Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan on stage with other conference award winners.

Two University of Hawaiʻi undergraduate students Jovikka Antallan and Michael Fernandez, who conducted health science research in Africa, received national awards for their presentations at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Arizona. Fewer than two dozen students, from among several hundred participants, were honored with Outstanding Presentation awards.

Michael Fernandez and Jovikka Antallan at the conference in Arizona.

Antallan examined whether testing by saliva for a parasite that causes malaria would be simpler and more popular than blood draws among patients in Cameroon, Central Africa. She is pursing an associate degree in natural science, biological sciences pathway, at Kapiʻolani Community College.

Fernandez did his research on Hepatitis C in Cameroon. He is a biological chemistry major at UH Mānoa.

Antallan and Fernandez took part in the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

To learn more and see videos of their presentations, go to the UH Med Now.

More about the MHIRT program

Funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the local MHIRT 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.

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.

Applications are being accepted through December 1, 2017, for the 2018 MHIRT cohort. To learn more, visit the MHIRT website.

—By Tina Shelton