Gov. Bob Riley is traveling around the world, and he’s taking a UAB professor along for part of the ride.
Ruiwen Zhang, a professor of pharmacology in the department of clinical pharmacology and toxicology, is accompanying Riley on a trade trip to China that began July 8. It’s an especially exciting opportunity for Zhang, who came to UAB from China in 1989 as a post-doctoral fellow.  

Zhang says he is elated to be returning to his home country and representing UAB along the way.

“When I heard about the opportunity of promoting Alabama and UAB in China, I just said, ‘Hey, I’m happy to be a part of that,’” Zhang says.

Riley is scheduled to be the keynote speaker for a biotechnology and pharmaceutical conference in Shanghai. Zhang will also speak at the conference, giving insight into the research efforts at UAB.

“We can use this opportunity to talk about UAB, talk about our research and talk about our strengths here,” Zhang says.

Zhang says that will help the governor and the state of Alabama achieve its mission for the trip. “It will help Alabama develop biotechnology and biopharmaceutical business in China,” he says. “This is the first time I’ve heard about such a high-level delegation going to China with such specific goals and with a purpose — promoting research and development for the state of Alabama.

Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office and state government’s top industrial recruiter, has said Riley will be the first Alabama governor to lead a trade trip to China since George Wallace in 1984. Alabama has had a sister state relationship with the Chinese province of Hubei since Wallace’s trip, something Riley will try to strengthen. China is Alabama’s fifth largest trading partner with exports more than doubling since 2001 to $467 million in 2005.

Riley will be visiting other countries on the 10-day trip to lure more industries. The governor and some 30-plus business and university officials will leave China for Seoul, South Korea, on July 13 where they will be met by one Alabama delegation; on July 15, Riley will arrive in London where he will be joined by another.