Associated Press - May 22, 2011 10:55 AM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - As Tennessee's economy shifts to businesses with ties to China, students as early as middle school are taking an interest in learning the language that could help their careers.

“I follow in bits and pieces,” said the Hillsboro High School junior, who plans to study physical therapy in college and minor in international business.

It’s why he signed up for Introductory Mandarin Chinese, a course the school launched in the fall. Before that, Nelson tried to learn from books from the public library.

For U.S. companies looking to conduct clinical trials of new drugs and medical devices, Brentwood resident Dr. R. Stephen Porter is pitching China as a lower-cost setting where the job can get done much more quickly.

His consulting company, Dragon Bio-Consultants Ltd., helps American drug companies license their products in China and Chinese companies to license products here by getting through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration process.

Ming Wang, MD, PhD
International president and co-owner, Shanghai Aier Eye Hospital (
Founding president, Tennessee Chinese Chamber of Commerce (

Clinical associate professor of ophthalmology, University of Tennessee
Director, Wang Vision Cataract and LASIK Center, Nashville, TN, USA,

- China is the country with the fastest growth, in clinical trials, from 2005 to 2008, the increase is 75%, in 3 years.

- There are nearly 2,000 registered trials in China today.

Click here to view the presentation given by Ming Wang, MD, PhD.