Individuals raised within the Pacific Rim, including Native Hawaiians (NH), Filipinos, and other Pacific Islanders, i.e., Pacific People (PP), bring unique geographic, ethnic, and cultural perspectives to research. Yet, they remain underrepresented in research-oriented careers. They bring a personal perspective to research in health disparities, as they are burdened by many of the same communicable (malaria, TB, AIDS, dengue) and non-communicable diseases as other minority groups (e.g., diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity). Since receiving a MHIRT award in 2013, a Training Program designed for Pacific Peoples was developed at the University of Hawaii (UH) that provided training in all aspects of research, with an emphasis on health disparities in tropical medicine. The proposed MHRT Training Program is built on that foundation, but has shifted the focus from laboratory-based biomedical research to research on social, behavioral, and public health aspects of health disparities impacting NH/PP communities. Dr. V. Nerurkar, Chair of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology (T3MP), and Dr. J.K. Kaholokula, Chair of Native Hawaiian Health (NHH), will co-direct the revised program, providing complementary expertise in biomedical and behavioral sciences. Faculty in NHH, T3MP, the Cancer Center and Departments of Nutrition, Psychology, Public Health, and Social Welfare at UH join the revised Hawaii-MHRT Training Program. Annually, 5 undergraduate and 5 pre-doctoral trainees will receive MHRT training, since this is the point of highest attrition of NH/PP in the educational pipeline. Training includes: 1) a Spring semester course covering the basics principles of research; 2) working with UH and national and international mentors to develop research projects; 3) attending an 8-day Pre-Travel Workshop on health disparities; 4) conducting research (under-graduates and graduates 10-12 weeks; pre-doctoral 1 to 2 semesters) at one of 4 national or 3 international sites; 5) analyzing results and interpreting data at a Post-Travel Workshop; 6) creating ?E Ho?oulu haumana? (Hawaiian for ?emerging students?), a public presentation of research results for families, friends, and faculty; and 7) continue conducting research and receiving mentoring for career development until graduation and beyond. Trainees will have the opportunity to work on culturally-relevant projects important to the communities; for example, conduct research on 1) diabetes prevention in a community of migrants from the Marshall Islands at the University of Arkansas; 2) obesity prevention in American Indian women at the University of Washington; 3) hypertension intervention with NH/PP living is Seattle with Washington State University; 4) prevention of smoking on cancer prevalence at the University of Guam; 5) health problems of transgender women at the Thai Red Cross, Thailand; 6) community-based initiative to respond to Ebola outbreaks at the University of Liberia; and 7) prenatal care of pregnant women in rural villages in Cameroon. Pre-doctoral students will present their results at departmental seminars and local and national meetings. The Hawaii MHRT Training Program goal is to increase the number of NH/PP students who are trained in research incorporating a diversity of ideas, culture, and talents while tailoring their research to be community and culturally sensitive.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this training grant is to teach underrepresented minority students in Hawai?i, who are primarily of Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Filipino descent, basic concepts/approaches in transdisciplinary research. The program is designed for 5 undergraduate and 5 pre-doctoral students to learn about national and international health disparities and to conduct research either within the United States or internationally (Cameroon, Liberia,and Thailand). The program supports NIH?s goal of encouraging underrepresented students to seek research careers in academia, government, industry, non-profit foundations, and other research-oriented activities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
Minority International Research Training Grants (FIC) (T37)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMD1)
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Berzon, Richard
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University of Hawaii
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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