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Penn President Amy Gutmann and Chinese Academy of Sciences Vice President Li Jiayang shake hands in Beijing on Thursday.

Three days after signing a memorandum of understanding with Seoul National University in South Korea, Penn President Amy Gutmann signed another on Thursday with an institution just several hundred miles away — the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The MOU established formal academic ties between Penn and the CAS, China’s national academy for research in the natural sciences.

The two institutions also announced a partnership to develop a joint research center for neuroimaging — the study of the techniques used to create images of the structure and function of the brain — called the Center of Excellence in Brain Mapping.

“We look forward to a dynamic and successful collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s center for excellence in the natural sciences, technology and research and development,” Gutmann said in a statement.

When chemist Bai Chunli was appointed president of the CAS earlier this year, he told the science journal Nature of his desire to build relationships between Chinese scientists and those from around the world.

“[The CAS] will strive to set up long-term, strategic partnerships with first-rate research institutions, international science organizations and multinational research and development corporations,” he said. “The CAS encourages its scientists to participate in international research projects.”

The CAS-Penn Center of Excellence in Brain Mapping will aim to draw from the strengths of both institutions. Penn’s neuroimaging program has a long and celebrated history, which includes many key advancements in the field, and the CAS Institute of Biophysics is a leader in China for research in brain mapping.

“Penn has an outstanding tradition in neuroimaging, and we are pleased to partner with eminent Chinese scientists and clinicians to advance discoveries and clinical applications in brain mapping to promote health and well-being,” Gutmann said.

Gutmann herself has some experience in the field of neuroimaging. As the head of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, she chaired a discussion on current issues on neuroscience and neuroimaging in February.

In 2008, Penn hosted a media seminar on neuroscience and society. “The brain and the mind continue to be a central focus of research at Penn,” Gutmann said in a video message to introduce the event. “New discoveries in brain pharmacology, cognition and imaging are making neuroscience a dynamic and impactful field in modern scientific research.”

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