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Two UH undergraduates win national awards for their health sciences research in Africa

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Tina Shelton, (808) 554-2586
Director of Communications, Office of Dean of Medicine
Posted: Nov 16, 2017

Minority scientist winners Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan at the conference in Arizona.
Minority scientist winners Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan at the conference in Arizona.
Antallan and Fernandez on stage with other conference award winners.
Antallan and Fernandez on stage with other conference award winners.

Two University of Hawaiʻi undergraduate scientists who conducted research in Africa through a program based at the John A. Burns School of Medicine have received national awards for their impressive presentations.

Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan each received travel support and the opportunity to present their findings at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Arizona. At the national conference, they were among fewer than two dozen students, from among several hundred participants, who earned “Outstanding Presentation” awards.

Fernandez, who did his research on Hepatitis C in Cameroon, Central Africa, is a biological chemistry major at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Antallan, who examined whether testing by saliva for a parasite that causes malaria would be simpler and more popular than blood draws among patients in Cameroon, is pursing an associate’s degree in natural science, biological sciences pathway, at KapiʻolaniCommunity College.

Both took part in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training program at JABSOM. MHIRT is a unique and exciting hands-on experience conducting science abroad that is open to aspiring scientists from college campuses who have completed at least two years of science studies.

Funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the local 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 through December 1, 2017, for the 2018 MHIRT cohort.

MHIRT spans one academic year. In summer 2018, participants will attend 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.

Past UH MHIRT students have traveled 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 mentors. After returning, they discuss their summer research experiences in a group, work with biostatisticians to analyze the data and begin preparing written reports. Each participating student receives $1,000 per month over three months in the summer program.

Other MHIRT students at UH have studied the Zika virus, malaria, breast cancer awareness and prevention, nutrition, addiction, diabetes and obesity, skin disorders and jellyfish stings.

To learn more and see videos of the presentations by Fernandez and Antallan, visit the JABSOM UH Med Now website.

For more information, visit: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/tropicalmedicine/mhirt/