The most evident case of disparities in the US is in health care outcomes where disadvantaged minorities have disproportionately high morbidity and mortality in almost all categories of chronic diseases. A major contributing factor to health disparities is the gross under-representation of minorities in biomedical and public health research. Increasing the number of minority scientists actively involved in health-disparities -diseases-related research may contribute to reducing, and indeed, eliminating health disparities.
The Elizabeth City State University's Minority Health and Health Disparities Minority International Research Training (E-MHIRT) Program provides opportunities for minority students, most of who come from the rather impoverished part of North Carolina, to gain valuable international biomedical/public health research experience under the tutelage of prominent African scientists in southern Africa. Selected honor students majoring in biology, chemistry, psychology, sociology and social work will spend 10 summer weeks receiving research training. In addition, they will be introduced to the languages and cultural norms of the people there, thus broadening their horizons. We have established research collaboration with scientists involved in drug discovery and diabetes research at the Universities of Botswana and Zululand.
The E-MHIRT Program will provide international research training opportunities in 2 specific areas of interest in combating health disparities in the USA and other parts of the world. Part I is Drug Discovery with a goal of introducing new treatment modalities derived from Africa's rich traditional medical practice for such health-disparities diseases as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, prostate cancer and HIV/AIDS all of which disproportionately affect minorities, through targeting a critical enzyme (protein) common to these diseases. Part II is a Survey of Risk Factors for High Blood Glucose in Botswana for comparison