Mike Martin has been instrumental in strengthening the ties between the two universities. The specialist in geriatric psychology has been working together with Richard Siow from King’s College for several years in the context of the University Research Priority Program (URPP) Dynamics of Healthy Aging.
The UK geneticist and physiologist is the director of Aging Research at King’s (ARK), which resembles the URPP in its multidisciplinary approach and broad network. Like their Zurich peers, the UK researchers are investigating the mechanisms of aging, improving health-span and the social impact of aging with the aim of ensuring best possible quality of life in old age. “We know each other from various conferences and have been swapping ideas on our projects regularly for quite some time now,” Mike Martin says.
The new memorandum of understanding (MoU) aims to solidify and provide an institutional context for this hitherto informal collaboration. In terms of research, the two universities plan to establish joint projects, for example on the use of digital teaching tools or communication with older people. It is a topic that is very important to Mike Martin and which is already being explored at UZH’s Senior Citizens’ University, over which Martin presides.
Technological advances providing intelligent tools for everyday life are opening up a wide field, which Martin would like to explore together with his peers from across the Channel. Besides cooperation in research, the MoU aims to increase personal contacts between researchers from the two universities. It therefore also covers semesters abroad for researchers as well as mobility stays for students and junior researchers.
Potential for the future
The MoU was drawn up on UZH’s side in cooperation with the International Relations Office. It provides a framework for future cooperation between the two universities and reinforces their mutual interest in extending cooperation. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, it has not been possible to celebrate the signing of the MoU at a joint event; instead, the document has been signed independently by the relevant representatives of each university. President Michael Schaepman is looking forward to working together with King’s College, a cooperation which he sees as promising: “King’s College and the University of Zurich share many of the same interests and can benefit greatly from each other going forward.” Collaboration in the field of gerontology is a first step – a step that is expected to be repeated for other fields in the years to come.
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