The University of Hawaii at Manoa proposes to continue to develop the Pacific STEP-UP Program to provide research training and mentoring to underrepresented minority and disadvantaged high school students in the State of Hawaii, and the US Territories in the Pacific: American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. For the past 5 years, Pacific STEP-UP has enrolled trained 145 student interns in the NIDDK STEP-UP summer program, and exposed another 414 students to laboratory sciences during the school years. We built the capacity for laboratory research in the Pacific colleges (including personnel training) where there were none before us. We tracked over 270 STEP-UP alumni from as early as 2005 to find that a great majority pursued college education with a science emphasis, and many also sought post-graduate training and terminal degrees. To date, Pacific STEP-UP remains the only formalized research training program for high school students in the US Pacific, amid the urgent need to build and foster a pipeline of underrepresented individuals seeking health research careers in order to combat health disparity in this region of the world. With confidence that Pacific STEP-UP has established roots in the region, we will continue to develop and expand our STEP-UP research training and mentoring program. Moreover, new strategies and approach in training and mentoring, as well as in capacity building will be used to further STEP-UP's reach into the Pacific communities. The goal is that in the process of providing the NIDDK mandated research training/mentoring, our Program will raise community awareness of relevant health issues and of the future values in the ?home-grown? healthcare researchers; thereby drawing support for health-related research. Pacific STEP-UP aims to seed and shape a culture that values scientific research as the means to address health issues in these communities. Accordingly, we propose three Specific Aims. 1. Recruit best qualified high school students (11th and 12th graders) from the seven US State and Territories in the Pacific into the STEP-UP Summer Research Program, and track the cohort's academic progress for a minimum of 5 years. 2. Provide individualized summer research experience (and related education and training) that stresses local community or population relevance to the Pacific STEP-UP interns. Provide STEP-UP alumni with follow up, and research-focused, mentoring extending for 9 months. 3. Seed and cultivate interests in laboratory sciences in the Pacific high schools while strengthen local colleges' capacity to enable and sustain laboratory and community based research; all in support of the Pacific STEP-UP training program by expanding the application pool and research opportunities.

Public Health Relevance

It is widely known that health disparity occurs among underrepresented minority populations such as the Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). It is also widely accepted that research on diseases that disproportionately affect minorities may be best take on by scientists of the same minority background because they are more sensitive to ethnic and cultural issues that are contributory to the disease processes. Unfortunately, the number of underrepresented minorities engage in biomedical research is much smaller than that for the general population. The proposed research training program will address this deficiency by targeting underrepresented high school students in all US affiliated Pacific communities and provide opportunities for biomedical research experience. The goals and objectives are to inform, raise interests and awareness of biomedical research careers in these populations in order to create and sustain a pipeline of underrepresented individuals with likelihood of pursuing biomedical research careers.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZDK1)
Program Officer
Rivers, Robert C
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University of Hawaii
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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