and we showcased the research projects in this field from three Duke campuses,” said conference co-chair Yan. “Our academia/industry partnership theme was well received.” 

Learn more about the conference.

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Duke Students at DKU Conference
Eight Duke students representing policy, psychology, neuroscience, biology, engineering, computer science and nursing attended the conference. Zhao Ni (far right), a PhD student in nursing and global health doctoral certificate candidate, presented on mobile technology to prevent cardiovascular disease.

It was truly remarkable how, in just six months, we could engage faculty, students at all levels and external partners from six countries to plan and implement these events—plus build the foundation for continued collaboration.

Janet Prvu Bettger, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and DGHI affiliate

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