NIDDK’s Short-Term Education Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP) celebrated the opening of its Molecular Biology Lab in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) in a recent ceremony. The audience included the eight Micronesian students accepted to this summer’s STEP-UP training, their friends and relatives and staff from the Pohnpei board of education.
STEP-UP provides research opportunities for students from groups underrepresented in biomedical research, including students with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain racial and ethnic minorities such as Pacific Islanders. The facility is the fourth STEP-UP lab to be built in a U.S.-administered or affiliated territory of the Pacific region. The other labs are located in American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Republic of the Marshall Islands. The program will establish its fifth and last planned lab in Republic of Palau.
“Students in the Pacific region often live thousands of miles away from facilities that can support cutting-edge research,” said Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, director of NIDDK’s Office of Minority Health Research Coordination, which manages the STEP-UP program. “By providing laboratories and training local science teachers as mentors, we expose students to the newest biomedical research techniques without them needing to travel far from home.”
As part of STEP-UP, students work over the summer at one of several NIDDK-funded labs in the United States and its territories, including the new lab in Pohnpei. Most of the students participating in the program present their research at NIH at the end of the summer program.
“We are excited to welcome students in Pohnpei and in all our labs this summer,” said Agodoa. “Our hope is that the experience will encourage many to pursue biomedical research as a career.”—Krysten Carrera
The eight students from FSM selected to participate in STEP-UP pose with various community leaders, including U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Michael A. “Miguel” Ordoñez (rear, third from l) and Dr. Lawrence Agodoa, director of NIDDK’s Office of Minority Health Research Coordination (rear, third from r).
Photo: Danielle Clement