The University of Michigan Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Program have offered opportunities for active participation in international research to 395 students, most of who are from health disparity populations. The majority of these students have continued on into research careers in health- related fields or professional practices working with underserved populations. We would like to continue this highly successful program that engages students in research on problems that disproportionately affect children in developing countries and poor/minority children in the U.S. Student research experiences occur within the framework of ongoing collaborative studies of University of Michigan faculty members in three cultural regions: the Americas (Chile, Colombia, Jamaica);Africa (Ghana and Kenya);and Asia (China and Mongolia). These projects address physical health and/or behavioral issues as well as the social- educational-environmental determinants of health. No less than 12 students will be offered extensive training each year (9 undergraduates and 3 medical/graduate students). The training program encompasses: 1) one semester of pre-departure preparation;2) extended close mentoring in the U.S. and at international sites;3) research involving design of a study or subproject (if appropriate), collection, analysis, and interpretation of original data, and presentation of the research project in oral and written form;4) closely-supervised training overseas for 12 weeks;and 5) post-trip follow-up, including: career guidance;facilitation of further research placements;opportunities for independent study programs;mentoring related to honors theses and doctoral dissertations;and assistance in preparing manuscripts and presentations. Minority and/or junior faculty investigators engaged in research on child health inequalities in the U.S. are encouraged to develop projects into studies that can be done at the foreign sites. We have been successful at leveraging funds from other University of Michigan units to support additional students and will continue to seek out sponsors for qualified trainees. In the current funding cycle, we have been able to fund an additional 34 trainees, all with co-support from other units.
The University of Michigan MHIRT program fosters scientific and career mentoring relationships between successful senior investigators, junior faculty, and students from health disparities populations. It is designed to provide students from health disparities populations with an intensive international research experience related to risk factors that differentially affect the health of low-income and minority children in the U.S. and developing countries. The program helps to maintain and expand productive, enriching international collaborations in research and training for both the University and the foreign host institutions.
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