By Talia Ogliore
With help from the University of Hawai`i Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM), the College of Micronesia has opened a new research laboratory at the Agriculture building on the college’s national campus at Palikir, Pohnpei, in the Federal States of Micronesia.
The new research facility, which opened on April 30, is the fourth such training laboratory established under the Pacific Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) program administered by the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. A similar facility was established at the College of the Marshall Islands in May 2012.
“The research training program we are rolling out is unprecedented in most of our target communities across the Pacific, where biomedical research infrastructure and health research education are largely nonexistent,” said Dr. George Hui, director of the Pacific STEP-UP program and a researcher in the department of Tropical Medicine and Medical Microbiology at JABSOM. “It is essential to diversify the biomedical and health care workforce with research scientists who are culturally competent and responsive to the social needs of underrepresented persons.”
Four College of Micronesia undergraduates and four students from local public high schools across Micronesia were selected to take part in this year’s Pacific STEP-UP Summer Research program at the new facility.
“The range of research opportunities and the quality of research outcomes will be vastly improved through the establishment of this exceptional laboratory,” said College of Micronesia President Joseph M. Daisy, who offered introductory remarks at the grand opening event attended by representatives from the U.S. Embassy for the Federated States of Micronesia and the National Institutes of Health, among other guests. “We are grateful for the extraordinary generosity and donation of equipment by the STEP-UP Program, without which this new research lab would not be possible.”
The Pacific STEP-UP Program encompasses the State of Hawai‘i; the US-affiliated (flagged) territories of American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands; and the US-associated (non-flagged) territories that include the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Future Pacific STEP-UP research laboratory facilities are planned for Palau.
About the STEP-UP Program (https://stepup.niddk.nih.gov/)
The Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) is a federally-funded program managed and supported by the Office of Minority Health Research Coordination (OMHRC) in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health. The overall goal ofSTEP-UP is to build and sustain a biomedical, behavioral, clinical and social science research pipeline focused on NIDDK mission areas.
Our featured image at the top of this story shows the Micronesia students exploring their new laboratory.