Aug 092019

A celebration of Dr. George Hui’s administration of the NIH NIDDK Pacific-STEP UP Program for the past 15 years was held on July 29th. Attending the celebration were Dr. Griffin Rogers and Dr. Lawrence Agodoa from the NIDDK, JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, representatives of the Office of US Representative Ed Case, Mrs. Hui, faculty and students.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa continues 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 and trained 145 student interns in the NIDDK STEP-UP summer program, and exposed another 414 students to laboratory sciences during the school years. STEP-UP has helped build the capacity for laboratory research in the Pacific-based colleges (including personnel training) where little previously existed. Of 270 STEP-UP alumni tracked from as early as 2005, 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 greater US Pacific. A region with an urgent need to build and foster a pipeline of underrepresented individuals seeking health research and service careers and thus help combat health disparities.  With confidence that Pacific STEP-UP has established roots in the region, efforts continue to expand STEP-UP research training and mentoring.  STEP-UP continues to provide the NIDDK mandated research training/mentoring while raising community awareness of relevant health issues and the importance of “home-grown” healthcare researchers. Pacific STEP-UP has three Specific Aims. 1. Recruit the 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 strengthening local colleges’ capacity to enable and sustain laboratory and community-based research in support of the Pacific STEP-UP training program.