The visit of a delegation from Thailand to the University of Washington in November 2023 marked a significant step in fostering international collaboration in the fields of education, research, and innovation. Hosted by the UW’s Office of Global Affairs (OGA) and Office of Research, the event brought together leaders and representatives from UW and Thai universities and health organizations to explore potential avenues for cooperation. Dr. Gayle Christensen, UW Interim Vice Provost for Global Affairs, and Dr. Sara Curran, UW Associate Vice Provost for Research, delivered a warm welcome address, setting the tone for a day of insightful discussions and presentations.
Dr. Pongrak Sribanditmongkol, President of Chiang Mai University and Chairperson for the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT), introduced the mission of CUPT, providing valuable context for the ensuing discussions. Dr. Pasert Rekkiangrai, Vice President of Chiang Mai University, presented an overview of the prominent education, research, and innovation endeavors undertaken by Thai universities. The exchange of ideas continued with presentations by the UW delegation, covering a diverse range of topics such as wildlife monitoring, global health metrics, sustainable research collaboration, computing for the developing world, and air pollution research in collaboration with Mahidol University.
The day’s agenda also included brainstorming sessions to identify opportunities for collaboration, networking opportunities, an introduction to the UW CoMotion office and facility tours, providing the Thai delegation with a comprehensive overview of the university’s capabilities and resources. The UW campus walking tour further facilitated interaction and cultural exchange between the delegations. Overall, the visit served as a platform for building bridges between the University of Washington and Thai institutions, promoting cross-cultural understanding and fostering collaborative efforts to address global challenges in the realms of health, environment, and technology. For this meeting, the UW School of Dentistry was well represented by Susan Coldwell (Associate Dean for Student Services and Admissions, Washington Dental Service Endowed Professor, Professor of Oral Health Sciences), Donald Chi (Associate Dean for Research, Lloyd and Kay Chapman Endowed Chair for Oral Health), and Ana Lucia Seminario (Associate Professor of Pediatric Dentistry, Adjunct Associate Professor of Global Health, and Director of the Timothy A. DeRouen Center for Global Oral Health).
Since the 1990’s, the UW School of Dentistry has collaborated with Thammasat University and Khon Kaen University to increase capacity in oral health research in Southeast Asia. Since then, we have been awarded two 5-year National Institutes of Health (NIH) D43 grants that built up the basis for Khon Kaen University to become the prime recipient of the 2021 D43 award that supports researchtra ining programs for professionals and students to strengthen global health research and international research collaboration.