The Mid-South Coalition for Minority Health International Research Training (the Coalition) was established in 2000 to provide international research training opportunities to qualified minority students underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social science research careers. This is a competing renewal application from Christian Brothers University (CBU) in Memphis, TN, the lead institution of the Coalition. The Coalition includes faculty at CBU and three other Memphis universities: LeMoyne-Owen College, a Historically Black College;Rhodes College, a private liberal arts college;and the University of Memphis, a state institution. Additionally, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK), the flagship institution of the statewide UT system, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), the medical school in Memphis, has participating faculty members that assist in recruitment. While the Coalition recruits trainees from its member institutions, this program also accepts participants nationwide. This program typically accepts 12-14 participants annually, of which at least 75% are undergraduates. Research projects through the Coalition address pervasive health care problems among minority and rural populations in the U.S. and abroad. For 10-12 weeks every summer, the Coalition places trainees in clinical, qualitative, field-based, or laboratory research settings. This research is primarily conducted in Brazil and Uganda, but sites in Kenya and Thailand have also been available, depending on safety and stability in those areas. Previously funded projects in Uganda have investigated malaria prevention, access to health care and psychosocial interventions for war-affected communities, health-seeking behaviors and health perspectives in the context of medical pluralism, and cultural competence among health care providers. Projects in Brazil have included research on anxiety disorders, visual function, environmental pollution, neurotransmitter receptor expression and function, pediatric screenings for adenocarcinoma, and epidemiological mapping of population health. MHIRT trainees gain valuable knowledge of current scientific literature, research design and responsible implementation, data analysis, research write-up and presentation, and cross- cultural competence. The primary mission of the Coalition is to provide disadvantaged students with the opportunity to participate in international research that positively impacts the health care of underserved populations abroad, with an application to health care in the U.S. This program enhances educational experiences, fosters graduate program acceptance and completion, expands career options, and provides specialized training that enables minority students to join the growing cadre of professionals working to reduce health disparities.
This program has directly impacted public health by: providing malaria education and prevention tools in southwest Uganda;collecting data that aided the formation of a clinic in northern Uganda;offering arts-based psychosocial initiatives for war-affected youth in northern Uganda;conducting a health needs assessment and encouraging community participation in matters of health in eastern Uganda;identifying disease-specific and regionally-specific health-seeking behaviors and the dynamics of pluralistic medicine throughout Uganda;creating a social medicine teaching module for health care students and professionals in Uganda;expanding health care for adolescents in Mae Sot, Thailand;investigating domestic violence, access to health care, health care education, and adolescent health in Burmese displacement camps along the Thai border;providing health care linked with carnivore conservation in the Brazilian wetlands;assisting in screening and thereby potentially curing adenocarcinoma in newborns in Curitiba, Brazil;using web-mapping tools to assess the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in people exposed to Hepatitis B, C, or D and other environmental and socioeconomic factors in Parana, Brazil;identifying obstacles faced by community health workers and creating sanitation initiatives focused on reducing environmentally-related disease in Kenyan slums;and measuring growth and development and providing child-rearing sensitizations within impoverished communities in Nairobi.
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