Category Archives: Uncategorized

2013 NIH-NIDDK STEP-UP (Short Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons) Program Highlight

calebOn behalf of the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology, John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, we congratulate Caleb Perez, a senior at Kapolei High School, who participated in the 2013 NIH-NIDDK STEP-UP (Short Term Research Experience for Underrepresented Persons) summer program for his excellent and recognized achievement on his research project. His summer research culminated in the presentation of his findings at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The title of his research project was, “ West Nile Virus NS4B Protein Plays Integral Role in Virulence Highlighting its Potential for Vaccine Development,” under Dr. Pakieli H. Kaufusi and Dr. Vivek R. Nerurkar. The oral presentations were judged based on seven categories – the statement of problem/hypothesis, methods and controls/comparisons, results, conclusion and future work, knowledge of the project, handling of questions, and the overall clarity of the presentation, for which Mr. Perez received PERFECT SCORE of 5 in all categories. Mr. Perez is currently continuing as a volunteer student with Dr. Kaufusi and Dr. Nerurkar at the John A. Burns School of Medicine.

Global Health Fellows Program Announcement

We are now accepting applications for our 11-month Global Health Fellowship funded by the NIH Fogarty Center. The purpose of this Fellowship is to provide mentored research training to qualified US & International post-doctoral trainees at one of seven international partner institutions with robust clinical research programs in Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Peru, Thailand or China. The Fellowship will begin with an orientation at NIH in July 2014 and will cover all travel expenses, a stipend, and a generous research fund.

 Additional information is available at: or via Nicole Hobbs (

Applications are due: 5:00 p.m. PST January 4, 2014

Global Health Fellows Program.pdf

University Of Hawaii – Contact

Dr. Vivek R Nerurkar


Tropical Medicine Students and Alumni Participate in the 21st Annual Principles of STD/HIV Research Course

Several Tropical Medicine graduate students and alumni participated in the 21st Annual Principles of Sexually Transmitted Disease/HIV Research Course held on July 22-August 1, 2013 at the University of Washington in Seattle.  Samuel Tassi Yunga and Obadia Kenji Mfuh are Fogarty trainees from Cameroon.  Anna Babakhanyan, a Global Health fellow, and Yeung Tutterrow, a postdoctoral fellow  at the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), Seattle, are Tropical Medicine graduates.  The STD/HIV course provided an intensive overview of behavioral, pathogenesis, clinical, epidemiologic, statistical, and operational research in STD/HIV. It featured participants from over 20 different countries and faculty who are international leaders in their fields of

From left to right:  Obadia Kenji Mfuh, Yeung Tutterrow, Anna Babakhanyan, and Samuel Tassi Yunga

Anna Babkhanyan completes PhD Degree in Tropical Medicine in June 2013

Anna Babakhanyan, a Tropical Medicine PhD student, successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Antibody Response to VAR2CSA in Pregnant Cameroonian
Women” on June 17, 2013.  Her research helped identify immune responses that correlate with clearance of Plasmodium falciparum – infected erythrocytes from the placenta, used the results to develop statistical models for predicting a woman’s immune status, and evaluated the influence of malarial Annachemoprophylaxis during pregnancy on acquisition and retention of immunity to placental malaria.

   Anna has received numerous honors for her research including a travel award from the American Society for Microbiology, Hawaii Chapter and a nomination for the Young Investigator Award by the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.  She will be a recipient of the Joseph E. Alicata Memorial Award in Tropical Medicine for 2013.  Anna has been selected as a Fogarty Global Health Fellow and will begin a project in August 2013 studying HIV and placental malaria co-infection at the Biotechnology Centre of the University of Yaounde 1 in Cameroon.

Joseph E. Alicata Award in Tropical Medicine

Alicata Award 2013The Joseph E. Alicata Award was established in 1981 by Dr. Joseph Alicata and Mrs. Earleen Alicata to encourage the study of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases and to reward outstanding scholastic achievement by graduate students in this field of study. It commemorates the lifetime achievements of Dr. Alicata in parasitology and public health as a professor at the University of Hawaii and a commissioned officer of the US Public Health Service. Recipients of the 2013 Alicata Award are PhD graduates Anna Babakhanyan (mentor: Diane Taylor) and Mukesh Kumar (mentor: Vivek Nerurkar).  JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges presented the award to the recipients on July 2, 2013.

University of Hawai’i at Manoa 102nd Annual Commencement Exercises

IMG_1473Mukesh Kumar, B.V.Sc., M.S., Ph.D. was awarded doctorate degree and Madhuri Namekar, M.Sc., M.S. was awarded master’s degree on May 11, 2013 at the UHM 102nd Annual Commencement Exercises. Dr. Kumar’s dissertation thesis focused on “Diabetes as a risk factor for West Nile virus-associated encephalitis and Ms. Namekar’s dissertation thesis focused on “Development, optimization and validation of microsphere based Luminex assays for identification of West Nile virus and dengue virus infections”.

Photo:  Madhuri Namekar, Vivek R Nerurkar (Thesis Advisor), Mukesh Kumar

Kelsey Roe Receives Ellen M. Koenig Award in Medicine

Kelsey Roe, a second year Ph.D student at the Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and pharmacology, JABSOM has received the Ellen M. Koenig Award in Medicine for work on West Nile virus (WNV) neuropathogenesis. Roe was selected as the `Achievement Rewards for College Scientists (ARCS) scholar of the medicine’ and along with 11 ARCS scholars from other UH departments, was honored at the recent ARC-Honolulu chapter banquet. ARCS is a nonprofit, volunteer organization that supports meeting the national need for scientists and engineers by providing awards to academically outstanding students who are U.S. citizens. The award carries a $5,000 prize.


Roe is a PhD student in Dr. Saguna Verma’s laboratory and in her recently published work in the Journal of General Virology, she proposed that WNV initially enters the CNS without altering the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and later virus replication in the brain initiates BBB disruption, allowing unrestricted entry of leukocytes and a second wave of WNV into the CNS. This is the first study of its kind and challenges the paradigm that BBB disruption is the primary route of WNV – CNS entry. She has presented this work in several scientific meetings and has received `Second prize’ for the oral presentation at the annual meeting of American Society of Microbiology-Hawaii chapter. Her interests, besides research, are hiking, playing flute and beading.

For More:

New Research laboratory, Biomedical Research Program Established at College of Micronesia



George Hui, (808) 692-1609
Researcher, John A. Burns School of Medicine
Tina Shelton, (808) 692-0897
Communications Director, John A. Burns School of Medicine

STEP-UP students introduced to the new laboratory. STEP-UP students introduced to the new laboratory.

With help from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, the College of Micronesia has opened a new biomedical research laboratory in the agriculture building on the college’s national campus at Palikir, Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Custom Multiplex Assay Design Workshop

Charles Martin, Ph.D., Luminex Sr. Manager of Market Development, will present a two hour  “Custom Multiplex Assay Design Workshop” from 9:30-11:30 am on May 8, 2013 in MEB 304.

Please RSVP Casey Chinn at 512-850-8084,, if you wish to attend.

Abstracts due for Biomedical Sciences & Health Disparities Symposium

LAST CALL FOR ABSTRACTS Deadline – March 15th
Biomedical Sciences & Health Disparities Symposium
April 8-9, 2013
John A. Burns School of Medicine
Medical Education Building Lobby Area

Poster presentations, Robert T. Wong, MD Endowed Lecture, Miyawaki Trainee in Neuroscience Award

April 8th 2 sessions. 9:00-11:30am and 12:30-3:00pm
Graduate Students, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Research Associates, Undergraduates

April 9th 9:00-11:30am
Faculty, Resident Physicians, Medical Students, Post-Doctoral Fellows, Researchers

For more information contact:
Lyn Hamamura, Program Administrator
phone (808) 692-1514, e-mail: