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Iowa/South Australia Transnational Academic Alliance - Report 2001


This document outlines the further development of a unique academic, pro-active, value-adding, co-operative Transnational Alliance. This Alliance represents an opportunity to strengthen the academic and associated clinical programs in Adelaide and Iowa City. Initially this has been applied to the Health Sciences area. This program is now also involving other academic areas, such as business, engineering, agriculture, etc. To be successful the Alliance has been correctly balanced from the beginning, being strongly supported by both parties, and being nurtured by an appropriate Transnational Co-ordinator.

The Transnational Alliance has been jointly developed from both Iowa City and Adelaide, with active groups at both sites, and regular communication between sites, either through visits, or through e-mail, telephone or video-conferencing. The following Mission Statement has been developed:

  • To provide advantage to the broad academic programs of the University of Iowa and participating institutions in South Australia, by providing a mechanism for communication, collaboration and co-operation in areas of educational activities, basic and applied research and clinical areas.

The iinitial strategic objectives are -

  • To facilitate the development of the core competencies of the University of Iowa and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Academic areas in South Australia in the areas of education, research and patient care.
  • To seek new projects in the areas of tele-medicine, tele-education and other related information technologies.
  • To facilitate the establishment of faculty scholar and student exchanges.
  • To advance the development of research projects in selected appropriate content areas.

This Transnational Alliance has been developed using modern business strategies proposed by Kanter, Hamel and Kaplan [and others], in conjunction with input from both Colleges of Business Administration. There has been an enormous amount of thought and discussion contributed to this Transnational Alliance by both parties. There is support for the Alliance in both Iowa City and Adelaide at many levels, as evidenced by the Transnational interactions already occurring, with proof of concept being illustrated by the 8 pilot projects already undertaken. The future success of the Transnational Alliance is very likely, given the enthusiasm and success of the early interactions. This Transnational Alliance has also been recently profiled in the Asian Business Review. There have been barriers, often relating to the lack of understanding by some individuals as to the nature of effective Transnational Alliances, but any barriers that have occurred have been predictable under these business models, and have not been insurmountable. The Transnational Alliance has been continuously developed using a balanced score-card approach as illustrated in the following figure -


This Transnational Alliance is an evolutionary step, which has been thoroughly researched, and will continue to be approached along academic lines.

This Transnational Alliance provides for all an opportunity to compete in an emerging, organized global academic/commercial environment. Such an approach has been recommended by a joint report of the Overseas Development Council and the Henry Stimson Center in their comprehensive report, developed over two years, and released in February 1997. The Alliance has been in early development for over five years. Current support is being provided in Iowa from the Office of the Provost, from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and Dentistry and from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, as well as by the personal efforts of faculty within the Iowa campus, especially Kitty Buckwalter in the Office of the Provost, Geoffrey McLennan [Transnational Coordinator - Internal Medicine], Eric Hoffman [Radiology], Scott Graham (Otolaryngology), and Shane Scott [Pharmacy]. Similar resources have been provided from South Australia. The formal start-up process to mature the Transnational Alliance will take an estimated further several years. There has been a significant learning process with this initiative.

It is expected that with the correct support, the Alliance will attract outside grants to enable the Alliance to become further established, functional and self-sustaining. These outside grants will be from the business as well as the government sector. Many of the likely projects will be eligible for World Bank funding, with South Australia serving as a gate-way into Asia. Conversely the University of Iowa will serve as a gateway into South America, with already established connections there. It is expected that the Transnational Alliance will aid the co-development of academic initiatives and their associated commercial programs, and that some of these commercial programs will generate significant revenue in the future.


The overall vision is of a pro-active, co-operative Transnational Alliance that seeks to maximize the Core Competencies of the Academic and Clinical programs in Iowa City and in Adelaide. This will provide each area with an additional advantage in attracting patients, students and external grant support. The increased level of grant support is one very positive aspect as neither area is a direct competitor for funding, and can therefore interact very positively. Further, by having a Transnational Alliance and seeking a Global presence, other funding opportunities such as the World Bank present themselves. The vision extends to facilitating exchange of staff as well as ideas. There are clearly tangible benefits as well as intangible ones.

It is clear that Universities are undergoing substantial change in the USA, and in Australia, and it is part of the vision of this Alliance that by meeting challenges together, the outcomes for each will be improved.

A further component of the vision is that this Transnational Alliance provides a template to allow each center to co-operatively compete in the Global Economy generally and particularly in Southeast Asia, and in South America. Also, that other Academic Centers from around the globe will be added to the Transnational Alliance in the future.

Finally the vision is that the interaction of both of these areas will produce unexpected synergistic benefits, rather than just additive benefits. It is a novel, affordable, and for the future, a highly desirable interaction.


There has been steady progress towards maturing the Transnational Alliance. This has revolved around developing each Strategic Objective, including various levels of proof of concept, (summarized in previous annual reports) and pursuing independent funding through the National Science Foundation.

The mechanisms implemented for each of the objectives are -

Strategic Objective (1):To facilitate the development of the core competencies of the University of Iowa and the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Academic areas in South Australia in the areas of education, research and patient care.

  • Sharing and co-developing of drug information educational programs and materials targeted for community pharmacy practitioners, via active interaction in the Pharmacy areas. The Pharmacy interaction has proceeded very well, with a collaborative formal program identified, discussed bilaterally, and on the table for initial support. The new as well as the recently retired Head of the College of Pharmacy continues to support the interaction.
  • Development and marketing of educational/training programs [e.g. laser safety, medical radiation]. A jointly developed (double badged - University of Iowa and the Royal Adelaide Hospital) Laser Safety program has been developed and is available for CME on the Virtual Hospital.
  • Development and sharing of advanced problem-based educational computer programs initially in medicine [e.g. Medici from South Australia and Clinsoft from Iowa]. Preliminary discussion has occurred, with a sample of Medici being made available to Iowa investigators. Medici is currently used in most Medical schools in Australia, with over 120 well developed problem based cases. This activity is currently on hold, as there are significant changes in the delivery of educational programs.
  • Collaboration in clinical research studies, such as the cancer data base, and occupational medicine. Preliminary discussion has taken place with the Adelaide cancer data base (recognized as a world leader), with enthusiastic support for further interaction. The College of Public Health through Dr. James Merchant/John Lowe in Iowa City are interested in participating with the South Australian counterparts, especially at Flinders University through public health programs there, but also through the South Australian Center for Rural and Remote Health - a combined effort of the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia. E-mail communication between these groups has occurred, as well as visits this year (2001) from members of the College of Public Health to South Australia.

Strategic Objective (2): To seek new projects in the areas of tele-medicine, tele-education and other related information technologies -

  • Application of the tele-consulation system for the advanced image display and analysis. Groups in Adelaide and Iowa (Professor Eric Hoffman) are in principle in agreement with a close interaction, to the point of utilizing expertise in Iowa to provide Image Analysis services on a trial basis with groups in South Australia. Iowa has already provided substantial image analysis software to Adelaide. One problem identified has been the relative lack of band-width for transmission of complex data sets including video. Internet 2 communications are currently being established to address these issues, they are currently available just within the last few weeks at the University of Iowa, and will be connected with Adelaide as part of the Transnational Alliance request in the early part of 2002.
  • Discuss and evaluate new technologies used within the educational institutions at these two global sites [e.g. PET scanning, real time MRI, ultra fast CT]. This would occur through Tele-conferencing, shortly available through Internet 2. The College of Engineering is particularly also interested in Iowa with applications of advanced Web-based 3D VRML modeling.
  • Conduct patient based video-conferences on rare and/or complex medical disorders in 2002, using the Picture-Tel systems available in both sites, but this year Internet 2 is expected to be available. Such conferences have been agreed in principle as being very valuable to discuss not only interesting medicine, but also the associated ethical, legal, cost and moral issues. Indeed, there are currently video-conferences ongoing as a series on palliative care, hosted in Iowa by Dr Jeffrey Spiess, and in Adelaide by Dr Ian Olver. Again these will be much easier using Internet 2 communications.
  • Joint participation in a Global Health Informatics Lecture program. This has been suggested by the Iowa group through Connie Delaney, and the first video-conference, with Adelaide experts delivering a Seminar for University of Iowa students, was very successfully held in April 1998. Again this initiative will be greatly facilitated by the availability of Internet 2.

Strategic Objective (3) : To facilitate the establishment of faculty scholar and student exchanges -

  • Develop student exchanges in all Health Sciences areas. The first student to participate in a Transnational Alliance sponsored internship was Rachel McDonald, a Biomedical Engineering student from Flinders University. Ms McDonald was successfully hosted at the University of Iowa from July 98 - December 98. Subsequently, in 1999, a second successful student internship occurred from Flinders University to the University of Iowa - Melissa Suter, for a 6 month period. From her studies at the University of Iowa Melissa has now published 2 papers. In 2000, the University of Iowa hosted two Flinders University students for a six-month internship - one worked successfully with the Orthopedic Dept at the University of Iowa, and the other in complex image analysis. Both have published successfully from their work in Iowa. Of great interest is that none of these students had as a career priority pursuing further academic study. However, after their experiences in Iowa they are now all pursuing postgraduate degrees; with Melissa Suter returning to Iowa in 2002 for that purpose. In 2001, the University of Iowa has successfully hosted 3 students from South Australia - one from the University of South Australia, and two from Flinders University
  • In parallel to this the first Engineering student from the University of Iowa will attend Flinders University in 2002.
  • Several pharmacy students from Adelaide have visited the University of Iowa for visits of several weeks.
  • The first medical student from the University of Iowa had a very successful 12 week internship at the University of Adelaide, with most of the time being spent at the Womens and Childrens Hospital with Dr Bruce Foster. This experience has kindled a significant interest in orthopedics, and that student has now arranged a student job in 2002 with the Orthopedic dept at the University of Iowa.
  • The Head of Engineering and Informational Technology (Andrew Downing) from Flinders University had a successful visit with the University of Iowa for several days in mid 2001, to further develop relationships.

Strategic Objective (4) : To advance the development of research projects in selected appropriate content areas -

  • Promote and use clinical facilities in Adelaide as a source of Phase I/II trials in oncology and other clinical research.
  • Development of evaluation research related to similarities and/or differences in information needs of patients in the United States and Australia.
  • Development of evaluation research related to the use of resources and the adoption of a drug information provider role by community pharmacy practitioners.
  • Examine the feasibility of collaborations in children's health and exercise and sports medicine between the University of Iowa and the Adelaide institutions. Active excellent programs have already been offered in principle from Adelaide to Iowa in these areas, and are currently waiting to proceed

Recent Progress in South Australia and Iowa - 2001

In 2001 several very significant events have occurred.

Bill Menzel AO, a prominent internationally recognized business person in South Australia passed away in January 2001. Bill was a strong supporter of the Transnational Alliance. Bill, in his will, created a Foundation to support the development of young peoples research careers, especially through the Transnational Alliance, and named Dr McLennan as Chair of that Foundation. Gerda Menzel, Bills widow, continues to support the Transnational Initiative, demonstrating that support with a visit to Iowa in May 2001, where she also took time to visit with the Provost, Jon Whitmore.

The Dept of Internal Medicine has provided a 50% salary line for partial clerical/secretarial support for the Transnational Interaction; by assisting Dr McLennan. This position was filled in November 2001.

The Internet 2 connection with South Australia has been activity pursued through the Internet 2 headquarters in Michigan, and connection seems assured in early 2002. This will be a great help in pursuing the many objectives of the Alliance.

The web site continues to provide information, and can be visited at


The establishment of this Transnational Alliance allows the collaboration with other friendly institutions to address critical issues of research, health care delivery and undergraduate and graduate education facing both nations. The collaboration with colleagues of similar stature will enable an equal sharing of expertise and similarly facilitate the exposure of faculty members and students to conditions and challenges different from the conditions and challenges faced on a regular basis. Thus enriching their life-long learning and teaching experiences. Another benefit lies in the additional opportunities for research and development funding through government and industry due to the international stature of the interaction. In an age of diminishing or static resources, and the increasing number of demands competing for those resources, no one group can expect to achieve their objectives solely on their own.

Another benefit is through increased global exposure. With a Transnational Alliance as a prototype, other relationships will be facilitated in the future in Southeast Asia including South Korea and China, with other European institutions, and with South America. With this development of other Transnational Alliances, opportunities to jointly develop specific differentiated health care/educational packages to offer Asian markets may evolve.

Substantial continuing interest has been generated on both sites. External grant proposals are being submitted to the International Branch of the National Science Foundation, and other bodies for the purpose of gaining funds for sustainability of the initiative past the period of the internal seed monies.

Geoffrey McLennan is the Transnational Coordinator.
Contact him for further information at

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Last modified: Thu Apr 18 13:03:25 CDT


ISATNA Director: Geoffrey McLennan (
ISATNA Coordinator: Christine McLennan (
ISATNA Liaison Officer (Australia): Frans de Ryk (

Last modified: Wed Aug 9 2006