UH Med Now

University of Hawaiʻi students win national recognition for health sciences research in Africa supported by MHIRT Program

Date: November 14th, 2017 in JABSOM News, Research, Student Life    Print or PDF

Shows the MHIRT students who won the national recognition

Pictured: Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan at the national Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Arizona.

By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director

Two undergraduate scientists who conducted research in Africa through a program based at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) medical school have received national awards for their impressive presentations.

Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan each received travel support and the opportunity to present their research at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students held in early November in Arizona. On top of that, while attending the conference, they earned “Outstanding Presentation” awards. Several hundred microbiology students nationwide competed for the awards, but fewer than two dozen won the “Outstanding Presentation” designation. Fernandez is a Biological Chemistry major at UH Mānoa. Antallan is pursuing her Associate’s in Science in Natural Science (ASNS) degree in the Biological Sciences Pathway at Kapiʻolani Community College.

Fernandez and Antallan were participants in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). MHIRT offers a unique and exciting hands-on experience conducting science abroad. It is open to aspiring scientists from college campuses throughout Hawaiʻi who have completed at least two years of science studies. Funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Hawaiʻi program annually accepts nine undergraduates and one graduate student to take part in international research projects in tropical medicine, infectious diseases and related health sciences.

Applications are being accepted now through December 1st for the 2018 MHIRT cohort at the University of Hawai’i. DOWNLOAD THE 2018 REGISTRATION FORM.

MHIRT includes summer travel and academic support
MHIRT spans one academic year. In the summer, 2018 MHIRT students will participate in an 8-day “Introduction to Biomedical Research Workshop” at UH Mānoa. Then they will spend about nine weeks conducting mentored research in Bangkok, Thailand, or Yaounde, Cameroon (in Central Africa).

Past UH MHIRT students have traveled in the summer to Africa, Thailand, India and Palau to conduct research “on the ground,” where they are paired with top scientists in each country who serve as their mentors. After returning, they discuss their summer research experiences in a group, work with biostatisticians on analyzing the data and begin preparing written reports. Each participating student receives $1,000/month for three months for participating in the summer program.

2017 MHIRT student Jovikka Antallan examined whether testing by saliva for a parasite that causes malaria would be simpler and more popular than blood draws with patients in Cameroon.

Jovikka Antallan is pictured at the University of Hawai’i 2017 MHIRT concluding ceremony.

Michael Fernandez, a 2016 UH MHIRT student, also traveled to Cameroon for his nationally recognized research into Hepatitis C.

Michael Fernandez is pictured

Michael Fernandez is shown at the Arizona conference where he won national recognition.

Other 2017 MHIRT students studied the Zika virus, malaria, breast cancer awareness and prevention, nutrition, addiction, diabetes and obesity and jellyfish stings.

University of Hawaiʻi Mentors for the 2017 MHIRT Program were:
Dr. Diane W. Taylor (Professor, TRMD)
Dr. Vivek R. Nerurkar (Department Chair, JABSOM Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology)
Dr. John M. Berestecky (Professor, Kapiʻolani Community College)
Dr. Kenji Obadia Mfuh (former PhD student of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, graduated May 2017)
Yukie M. Lloyd (PhD Candidate)

Click here to read about the 2017 MHIRT student experiences in a series of newsletters published on-line.

Click here to see photos from the 2017 UH MHIRT concluding ceremony.

Our UH students are shown among the winners at the national conference in Arizona.

The UH MHIRT website is at http://manoa.hawaii.edu/tropicalmedicine/mhirt/
Do you still have further questions about MHIRT? Please contact faculty Dr. Sandra Chang, Dr. Vivek R. Nerurkar, or Dr. Diane W. Taylor by email at MHIRT-L@lists.hawaii.edu

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