DPC DaTA awardee Hawai‘i Pacific University receives $750,000 to Develop and Train Students in Biomedical Research

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By Halaevalu Vakalahi, Ph.D., and Payam Sheikhattari, MD, MPH

The DPC Dissemination and Translation Awards (DaTA) are a new initiative that is part of the second phase of the Diversity Program Consortium. Through these projects, which recognize the continued need for leaders from a variety of backgrounds in the biomedical field, Hawai‘i Pacific University (HPU) was awarded $750,000 by the National Institutes of Health for the creation of a student research center. This project draws inspiration from the Student Research Center at Morgan State University, which was developed through the ASCEND program.

The HPU Undergraduate Infrastructure Student Research Center (HUI SRC) is designed to attract, train, and mentor HPU students, particularly those from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM, into biomedical research. The research team lead (Principal Investigator) is the Dean of HPU’s College of Health and Society Halaevalu Vakalahi, Ph.D. The co-Investigators are Scott Okamoto, Ph.D., professor of social work at HPU; David Horgen, Ph.D., head of HPU’s Shared Instrumentation Facility; and Peter Mataira, Ph.D., associate professor of social work at HPU.

The research team will engage faculty mentors in mentoring HUI SRC students in their research and prepare them for graduate school as well as entrance into the workforce while leveraging entrepreneurial research. The HUI SRC is part of a collaborative research study that replicates a model developed and under experimental study by Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, under the leadership of Payam Sheikhattari, M.P.H., M.D., and Farin Kamangar, M.D., Ph.D.

“One of the biggest advantages we have at HPU is our strong support system and sense of community that will help to ensure the success of the HUI SRC,” said Dean Vakalahi. “Our collaboration internally, as well as externally with community and university partners like Kula No Na Po‘e Hawai‘i, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Center, Lt. Gov. Green, and University of Hawai‘i's Department of Native Hawaiian Health, is a strong testament to Hawai‘i’s support and need for this center. Also a huge mahalo to Morgan State University’s ASCEND Center for Biomedical Research and Washington State University REACH, for their partnership.”

So far, the HUI SRC has recruited a group of founding members, elected a student president and co-president, and is working on registering the organization. They are planning to launch their own Health Research Concepts Competition initiative in spring 2021 and are currently interviewing candidates for the program coordinator position. 

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
Need Assistance? Please contact our support team: info@diversityprogramconsortium.org .