New research opportunities abroad for undergrads who apply by mid-January

Minority students with 2 years of science courses eligible

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dr. Vivek Nerurkar, (808) 692-1668
Professor & Chair, Tropical Medicine, UH medical school
Posted: Jan 3, 2014

Children in Cameroon
Children in Cameroon

Undergraduate students in Hawai`i with two years of science studies under their belts have the opportunity to take part in a new program where they will learn laboratory techniques and shadow scientists on the ground in Thailand or the Central African nation of Cameroon during the summer.

The John A. Burns School of Medicine has been awarded the International Biomedical Research Training for Minority Students grant, a first of its kind award for the University of Hawai`i (UH). The NIH funded program ($1.3 million over five years) will engage nine eligible undergraduates and one graduate student annually in international research in tropical medicine, infectious diseases and related health sciences.

Who is eligible          

Students must belong to ethnic backgrounds that fit the U.S. government’s definition as being under-represented in biomedical research “including Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, Blacks and African Americans, Hispanic Americans or Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives; and rural; and low socio-economic groups.” And they must have completed two years of science course work.

The goal of the program is to reverse the health disparities which exist among underserved populations not only in Hawai`i, but worldwide. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and UH are trying to increase the number of scientists who are minorities, in hopes they will conduct research that address health disparities.

The Undergraduate Experience: Preparation

The Program takes place throughout one academic year. During the spring semester, selected students will register for one credit of directed reading (e.g. TRMD499 or equivalent) and can select to work with one of several research mentors. The one credit of course work provides time for students to select a project, read relevant literature, discuss their research topic with the UH and foreign mentor, and prepare for the summer research experience abroad.                                                                                              

Summer: Hands-on learning

In early summer, students will participate in an eight day “Introduction to Biomedical Research Workshop” at the UH and then spend about eight weeks conducting directed research in either Bangkok, Thailand, or Yaounde, Cameroon (Central Africa).  After returning, students will attend a post-workshop where they will discuss their summer research experiences in a group setting, work with biostatisticans on data analysis, discuss research results, meet with faculty mentors, and begin preparing written reports. They will also design and present “E ulu haumana” a presentation of their results for their families, friends and faculty.

During the following Fall semester, students may continue to conduct research in laboratories at UH if they wish, and will present their results at a symposium in the Spring semester.  The students will also serve as mentors for the next year’s incoming students.

The Graduate Experience  

Graduate students interested in biomedical research will spend one semester conducting research in either Thailand or Cameroon. The research project should address a topic related to health disparities and related to their on-going MS or PhD research projects. The selected students will be able to attend the summer introductory workshop before spending 1 semester abroad. Students may apply for either the fall or spring semester. The trainee, his/her academic mentor at UH, and the international mentor will discuss the research project. Then, the trainee will submit a written proposal to the international mentor and his/her dissertation committee for approval.

Financial support  

Students will receive $1,000/month for 3 months (total $3,000) for participating in the summer program. The training program will cover the cost of airfare, visa, and all entrance/exit fees. Housing at the foreign site will be arranged and provided to students participating in the program.

Who to contact for additional information:  

If you are interested in applying for the program, please consult our website which includes application information. Also, please contact Dr. Sandra Chang, Dr. Vivek R. Nerurkar, or Dr. Diane W. Taylor at this email address: to discuss the program.

How to apply:

1.  Fill out the short application form.

2.  Provide a copy of your transcript.

3.  Provide the names and email address for two references who are members of the teaching and/or research faculty.

4.  Provide a short essay on the following topic:

What do you think is the most significant minority health or health disparity problem today that biomedical research can solve? Please select a specific problem and tell us why you think scientists can solve it.

5.  Applications for the 2014 program are due 15 January 2014.

Send the above information to:

 International Biomedical Research Training Program for Minority Students, Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology & Pharmacology, BSB320, John A. Burns School of Medicine, 651 Ilalo Street, Honolulu, HI 96813 OR email to:


For more information, visit: