Taiwan's NCKU holds online summit for world education and medical advancement

S. Taiwan university hosts online conference discussing post-pandemic education and drug R&D, over 150 professionals attend

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(Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) on Tuesday (April 21) held a 12-hour-long online meeting attended by over 150 university presidents, scholars, experts, and medical professionals from over 10 countries, to discuss the impact of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) on higher education and how people can minimize impacts from a future plague with new drug R&D processes.

The various stay-at-home orders implemented around the world have resulted in tens of millions of people working from home and using video-conferencing tools to communicate and exchange ideas, fostering a new higher education landscape. As the coronavirus pandemic is still wreaking havoc around the world, NCKU scrambled to host an online international summit of academics and professionals to brainstorm a new solution in fighting a pandemic as well as advancing remote learning.

NCKU President Dr. Huey-Jen Su (蘇慧貞) stated in her opening remarks that in the war against COVID-19, world leaders have incorporated various disciplines including data science, technology, medicine, and management. Of these forward-thinking leaders, Taiwan's president stands out the most with her effective resource integration from various ministries and sectors, Su explained.

"NCKU has been committed to its social responsibility and today we are inviting our global partners to discuss over key world issues in hopes of collecting good ideas and developing new solutions," she said.


NCKU President Dr. Huey-Jen Su. (Taiwan News photo)

Dr. Chih-Hung Jason Wang, a professor from Stanford University who published an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that attracted international attention to Taiwan’s performance in fighting COVID-19, was invited to deliver a speech at the NCKU online forum. He praised Taiwan's quick and effective measures implemented right after the January outbreak, including border control, cross-department integration, and the application of big data.

Wang added that with its experiences combating and containing SARS in 2003, Taiwan could quickly mobilize resources across public and private sectors to fight the coronavirus in a joint effort. He compared an effective pandemic prevention plan to performing a harmonious symphony, saying that under the direction of the conductor, orchestra members play their respective parts on time and in unison, achieving perfection.

In a sub-forum of the event featuring higher education, participants observed a pandemic-induced shift from the classroom to online instruction as lockdowns remained in place for several months. They agreed that the rise of long-distance learning also points to a new trend that can reach more people across borders and from various socioeconomic groups.

In another sub-forum featuring medicine, participants discussed what global universities, research institutes, and government agencies could do together to develop rapid tests and accelerate research and development of vaccines and medicine, closing the gap between the laboratory and product commercialization.

Participants of the event included presidents and professors from the University of Tsukuba, Japan; the University of Malaya, Malaysia; Mahidol University, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University, Vietnam; the SRM Institute of Science and Technology, India; Masaryk University, Czech Republic; and the University of Cincinnati, United States; as well as professionals from medical institutes, multiple industries, governments, and academic institutions in Canada, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Thailand, and Laos.