Growing for a Bright Future:

An Interview with President Yun Yen

Taipei Medical University’s President, Dr. Yun Yen shared his vision for the university and his personal reflections over his five-year tenure as president of TMU.

Looking back at my five years with TMU, I am mindful of all the challenges that we have experienced, but equally encouraged by the success we have achieved. I think our biggest accomplishment has been the emergence of our university’s status and recognition as a global research university.

We’ve encouraged entrepreneurism among faculty, staff, and the student body. Historically, scholarly papers were considered the only indicator of a university’s strength and recognition.  Today, leading universities recognize the importance of finding solutions that solve real-world problems through a number of measures, not just publications.

TMU has launched several strategic initiatives to encourage multidisciplinary collaborations in the hopes of producing solutions for health problems affecting our world.

We recently opened several new core facility centers for drug discovery. For these facilities, we aim to foster world-class research in basic science, clinical research, medical devices and biomarker development.

We’re also running projects to improve mentoring. Our SPARK program has several goals: to build entrepreneurial spirit, to explore commercialization opportunities based on research, and to teach our scholars how to deal with finance and patent protection, as well as developing sound business plans.

There are deep roots to our recent shifts in university priorities. We are preparing our staff and students for the future.  We have integrated business and finance courses into our students’ education. Furthermore, we have aligned these programs with industry leaders, so students can gain a broader sense of their future careers.  These changes are geared to help students develop long-term relationships with companies.  As soon they graduate, we want them to be ready to contribute in the workplace.

We’ve also strengthened our relations with leading universities around the world. The dual-degree program in nanotechnology applications for health in affiliation with University of Southern California is a great example. After students complete their five-year program, they receive two diplomas, one from each university. Our dual-degree program with Case Western Reserve University is another example. Investing in international collaborations and marketing our university on the international level has been a common goal across the university, and we have provided resources to support these initiatives, and also biotech-related programs.

New Colleges and Improvements

Certainly, a big enhancement at TMU has been the emergence of several new colleges. I’m particularly impressed by the College of Biomedical Engineering, which grew out of our innovative College of Dental Medicine. This college has been recognized in the top 1 percent of ESI (Essential Science Indicators) rankings in seven categories. Graduates of this new college will find better opportunities to gain development funding for their inventions.

Our College of Management is also helping to produce more capable administrators, and is harnessing “big data” in new ways. We are expanding our course offerings in economics and finance.

And after a strong 37-year track record with the College of Public Health, our new College of Nutrition has achieved a notable reputation for the number of dynamic and market-oriented projects being done there.

Meanwhile, the College of Public Health has expanded new research centers focused on Health Policy and Health Security. Its well-established specialties of injury prevention, trauma studies and occupational health have gained worldwide recognition. And next might be our program in Molecular Epidemiology, which is awaiting accreditation by the Ministry of Education.

Our College of Medicine hasn’t stood stagnant, either – we have diversified our curriculum with greater focus on IT [information technologies]. Our new high-tech campus on Keelung Road has extensive facilities for learning with virtual reality and OSCE [Objective Structured Clinical Examinations].

The College of Nursing shares the same goals and high-tech facilities, but has its own demonstration ward at the new campus. The College of Dentistry houses 130 fully computerized student work stations as well.

The College of Pharmacy, one of TMU’s original programs, now offers a focus on Health Technology Assessment in cooperation with the Global Health and Development program, which is itself an example of our expanded English-language graduate degree programs.

I’m particularly proud of our arts and humanities symposium, which regularly invites experts from diverse fields to present artistic and literary perspectives outside of medicine. I don’t want our students to think that because we teach health professions, “this school is dry!” Each year, we publish a book based on these lectures and we have received positive student feedback. We aim continue this tradition.

Finally, for our faculty, recent changes have focused on keeping our professors happy and engaged. We have decreased their teaching loads to facilitate research, and provided free health checkups and better promotion tracks.  Now patents and clinical trials count as factors for promotion – not just scholarly papers. And I’m very proud that about forty percent of our campus leadership is now female, which was not the case before.

‘’Education is expanding everywhere at TMU!  We have wholeheartedly embraced the challenge to improve our university through smart, innovative solutions. These past years have been tough but personally rewarding. I’m always fascinated to watch my alma mater grow. TMU has a bright future ahead! ‘’

Expanding Infrastructure and Campus

We’ve vastly expanded our space, despite our limited campus size. While our first ground-breaking ceremonies for new building were this fall, we have several physical expansion projects in the works.

The construction of the Taipei Cancer Center is a major focus of TMU. This building is unique in that half will provide clinical facilities for medical doctors, and the other half will hold researchers. This design will ensure fully integrated transitional medical studies. I am truly excited by our plans and designs for this center. I anticipate it will be home to a vibrant scientific community.

We have also spent additional funding to improve our fitness programs and sports facilities. This includes a new women’s rugby program, renovation of our gymnasium and pool areas, and new exercise equipment for our sports teams.  Our new student activity center will give a place for recreation that has been needed for a very long time.  Overall, we are constantly devising plans to construct our projects within our relatively small space.

For interviews or a copy of the paper, contact Office of Global Engagement via