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School ofSciences

MHIRT Project Descriptions

The information below describes previous research sites. New research sites are currently being developed and previous research sites are subject to change based on mentor availability. 


Follow the journey of our MHIRT Students on the MHIRT-CBU blog




Project description: Basic research on visual psychophysics. The research will involve visual testing of people. The tests will consist of contrast sensitivity and visual evoked potentials.             

Site mentors: Dr. Bruno Gomes, Dr. Givago Souza

Recent MHIRT Project Titles (Belem):

  • 2016: Visual Evoked Potential for Luminance Contrast Masked by Color Noise. 
  • 2015: The Use of a New Color Test for Chromatic Discrimination and Luminance Noise Comparison in Normal and Color Deficient Subjects Measured with Pseudoisochromatic Stimuli. 
  • 2014: Low Number of Luminance Levels in the Luminance Noise Increases Color Discrimination Thresholds Estimated with Pseudoisochromatic Stimuli. 
  • 2013: Comparative Analysis of the Electroretinogram Of Normal Patients With Retinitis Pigmentosa.
  • 2012: Multifocal Visual Evoked Potential Waveform Reliability and Amplitude Patterns.
  • 2011: Psychophysiology of Human Color Vision: Color Contrast Sensitivity and Color Discrimination.


Project description: Basic research on anxiety and memory acquisition. Use of neuropharmacology to investigate anxiety and memory.

Mentor: Dr. Antonio Padua Carobrez, Department of Pharmacology, University of Santa Catarina, Santa Catarina Island

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2015: Effects of Beta Blockers on Isoprenaline Fear Conditioned Rats.  
  • 2014: Effects of Systemic Injections of Nonselective Beta-adrenergic Agonist Isoprenaline on Fear Conditioning in Rats.
  • 2013: Interaction between Dorsolateral Periaqueductal Gray and Glucocorticoids in Formation of Aversive Memories.
  • 2011: Food Motivation in Female Rats: The Effect of Antidepressant Medications.
  • 2010: Neurobiology of Learning and Memory: Olfactory Fear Conditioning and the Process of Memory Extinction Training in Rats.


Project description: Aquatic environmental science: Expression of heat shock proteins in aquatic invertebrates as an environmental pollution indicator. Using heat shock protein expression in either bivalves or shrimp as a bioindicator of environmental pollution. Techniques used, Western blots of tissue obtained from shrimp or bivalues that have been exposed to heavy metals. 

Mentor: Dr. Maria Risoletta Marques, Department of Biochemistry, University of Santa Catarina, Santa Catarina Island

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2016: Gene Expression Rates of Target Genes in Hepatopancreas Tissue of Litopeneaus Vannamei after Experimental White Spot Syndrome Virus Infection.  
  • 2015: Exploring the Effects of Cynodon dactylon Extract on White Spot Syndrome Virus Virulence in Pennaus vannamei.   
  • 2014: Molecular Defense Responses in Neohelice Granulata infected with White Spot Syndrome Virus.
  • 2013: Santa Catarina's Crimson Tide: Viral Identification and a Histone Expression Investigation.
  • 2012: The Infectivity of the Crab Chasmagnathus granulata to the White Spot Syndrome Virus.
  • 2011: Identifying Biomarkers for the Presence of White Spot Syndrome Virus in Shrimp.


Project description: The elucidation of the role of the recently reported peripheral venous serotonergic system in the control of reactivity in veins. By using the classical pharmacological approach of isolated organ bath for tension recordings, associated with biochemical and molecular techniques, the research will test the hypothesis that the ability of peripheral veins to synthesize, uptake and metabolize serotonin controls venous reactivity locally. The investigation of the putative impact of the venous serotonergic system in pathological states such as hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, sepsis, and erectile dysfunction is also part of the present goal in order to offer clues toward explaining abnormal function in these diseases

Mentor: Dr. Aurea Elizabeth Linder, Department of Pharmacology, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina 

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 



  • 2016: Pilot Study: The Effect of Antidepressants and Antihypertensives in the Sexual Preference of Female Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats.  
  • 2015: Uncovering Hypertension. (View MHIRT Symposium Presentation below!)
  • 2014: Effects of Subcutaneous Serotonin on Male Rat Erectile Behavior In vivo.
  • 2013: Effect of Subcutaneous Serotonin Injection on Male Rat Sexual Behavior In vivo.
  • 2011: Food Motivation in Female Rats:The Effect of Antidepressant Medications. 

Project description: 
This laboratory is devoted to understanding how pharmacological substances, such as antidepressants, are able to antagonize behavioral consequences of stress and how these anti-stress properties may be applied to develop new behavioral approaches
applied to preclinical screening of new antidepressant substances.

In this lab the students will have opportunity to learn how to deal with different species of laboratory animals, to perform experiments in behavior and neurochemistry and to analyze different types of data. In addition, they are able to present scientific seminars and participate in the routine data discussion with the group.

Mentor: Dr. Cilene Lino de Oliveira, Laboratory of Behavioral Neurobiology, Department of Physiological Sciences, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2016: Assessing the Quality of the Forced Swimming Test in Animal Studies.
  • 2015: How Good is Your Idea? Conducting a Systematic Review on the Efficacy of Antidepressants in the Forced Swimming Test.  
  • 2013: A Translational Rodent Assay of Affective Biases in Depression and Antidepressant Therapy: A Protocol Replication.

SAO PAULO (4 sites):


Project descriptions: a) Retinal effects of intravitreal acyclovir in rabbits: acyclovir is an antiviral drug used in the treatment of infections caused by herpes virus. Ocular infections by this virus can lead to complete blindness within days and therefore it is crucial that the drug reaches the retina quickly. This project intends to evaluate the safety of intravitreal injections of acyclovir. b) Density and distribution of UV cones in the goldfish: many species of fish are able to see in the ultraviolet range due to the presence of a UV cone in their retinas. In some species, this ability is lost in adult animals, because the UV cones stop expressing UV opsins and become S-cones. It is unclear whether this is the case in the goldfish. This project involves studying the distribution of UV cones in fish of different ages, to see whether they tend to disappear in older animals. c) Identification of post-synaptic partners of mixed-input bipolar cells: in the fish retina, rod signals reach the inner retina through mixed-input bipolar cells, which are neurons that contact both rods and cones. The post-synaptic partners of these cells are however not known. The goal of this project is to identify which neurons are post-synaptic to mixed-input bipolar cells. 

Mentor: Dr. Christina Joselevitch, Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Universidade de São Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: An Immunocytochemical Study of Neuronal Populations in the Goldfish and Mouse. 
  • 2014: The use of Multifocal Electroretinogram Response Dynamics on Diabetic Retinopathy.
  • 2013: A Survey of Amacrine Cell Types in the Goldfish Retina.
  • 2012: Morphological Evaluation of the Ganglion Cell Layer in the Rabbit Retina.


Project Description: Basic research on neurotransmitter receptor expression and function, specifically metabotrophic glutamate receptors expression after injury and cannabinoid receptor expression in the CNS. Techniques used are small animal surgery and immunocytochemistry, microscopy.

Mentor: Dr. Luiz Britto - Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: The Correlation of Cellucar, Molecular, Behavioral, and Neuro-functional Parameters in Parkinson's Disease with Physical Exercise in an 6-OHDA Rat Model.
  • 2015: Expression of TSC1 in Hemiparkinsonian Mouse Brain. 
  • 2014: Expression of TSC1 and TSC2 in Parkinson’s Related Areas of Normal Mouse Brains.
  • 2013: Analyzation of Expression Patterns of Hamartin and Tuberin in Animal Models with High Fat Diets.
  • 2012: Decrease in the Neuroinflammation Markers is Involved in the Beneficial Effects of Exercise in Hemi-Parkinsonians Rats.
  • 2011: Adregenic Receptor Analysis in Postnatal Day 1 Rats Cell Culture in Medulla Oblongata.
  • 2010: Alcohol Effects on Urocortin (UCN) and consumptive Behaviors in the Rock Dove, Columba livia.

Project Description:
The goal of this work is to analyze the modulatory effect of adenosine receptors on the mRNA and protein nitric oxide synthase (NOS), as well as the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) in cultured cells from the dorsomedial portion of the brain stem. 

Mentor: Dr. Debora R. Fior Chadi - Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Institute of Biosciences, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles: 

  • 2014: Modulation of the System of Carbon Dioxide, Using the Analysis of Heme Oxygenase-2 for the Agonist of the Receptor A2a of Adenosine in Culture Cells from the Medulla and Cerebellum of Rats with Normal Blood Pressure and Spontaneous Hypertension.
  • 2013: Activation of the Adenosine A2α Receptor Modulates Heme-oxygenase-2 in Dorsomedial Medulla Oblongata Cell Cultures.
  • 2011: Effect of adenosine on levels of nitric oxide: Cellular mechanisms important for the development of hypertension.

Site #4

Project Description: Focuses on three major groups of vision-threatening conditions: 1. Diseases following long-term exposure to neuro-toxic drugs and/or substances (e.g., intoxication by organic solvents such as toluene and various forms of mercury-intoxication); 2. Diseases resulting from the interaction between genetic and environmental components (e.g., diabetes and multiple sclerosis); 3. Well-known genetic diseases (Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy).

Mentor: Dr. Dora Selma Fix Ventura, Department of Experimental Psychology, Institute of Psychology, University of Sao Paulo

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: Short Dark Adaptation Protocol in Controls and in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Patients.
  • 2015: ​​Study of the Melanopsin Gene Expression in Diurnal and Nocturnal Snakes.
  • 2014: Genetic analysis, CAD Tests, and CCT Yield the Same Result for Colorblind Classifications.
  • 2013: The Anatomical, Functional, and Electrophysiological Evaluation of the Visual System in Albinism Carriers: A Clinical and Laboratory Study.
  • 2012: Association Study of Color Vision Deficits with Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms for Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy in Type 1 & 2 Diabetics.
  • 2011: Vision as a sensitive indicator of conditions threatening retinal and central nervous system function. 


Note: Working profiency in Spanish is required for this site.

Project Description: Global Health Practicum and Internship with AMOS Health & Hope. Each summer, AMOS Health & Hope, a non-profit with 50 years of collective experience implementing successful public health programs in Nicaragua, offers highly-motivated students the chance to participate in a Global Health Practicum and Internship that aims to empower a socially conscious generation of public health workers. Fostering a critical analysis of international health development and social theories of power and privilege, the Practicum examines current models and methodologies for improving health in low-resource settings and combines the best of classroom and hands-on experience to take students’ knowledge of public health and community empowerment to the next level. Students have the option to focus their fieldwork project in specific project areas, such as: Maternal and Child Health, Women’s Empowerment, Youth Empowerment, Nutrition, Clean Water Programs, and Urban Health Care.

Mentors: Dr. Renee Kusler and Desiree Sanabria - AMOS Health and Hope, Managua, Nicaragua 

Recent MHIRT Project Titles:

  • 2016: Maternal and Child Health in La Danta, La RACCS, Nicaragua: Promotion of Prenatal Care and Madres Voluntarias.

TRINIDAD: Currently Unavailable


Project description: This study aims to evaluate the factors that contribute to the regionally distinct healthcare experiences in hopes of promoting the development of future health initiatives that are meaningful, practical, and community-informed.

Mentor: Innette Cambridge, Heather Jamerson, and Julia Hanebrink 

Recent Project Titles:

  • 2015: Needs Assessment of Disability Service Providers within the San Fernando Region of Trinidad and Tobago. 



Project description: This study aims to evaluate the factors that contribute to the regionally distinct healthcare experiences in hopes of promoting the development of future health initiatives that are meaningful, practical, and community-informed.

Mentor: Julia Hanebrink

Recent Project Titles:

  • 2016: Unearthing Justice: Forensic Science as a tool for Transitional Justice in Northern Uganda.
  • 2013: Assessing Sexual- and Gender-Based Violence: Participatory Action Research in Northern Uganda.
  • 2012: Navigating Structural Violence in Uganda's Public Healthcare System: Personal Health Seeking Behaviors as Political Acts Among Communities in Eastern and Northern Uganda.
  • 2011: Medical Pluralism in Uganda: Health Seeking Behaviors and Healthcare Perspectives.
  • 2009: The Art of Healing: The Efficacious Use of Art Therapy with Former Child Soldiers in Northern Uganda. 


Project descriptionThis multi-year study explores the performance of a community-based health insurance (CBHI) organization in Southwestern Uganda and focuses on the potential of CBHI to increase access to healthcare for historically disadvantaged groups. CBHI shows promise as a viable option to provide sustainable access to higher quality healthcare for Ugandans, yet struggles to achieve significant levels of population coverage. This phase of the study will examine household and community retention, in combination with CBHI expansion, to more effectively manage healthcare costs for groups. This study aims to evaluate factors of context, income, cost-recovery, prevention, education, and behavior with hopes of promoting the development of operationally important and community-informed insights on CBHI initiatives that promote disease prevention and increase access to quality healthcare.

Mentors: Susannah Acuff, Julia Hanebrink, and Kakunta Daniel

Recent Project Titles

  • 2015: A Needs Assessment of Akashanda Health Center.
  • 2014: Customer Satisfaction and Household Retention in Community-Based Health Financing in Uganda: An Analysis of Ishaka Health Plan.
  • 2013: Insights and Challenges of Community-Based Health Insurance/Financing in Uganda: A Case Study on the Ishaka Health Plan.
  • 2010: Vouchers Sold Here: Understanding Access to Health Care in Uganda.
  • 2009: Health-Seeking Behaviors and Healthcare Perspectives in Rural Southwest Uganda.


Project descriptionCommunity health research with the Kigezi Healthcare Foundation (KIHEFO). KIHEFO is a local not-for-profit; non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to community development in Kabale District, located in Kigezi Region, southwest Uganda. KIHEFO operates a general Clinic, Dental clinic, HIV/AIDS Clinic, and a child Nutrition and Rehabilitation Center. Services address a diverse array of community needs including medical care, education, economic development, and counseling.

Mentors: Kara Miller, Julia Hanebrink, and Dr. Anguyo Geoffrey.

Recent Project Titles

  • 2016: Cervical Cancer Prevalence, Knowledge, and Attitudes in Kabale, Uganda.

PALLISA: Currently Unavailable

Project description: Basic health needs assessment in Palisa District. Conduct interviews with community members and healthcare providers regarding health needs and health-seeking behaviors.

Mentor: Dustin M. James

Recent Project Titles:

  • 2012: Providing Healthcare in Pallisa, Uganda: Biomedical and Indigenous Perspectives.
  • 2010: Health Perceptions and Barriers to Care in Pallisa District, Uganda.