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Student International Research Opportunities Receive New Funding


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Posted: 6/1/2009

Opportunities to experience research training abroad will remain available to students at the Johns Hopkins University and other academic institutions through continuation of a Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing Minority Global Health Disparities Research Training (MHIRT) Program is led by Fannie Gaston-Johansson, PhD, RN, FAAN, the principal investigator for the Global Health Promotion Research Program funded through the MHIRT award.  The program offers students opportunities during the summer to learn research skills from faculty mentors in South Africa, Sweden, Australia, and South Korea. 

The new $1.1 million+ funding–which extends the program through 2014–brings the total MHIRT dollars devoted to student international research experiences to over $3 million since 2000.  The grants are awarded as part of a long-term NIH strategy to establish a cadre of biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social science researchers that understand health disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States.

“This program has demonstrated proven value to the research community for nearly 10 years, says Dr. Fannie Gaston-Johansson. Gaston-Johansson,” who also is a professor and the Elsie M. Lawler Endowed Chair in Research at the School of Nursing, added, “The most important benefit, however, is that these opportunities help students interested in research careers discover extraordinary possibilitiesthe experience changes their lives, so they can in turn work to change the world.”  Gaston-Johansson also noted another valuable asset to the MHIRT program is the participating Hopkins Nursing faculty:  Dr. Phyllis Sharps, who is co-investigator of the program, Dr. Jacqueline Campbell, Dr. Gayle Page, and Dr. Hae-Ra Han. All have made outstanding contributions to this global endeavor.

The undergraduate, graduate, and health professions students who are chosen for the program are members of populations that experience health care disparities populations and/or are underrepresented in health research career fields.  Each student becomes part of a research team, consisting of the student, a faculty member from JHUSON, and a faculty member from an collaborating institution.  As part of the team, the student spends three months abroad, receiving training and hands-on experience in literature review, data collection, research methodologies, writing results, and attending and presenting at research conferences. 

Since 2000, 85 undergraduate student trainees, 24 graduate student trainees, seven U.S. faculty, and 16 foreign faculty have participated in the program.  International research training activities have been conducted at Tel Aviv University, Israel; University of Manchester, England; University of Newcastle, Australia; Gothenburg University, Sweden; Korean Institute for Health & Social Affairs, South Korea; and in South Africa at the Medical Research Council, Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle Unit; the Medical Research Council, Gender & Health Unit; and University of KwaZulu Natal School of Nursing.