Featured Story: Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) Grant 10/13

by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald and Julia Hanebrink, MHIRT Program Directors

Group photo of MHIRT students and faculty for at the 2013 MHIRT Symposium.

Group photo of MHIRT students and faculty for at the 2013 MHIRT Symposium.

CBU prides itself on effective and enjoyable teaching. An integral part of such teaching is having the students perform research internships. There are different ways for students to perform their research: with a CBU professor, with a researcher at another local institution such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), or with a researcher participating in grant funded research anywhere in the U.S.

CBU student Elton Banks (Biomedical Science, ’14) learns how to how to mount tissues on a slide in Dr. Luiz Britto’s lab in the  Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the Universidade de São Paulo.

CBU student Elton Banks, Biomedical Science 2014, learns how to how to mount tissues on a slide in Dr. Luiz Britto’s lab in the Department of Physiology & Biophysics at the Universidade de São Paulo.

In addition to the above opportunities, CBU is pleased to provide an excellent opportunity to do this research via internships, while assisting underserved individuals, at sites in Brazil and Uganda, with all expenses paid and a stipend through a Minority Health International Research Training (MHIRT) grant funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This is a major collaborative project involving CBU, and other regional academic institutions that started in 2000. Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, CBU Professor of Biology, and Mrs. Julia Hanebrink, an alum and Adjunct Lecturer of Anthropology at CBU, co-direct the MHIRT Program. There is also an advisory board that consists of faculty from the University of Memphis, Rhodes College, University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis and LeMoyne Owen College. These faculty assist in the recruitment of students locally at their institutions. Students and faculty travel to these countries to conduct research on biomedical and behavioral health disparities in collaboration with leading scientists and researchers from foreign universities and community organizations. Approximately 15 students participate in this MHIRT program each year in the summer after having participated in preparation workshops the prior spring.

This year, two new research sites were offered to students. Dr. Cilene Lino de Oliviera mentored Erica Johnson (Jackson State, Healthcare Administration) on a project titled A Translational Rodent Assay of Affective Biases in Depression and Antidepressant Therapy: A Protocol Replication in the Behavioral Neurobiology lab at the Federal University of Santa Catarina. Margaret Ajok, Executive Director of the Centre for Reparations and Rehabilitation in northern Uganda, collaborated with graduate students Amanda Reinke (UT Knoxville, Anthropology) and Justin Hendrix (U of M, Public Health) on a project assessing sexual- and gender-based violence.

The most wonderful things happen as a result of these summer research experiences. Students go on to graduate programs in dentistry, medicine, anthropology, epidemiology, public health, and biological sciences. Some dedicate their lives to helping others by setting up non-profit organizations, or working with the foreign sites. All continue to be globally involved. You can read about the students’ wonderful, life-changing experiences at the new MHIRT Blog. Deadline for applications this year is December 31, 2013. For more information, visit the MHIRT website.