Hawai'i is the most multiracial state in the nation. Even though diversity is high at the University of Hawaii, Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Filipinos, as well as other minority groups, remain seriously underrepresented in biomedical research. The Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology (T3MP) has a long-term investment in training students from ethnically underrepresented backgrounds in Tropical Medicine with the goal of increasing the number of research career professionals who are Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and Filipinos. Through the T3MP STEP-UP program, we have set up laboratories in Guam, Saipan, and Yap and begun to train high school students from the Pacific. High school students from these sites and Hawai'i spend summers conducting directed research at the University of Hawai'i. Similarly, we recently developed training programs in Cameroon, Thailand, and China for graduate and post-doctoral fellows. To fill the gap of undergraduate student international research training, we now apply for the NIMHD Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (T37) grant to complete our pipeline of training efforts from high school through careers in biomedical research. Our Program is unique because it focuses on a population of ethnically-diverse students with ties to Hawai'i who are not participating in other MHIRT programs. Since our program provides an international research experience to students who are considering a wide variety of research careers in biomedical research (i.e., students interested in careers in addition to PhD), research opportunities will be provided that are not currently available at the University of Hawai'i. We propose to enroll 9 undergraduates and 1 graduate student annually. The students will be from the University of Hawai'i, Chaminade University in Honolulu, universities located in the Pacific attended by non- citizen nationals (e.g., Guam, American Samoa), and former STEP-UP students enrolled at other universities. The undergraduate experience will be for a minimum of one year. Students will be identified during the Fall semester and take a course in Directed Reading during the Spring semester. In the summer, they will attend an 8-day Introduction to Biomedical Research Workshop and discuss all aspects of the conduct of research and topics on minority health and health disparities at the local, national and global level that relate to their research projects. Trainees will then spend ~8 weeks in either Cameroon or Thailand conducting research on tropical diseases that impact health disparity. Upon returning, they will relate their cultural experience with peers;present their research results to faculty, friends and family;and join research laboratories where they can participate in research until graduation. The graduate student will spend one semester abroad as part of their dissertation. Thus, our Program is specifically designed to attract and retain Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, Filipinos and other minority students into the biomedical sciences, as they are needed to provide diversity in all fields of biomedical research, not only in Hawai'i, but nationally and internationally as well.
The goal of this training grant is to teach underrepresented minority students in Hawai'i, who primarily of Hawaiian, Pacific Island and Filipino descent, basic concepts in biomedical research. The program is designed for nine undergraduate and one graduate student annually to conduct research in Cameroon and Thailand and learn about global health disparities. The program supports NIH's goal of encouraging minority and other underrepresented students to seek careers in biomedical research.
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