Wake Forest University and the University of Strasbourg Sign LOI in First Step to International Collaborative Agreement

March 15, 2022

The beginning of a “first of its kind” agreement between the University of Strasbourg in France and Wake Forest University took place recently at Wake Downtown in Innovation Quarter.

University of Strasbourg Agreement
The leaders of Wake Forest University and the University of Strasbourg, two academic institutions that share a like approach to teaching, Pro Humanitate, “For Humanity,” signed a Letter of Intent on Friday, March 11 that enables the universities to explore opportunities to engage in education and research collaborations, along with Wake Forest School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

This is the first time that the University of Strasbourg has participated in this type of academic collaboration, with a university in the United States, since it was established more than 400 years ago, in 1621. 

During the visit to Innovation Quarter, University of Strasbourg President Michel Deneken received an overview of iQ, toured Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Bowman Gray Center for Medical Education and saw the latest in simulated surgical training, medical robotics and regenerative medicine research. He said he was impressed with what he saw.

“It is my first trip to the United States and what I have seen here is in contrast to my country. That means very ambitious programs and great, huge buildings. This is very amazing,” Deneken said. “I see that we can have very committed actions because here I found excellence in robotics and simulators, which are very important in my university. I am glad that this great university here will now be a great partner.”

During a meet and greet, which included Susan Wente, Ph.D., president of Wake Forest University, Rogan Kersh, Ph.D., provost of Wake Forest University, Julie Freischlag, M.D., dean of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, CEO of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and chief academic officer of Atrium Health, and Mary Hall, M.D., senior vice president and senior associate dean of education and faculty affairs at Atrium Health, the leaders shared information and asked questions about each other’s institutions, their governance, students and about the potential for this endeavor.

“This is a great opportunity for what I would call radical collaboration,” Wente said. “Between our two universities and multiple institutions we can focus together on the future, on the future of education, research, health care and how to provide the very best to all of our societies not just in Winston-Salem and Charlotte but, through the collaboration, across the world.”

Freischlag was intrigued by the possibilities that may lie ahead.

“It was really exciting to have our visitors here from the University of Strasbourg in France,” Freischlag said. “It’s great to see the partnership that we could do not only in undergraduate education, but in scientific discovery, working with the medical school and the Innovation District. I can see that it is really going to help us accelerate that research corridor from Winston-Salem to Charlotte.”

The catalyst for the visit and meeting was the new relationship between Atrium Health and IRCAD which is based in France. IRCAD is a training facility for minimally invasive surgery that trains more than 7,200 surgeons from around the world each year, across the full range of specialties.  The president of IRCAD also has a relationship with the University of Strasbourg and the connection with Wake Forest University was made. 

The next step is for the two universities and the School of Medicine to begin talks about what an agreement would include. That will be decided over the course of the next several months and would result in the signing of an International Collaborative Agreement, or ICA.

Media contact:  Joe McCloskey, jmcclosk@wakehealth.edu