Sherer wins Chime Bell Award from Chinese province

October 13, 2011

Dr. Sherer accepts Chime Bell Award

Renslow Sherer, MD, Professor of Medicine in the Section of Infectious Diseases and Global Health at the University of Chicago Medical Center and a visiting professor at China's Wuhan University, has received one of ten Chime Bell Awards granted this year by Hubei province in China.

Sherer was the only American this year to win a Chime Bell, which honors foreign experts who have made major contributions to the economic and social development of Hubei, a province with more than 80 million people.

Sherer worked with colleagues from the universities of Chicago and Wuhan for five years on the rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy for AIDS patients, and then for three years on the Hubei Medical Education Reform Project, an effort to modernize medical training.

"Many of the curriculum changes that were part of the Pritzker Initiative, a revamping of medical training at the University of Chicago, were crucial in transforming medical education at Wuhan," Sherer said.

At Wuhan, this meant earlier exposure to clinical medicine and greater individual and small-group learning with faculty mentorship. This replaced the emphasis on large lectures and passive memorization that dominated medical education in China.

"The Wuhan University Medical School is implementing 50 years' worth of changes within about three years," Sherer said. "They are now doing a spectacular job."

Sherer and several University colleagues were already well known in Hubei for their efforts to help local officials prevent the spread of HIV through contaminated blood products and to improve the care of AIDS patients from 2003 to 2008.

"We built solid long-term relationships in those early days," he said. "Our productive partnership and mutual trust in the sensitive area of HIV care led to our involvement in education reform."

As a result of their work, mortality from AIDS in Hubei Province fell from 49 percent to 8 percent during that period.

The Chime Bell Award is a "crowning glory" conferred to foreign experts in Hubei province, according to local news accounts. About 200 experts have won the honor since the award was introduced in 1994.

"It feels great to be recognized," Sherer said. "We are grateful that our work with HIV has had good results, with solid evidence of success. It will take a few years, but we anticipate seeing the impact of changes in medical education that we helped implement."

Sherer has also worked for the World Health Organization, the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, the Clinton Foundation, and Project HOPE on AIDS treatment and prevention programs in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central America. He has visited Hubei more than 30 times, making significant contributions to medical training and education in the province. He is a member of the Faculty Steering Committee for the University of Chicago Center in Beijing, where he organized several recent symposia in infectious diseases and medical education.

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