Program preps students from underrepresented minorities for field research

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Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently welcomed 10 new fellows into the Multidisciplinary International Research Training (MIRT) program. MIRT is a national program aimed at encouraging students who are members of underrepresented minority groups to pursue careers in biomedical and behavioral science research and it provides placement and funding for summer international field experiences.

The Harvard Chan School’s MIRT program hosted an orientation program for the new fellows in late spring before they headed off on their 8–12 week field placements. The participants learned about how to conduct epidemiologic research, as well as how to stay safe and healthy while traveling. Placements are with academic institutions throughout the world in countries including Zimbabwe, Vietnam, Republic of Georgia, Peru, and Australia.

Sequoya Simonam, a junior at North Carolina Central University majoring in biology, will work in New Zealand. Prior to entering college, Simonam served in the U.S. Army as an environmental health specialist. In the MIRT program, she hopes to explore links between environmental factors and heritable disease development affecting minorities.

Stephanie Martinez, a junior at Mercy College majoring in health sciences, plans to become a dentist and ultimately serve with an international non-profit helping underserved communities. She said, “Through the Harvard MIRT program I will be able to witness firsthand the health disparities at a global level and learn how to become part of a solution.”