Despite glaring health disparities among American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders compared to non-indigenous populations, there is a paucity of culturally grounded research addressing their biomedical and behavioral health concerns. A strong network of highly trained and productive indigenous scholars dedicated to research that is culturally grounded would contribute to ameliorating health disparities among indigenous populations. This application, in response to RFA-MD-08-006 NIMHD Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (T37), is designed to develop the Mahina International Indigenous Health Research Training Program, which will provide an international 12-week health research training opportunity in New Zealand to qualified undergraduate, graduate, and medical students from Indigenous populations at the University of Washington and University of Hawaii at Manoa who have been historically underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral science, and social science research careers. The Mahina program was initiated and developed as the result of a bourgeoning tripartite partnership among the University of Washington (Indigenous Wellness Research Institute-IWRI; NIMHD-P60MD006909- 02), the University of Hawai'i' and the University of Auckland (Te Whare Kura and the Department for Maori Health). The Mahina program specific aims are to 1) Facilitate the development of a cadre of 32 indigenous undergraduate, graduate, and medical school students capable of and dedicated to entering into biomedical or behavioral science health research careers with Indigenous populations through an intensive international 12-week summer research training program consisting of the following: (1) a 2-week summer training institute at IWRI and University of Hawaii, followed by a 10-week international research training program at the University of Auckland and associated community-based research settings; (2) supervision and training by an international network of mentors with expertise in social, cultural, and historical determinants of indigenous health and health disparities, community based participatory/tribal participatory research, indigenous ethics and research protocols, and indigenous research methodologies; (3) community-based research exposure with mentors who will provide field research experiences, shadowing opportunities, as well as lectures, workshops, and seminars related to indigenous health research; (4) administrative, editorial, and technical assistance for developing conference presentations and writing manuscripts for publication; (5) year-round multidisciplinary learning opportunities via seminar series, virtual workshops, and presentations at home institutions; (6) access to a website and listserv to facilitate the sharing of relevant research, information, and opportunities; and, (7) a process evaluation of the program to identify factors key to its success.
Consistent with the main objectives of MHIRT T37s, the Mahina MHIRT brings our research, education, and clinical skills together to adapt and apply what we know to contribute to national and international efforts to reduce indigenous health disparities, improve mental and physical health outcomes and ultimately, to promote health and well-being among American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Our MHIRT T37 aims to: (1) encourage AIAN, Native Hawaiian (K?naka ??iwi), and Indigenous undergraduate, graduate, and medical students (UGM) to pursue careers in biomedical, life, and/or behavioral health research fields; (2) broaden the research experiences and scientific training of UGM students to encompass international indigenous health issues and curricula from the biomedical, behavioral, and social science aspects of health-related sciences; (3) expose trainees to models of high-quality indigenous health research as well as career options in biomedical and behavioral indigenous health research; and (4) create opportunities for Indigenous UGM students to participate in U.S. and international faculty collaborative research initiatives that address Indigenous health, health disparities, and health equity in the U.S., U.S. Territories of the Pacific, and globally.