For information: Kate Martin, public relations coordinator at Northwestern, at (952) 888-4777, ext. 172, or This press release is also available in an electronic format.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Northwestern Health Sciences University is creating an exchange program with Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TUTCM) in Tianjin, China. The program is expected to get underway in spring 2009.

As of right now the specific plans are still in the works, but a commitment has been made between the two universities to collaborate educationally. According to Mark McKenzie, MOm, LAc, dean of the Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Northwestern is working with an exceptional school in China. “Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine has one of the largest Traditional Chinese Medicine hospitals in the world. We hope to have Northwestern students observe there this spring,” he says.

The initial connection with TUTCM began because Northwestern has three faculty members who graduated from the school, including: Wei Liu, LAc, BMed, professor; Huan Ma, MMed, PhD, associate professor; and Tao Gong, LAc, MS, associate professor. Dr. Ma has played a very instrumental role in establishing and coordinating this program. His mentor and former PhD advisor, Dr. Zhang Boli, is the current president of TUTCM.

“Tianjin is a world-famous traditional Chinese medicine university,” says Dr. Ma. “This can open huge opportunities for our students, and because of this, we wanted to create ties with Tianjin University.”

Having the opportunity to send students to Tianjin University will strengthen the skills that Northwestern students graduate with and give them an incredible insight into the country that originated Traditional Chinese Medicine. Charles Sawyer, DC, senior vice president and provost, thinks this is an important opportunity. “Like the students who study architecture should go to Rome, our students studying Traditional Chinese Medicine should go to China,” he says.

For those students who are unable to make it all the way to China, Northwestern also hopes to offer distance learning courses with Tianjin University. As for right now, video conferencing capabilities are in mind; future plans may include Tianjin purchasing a presentation capture system similar to Mediasite, which is used at Northwestern. 

“In addition to the exchange program, TUTCM has also expressed significant interest in the chiropractic profession,” states McKenzie. As of today China does not have any chiropractic schools despite having chiropractic practitioners. According to Dr. Sawyer, “They would like to learn more about the chiropractic profession and educational program through this collaboration.”

According to McKenzie, “Student exchange plans with Tianjin University for 2009 should be finalized this November.” Three Northwestern administrators, including Dr. Sawyer, McKenzie, and Michael Wiles, DC, dean of the College of Chiropractic, are attending a conference held at Tianjin University in November. The Northwestern representatives will give presentations revolving around chiropractic and acupuncture, and speak with Dr. Boli to finalize the exchange plans. “The more I learn about Tianjin University, the more enamored I become with the similarities between our schools,” says Dr. Sawyer. “It will be important to have this relationship. The collaboration will help us grow and strengthen our already strong program.”

Northwestern Health Sciences University offers a wide array of choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and human biology. The University has nearly 900 students on a 25-acre campus in Bloomington, Minnesota.