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China Connection Featured Initiatives


The UMass Department of Psychiatry and Sichuan University’s West China Hospital, the largest general hospital in China, have been collaborating on tobacco addiction and cessation research. The partnership is comprised of core researchers Drs. Douglas Ziedonis and Xiaoduo Fan of UMass Chan and Dr. Tao Li of West China Hospital.

Dr. Douglas Ziedonis (2nd right) and Dr. Xiaoduo Fan (far right) met with Dr. Tao Li (2nd left), Director of the Mental Health Center, West China Hospital, and Dr. Yi Huang (far left), Deputy Director of the Mental Health Center, West China Hospital in Dr. Tao Li’s office on October 22, 2012


Led by Dr. Ziedonis, the Addressing Tobacco through Organizational Change (ATTOC) intervention is designed to reduce health risks associated with smoking and improve the health of the treatment population. The initiative evaluates organizational changes in nicotine policies, including staff-level changes in tobacco addiction treatment, knowledge, attitudes, and practices, and client-level changes in tobacco smoke exposure.

Ziedonis, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Psychiatry, received one of the first two UMass Global Health Pilot Awards during 2010 for his ATTOC China grant, which helps the West China Hospital work on becoming one of the first smoke-free hospitals in China.

The project leaders have translated core materials into Mandarin, developed a Web site in English 
and Mandarin, and conducted a 17-day visit in China to provide onsite intervention. As the information gathering process nears a February 2013 completion date, data collection is being done in China with staff and patients on baseline and follow-up measures, and the group is collaborating on manuscripts.

Nanyin Zhang, PhD, at the Department of Psychiatry’s Center for Comparative NeuroImaging (CCNI) has established a research collaboration with Dr. Li, whose research interest focuses on schizophrenia. In Zhang’s lab, they have scanned approximately 500 human subjects including un-medicated patients with schizophrenia, subjects with 6-12 month post-medication follow-up, first-level relatives of schizophrenia patients, and the matched controls.

Related publications:

  • Ziedonis, D., Wang, X., Li, T., Kim, S. S., Tonelli, M., Li, S., & Kalman, D. (2012). Addressing tobacco through organizational change in West China Hospital’s Mental Health Center: The intervention and lessons learned in an implementation study. Journal of Dual Diagnosis, 8(2), 148-157. doi:10.1080/15504263.2012.672116
  • Kim, S. S., Chen, W., Kolodziej, M., Wang, X., Wang, V. J., & Ziedonis, D. (2012). A systematic review of smoking cessation intervention studies in China. Nicotine Tob Res, 14(8), 891-899. doi: 10.1093/ntr/ntr289
  • Kim, S. S., Ziedonis, D., & Chen, K. (2007). Tobacco use and dependence in Asian American adolescents: Prevention and treatment implications. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 6(3), 113-142.
  • Kim, S. S., Ziedonis, D., & Chen, K. (2007). Tobacco use and dependence in Asian Americans: A review of the literature. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 9(2), 169-184.


A new academic collaboration between the Shanghai Mental Health Center (SMHC) in China and the UMass Department of Psychiatry joins two of the leading forces in global mental health and marks the official beginning of a tremendously important relationship between east and west. 

SMHC Visit
Dr. Douglas Ziedonis (1st row, 2nd left) and Dr. Xiaoduo Fan (1st row, far right) met with Dr. Yifeng Xu (1st row, 2nd right), President of SMHC, Dr. Min Zhao (1st row, far left), Vice President of SMHC, Dr. Chunbo Li (2nd row, 2nd right), Vice President of SMHC, and other Division Chiefs of SMHC – Dr. Jijun Wang (2nd row, far right), Dr. Dengtang Liu (2nd row, far left), and Dr. Jianhua Sheng (2nd row, 2nd left) in Shanghai on October 24, 2012.

Signed in January 2013, the agreement has enormous potential for advancing the science and clinical care of mental disorders, according to the UMass Chan Medical School team whose visits to and negotiations in China helped to make it possible – Psychiatry Department Chairman Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, and Xiaoduo Fan, MD, MPH, associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Psychotic Disorders Clinical & Research Program.


Principal goals of the new memorandum of understanding with Shanghai Mental Health Center and UMass Psychiatry include the academic and clinical interchange of faculty, postdoctoral fellows, residents and students, between the two institutions. The agreement also covers joint biomedical and psychosocial research, and medical education.

The new partnership also provides UMass trainees and faculty rich opportunities to develop cultural competency and global perspective on health and disease, and to learn how traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture might be used to treat mental illness.

“Our academic and research peers in China have a lot to show and teach us,” said Fan, “and we look forward to learning from them.”

Min Zhao, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and vice president, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, is a key partner in the new agreement.

Other China partners are: Drs. Chunbo Li and Jijun Wang. Drs. Ziedonis and Fan have met with Dr. Min Zhao and SMHC President Yifeng Xu. Drs. Ziedonis and Fan toured SMHC on Oct. 24, 2012.

The two sides are already collaborating on various research projects in the area of schizophrenia and its medical comorbidy. Below is a list of recent joint publications.

  • Fan X, Liu E, Freudenreich O, Park JH, Liu D, Wang J, Yi Z, Goff DC, Henderson DC. Higher white blood cell counts are associated with an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and more severe psychopathology in non-diabetic patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 2010; 118, 211-217.
  • Liu D, Fan X, Wang Y, Yang Z, Zhuo K, Song Z, Wu Y, Li C, Wang J, Xu Y. Deficient inhibition of return in chronic but not first-episode patients with schizophrenia. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 2010; 34, 961-967.
  • Wang J, Liu E, Freudenreich O, Goff DC, Henderson DC, Fan X. Phenotypic characteristics in metabolically obese but normal weight non-diabetic patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 2010; 124, 49-53.
  • Yi Z, Fan X, Wang J, Liu D, Freudenreich O, Goff DC, Henderson DC. Rosiglitazone and cognitive function in clozapine treated patients with schizophrenia: a pilot study. Psychiatry Research, 2012; 200, 79-82.
  • Wang J, Fan X, Liu D, Yi Z, Freudenreich O, Goff DC, Henderson DC. Physical activity, food intake and metabolic abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 2012; 140, 260-261.
  • Zhuo K, Lu Y, Yang Z, Fan X, Song Z, Liao L, Ji C, Zhu D, Yu S, Yan C, Chan RCK, Goff DC, Xu Y, Liu D. Prospective memory performance in patients with drug-naïve, first-episode psychosis. Schizophrenia Research, in press.
  • Sheng J, Li C, Wang J, Li J, Song X, Fan X. Phenotypic characteristics in metabolically healthy but obese patients with schizophrenia. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, submitted.