Hawaiʻi Neuroscience Research Summer Internship underscores the importance of teamwork

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The Hawaiʻi Neuroscience Research Summer Internship Program creates an extraordinary learning opportunity for some of Hawaiʻi’s brightest  young minds. Not only do the kamaʻāina interns get to work alongside some of the state’s top researchers at the Hawaiʻi Pacific Neuroscience (HPN) Clinical Research Center, but they also team up in small groups to work on capstone research projects.

What’s especially unique about this program is that the interns range from undergraduate and graduate college students, medical students, residents and exceptional high school students.

This synergy between the neuroscientists and the interns, Dwayne Manzanillo says, was a novel concept for him, but one he prefers.

“Why compete? Why not collaborate?” said Manzanillo, an intern from UH Mānoa. He adds, “I learned the importance of collaboration, setting aside our varying points of view and finding the balance between work life and social life.”

During the eight weeks, the interns were also exposed to clinical work and spent time with patients face-to-face.

“I now see research as not just a science-centered career but as a people-centered one too,” said Daniel Omura, an intern from Wheaton College.

Dr. Kore Kai Liow, HPN Director and Principal Investigator, says that the program’s goal is for the students to discover the potential in neuroscience and “what a great difference it can make for somebody with Alzheimer’s, with Parkinson’s, or with stroke or with seizures.” He adds, “and show them what research can do to help the lives of patients with neurological disorders.”

This year’s 27 interns are currently studying at educational institutions across the nation, including the University of  Hawaiʻi (UH) at Mānoa, the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine, John Hopkins University and UC Berkeley.