By Kelly Sather
Feb. 25, 2011—The University of Wisconsin-River Falls participated in its first ever science-based research, study and ecotourism abroad program to Taiwan this winter. The Biomedical Educational Abroad program was led by Cheng-chen Huang, assistant professor of biology, who has connections to other professors and research facilities in Taiwan.
Huang accompanied three students on the four-week program to Academia Sinica in Taipei City, Chungshan Medical University and China Medicine University in Taichung City and the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Pintong County.
“This is a very unique study abroad program. It combines research, culture, and ecology into one program. It offers students the research experience they want and also teaches them the process of drug discovery,” says Huang.
Huang’s research uses zebrafish embryos to search for potential drugs for heart failure, which is a disease that affects a large spectrum of people and commonly is associated with cardiovascular diseases, and currently there is no cure, according to Huang.
“The model is simple, quick, and a low cost experiment to run for drug discovery. We would like to expand our search into Chinese medicine and marine species,” says Huang.
Throughout the program, students tested extracts from Chinese herbs and marine species with Huang’s zebrafish model in hopes of identifying drug solutions from natural resources. During their time spent in Taiwan, these students also learned about Chinese medicine and natural product extraction through basic organic chemistry procedures.
UWRF students also had the opportunity to participate in research with both undergraduate and graduate Taiwanese students. Students visited museums, culture parks and experienced living with a host family and in a dormitory during the study tour.
“Our students really enjoyed the experience and found the people they worked with to be very friendly and helpful,” said Huang.
This program is currently looking for a possible future student exchange aspect for this research. This program is targeted towards juniors and seniors in the biology field and plans are currently being made for a return trip this upcoming academic year.
For more information or if interested in participating in this program, contact Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org.