MHRT Program Information

Undergraduate college students in Hawai`i with two years of science studies under their belt and UH Manoa graduate students have the opportunity to take part in a program where they will learn laboratory techniques, shadow scientists on the ground at UH Manoa and out-of-states research sites, and carry out a research project during the summer.

MHRT students and faculty at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand.

The John A. Burns School of Medicine has been awarded a grant to support Minority Health Research Training Program in Health Disparities, NIH (5T37MD008636), currently in its eight year of funding at the University of Hawai`i (UH). The National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded program ($1.3 million over five years) will engage five undergraduates and five graduate students annually in health-disparities research in tropical medicine in laboratory-based biomedical research as well as research on social, behavioral, and public health aspects of health disparities impacting Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and other Pacific Islander communities. For updated program information, please visit the MHRT website.

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.”

Unacceptable differences exist in health care access and treatment outcomes for certain ethnic groups, not only in Hawai’i but worldwide. Biomedical research can play a critical role in addressing those differences. The 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

Spring: Preparation

The Program takes place throughout one academic year. During the spring semester, selected students will register for a three-credit directed reading course (e.g. TRMD499 or equivalent) and can choose to work with one of several research mentors. The three-credit of coursework provides time for students to learn the ins and outs of different research fields (i.e. Basic science research and Community-Based Participatory Research), select a project for their Summer Research Experience, complete Responsible Conduct of Research training, learn what an Elevator speech is and perfect it.

Summer: Summer Research Experience

MHIRT and Tropical Medicine students at field site in Cameroon
MHIRT and Tropical Medicine students at field site in Cameroon

In early summer, students will participate in a two-week “Pre-Research Workshop” at UH – JABSOM and then spend roughly eight weeks conducting directed research in international or national laboratories (Bangkok, Thailand, Yaounde, Cameroon (Central Africa), or Arkansas). After returning, students will attend a post-workshop where they will discuss their research experiences in a group setting, work with biostatisticians on data analysis, discuss research results, meet with faculty mentors, and begin preparing written reports. They will also design and execute the “E hoʻoulu haumāna” which is a presentation of their experiences and results to their families, friends, and faculty.

Fall: Laboratory Research and Presentations

During the following Fall semester, students may continue to conduct research in laboratories at UH if they wish, and are encouraged to present their MHRT project at a symposium in the Spring semester. The students may also serve as mentors for the following year’s incoming MHRT students.
To learn about the previous MHIRT/MHRT student experiences, please see:

Past Trainees

The Graduate Experience

Graduate students interested in biomedical research will spend one semester conducting research on 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 beginning their research project. Students may apply for either the fall or spring semester. The trainee, his/her academic mentor at UH or at another partner institution will discuss the research project. Then, the trainee will submit a written proposal to the mentor and his/her dissertation committee for approval.

Financial support    

Students will receive $1,000/month for three months (total $3,000) for participating in the summer program. The training program will cover the cost of travel when applicable. Housing at the out-of-state 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 follow the application instructions provided below. To discuss the program with our faculty, please contact Dr. Vivek R. Nerurkar or Dr. Angela Sy by email:

How to apply:

Application information may be found on the MHRT Application webpage.