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Agreement will bring Mexican doctoral students to U of I
Research partnership on diabetes, obesity also approved

November 23, 2016 

CHICAGO – The University of Illinois System signed an agreement that will bring doctoral students funded by Mexico to U of I System universities, and approved a partnership for diabetes and obesity research during a visit to Mexico last week by President Tim Killeen and a delegation of senior leaders.

Agreements also were signed that will provide a foundation for new academic and research partnerships with Mexico’s largest university and the country’s leading research institute.

The four-day trip, from Nov. 14-17, was arranged to explore new educational and research collaborations in Mexico, and included meetings with government agencies and two of the nation’s top universities.

Killeen said the outreach effort is rooted in a new strategic framework adopted earlier this year, a roadmap to the future that seeks to build on the U of I System’s service to students and the public good, and its global impact.

“We are committed to new partnerships at home and around the world that support our students and our excellence – promoting opportunity, diversity, and educational and research programs with global impact,” Killeen said.

During the trip, the U of I System signed an agreement with the Mexican Science and Technology Council that will provide funding to 10 Mexican students every year to pursue doctoral studies at any of the System’s three universities in Chicago, Springfield and Urbana-Champaign.

Under the program, the council will invest about $7.5 million in students studying at the U of I during the five-year agreement, which is renewable. This amount includes payments toward students’ tuition, health insurance and living costs.

U of I officials also signed a letter of intent with the Department of Health in Mexico City for joint research into the causes of diabetes and obesity, two major health problems that the department has identified among the population it serves.

The research collaboration will explore social and cultural factors that might contribute to diabetes and obesity by examining two sample populations of 200 each, one in Mexico City and one in Chicago. The project is scheduled to be launched during the first quarter of 2017.

The partnership will bring together researchers from Mexico City’s Department of Health and the University of Illinois at Chicago, which is home to the nation’s largest medical school and renowned faculty experts in diabetes and obesity research.

During the visit, the U of I System also signed agreements that are a first step toward new partnerships with Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Institute of Public Health (known as INSP).

The U of I System has worked informally with both UNAM and the institute, and Killeen said the formal agreement signals the intent to develop new initiatives, such as student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations.

UNAM is the largest university in Latin America with 325,000 students and the premier university in the Spanish-speaking world based on global rankings. The university excels in many areas of research, with a focus on multidisciplinary problems relevant to Mexico and the developing world. Past collaborations between UNAM and the U of I System include faculty training programs and international forums focusing on agriculture, food, nutrition and healthcare.

INSP is one of the largest public health institutes in the developing world, and a leader in teaching and research to improve public health in Mexico and Latin America. The institute's past collaborations with the U of I System include student exchanges and maternal and child health research with UIC’s School of Public Health.

During their visit, the U of I delegation also met with students and officials from Tecnologico de Monterrey, one of Latin America’s leading private universities. Opportunities were discussed for faculty visits and summer study programs for students along with possible research collaborations in engineering, medicine and business, such as big data analytics and supply chain logistics.

The delegation also met with Mario Molina, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Molina is a climate policy advisor to Mexico’s president and founder of the Molina Center for Energy and the Environment, which explores solutions to challenges related to environmental protection, the use of energy and prevention of climate change, and sustainable development.

Killeen was joined on the trip by Trustees Ramon Cepeda and Ricardo Estrada, UIC Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Robert Barish, Urbana College of Engineering Dean Andreas Cangellaris, Urbana College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences food science professor Elvira de Mejia, Urbana College of Business Associate Dean for Advancement Mauricio Gonzalez, and interim Director of International Engagement Pradeep Khanna.


The University of Illinois System is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 81,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I System awards more than 20,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.


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