UCSC-Minority Health and Health Disparities International Training Program (MHIRT)

Nature of Research/Program Description: 

For the most updated information on MHIRT, including current availability of sites, visit http://www.creoi.org/mhirt/

Since its inception in 1993 the UCSC-MHIRT (formerly MIRT) has focused on increasing the number of Ph.D. trained biomedical scientists from ethnic minority and under represented backgrounds engaged in basic biomedical research careers in the US and more recently in areas specific to minority health disparity issues. Our approach is to actively engage bright, enthusiastic underrepresented minority students in a variety of exciting, on-going, international, behavioral and biomedically relevant research projects conducted in the both the natural environment and the laboratory in collaboration with students and faculty from the host country.  These challenging and unique research projects combine a rich and stimulating cultural experience with productive and creative scientific research training. The benefit to our students is a broader international scientific and educational perspective, increased self-confidence and independence, plus substantial improvements in technical expertise. We have found that this approach greatly encourages students to pursue advanced scientific training leading to the Ph.D. and has already contributed to the next generation of biomedical scientists and academic faculty.

Interested students can contact Dr. Leo Oritz at clortiz@ucsc.edu

Keywords: off-campus; underrepresented minority; international; biomedical; field research; health disparity; off-campus; all year; fall quarter; winter quarter; spring quarter; summer

Faculty Director: Leo Oritz

Location Details: 
Multiple sites, possibly including Japan, New Zealand, Panama, and Germany
Targeted Students/ Eligibity Requirements: 
  • Preference is placed on students belonging to an ethnic minority including, but not limited to, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, or from medically underserved populations (i.e., socio-economically disadvantaged individuals in rural and urban areas).
  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Preference is placed on juniors, seniors, or recent graduates with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  • Students should have completed at least one year of biology and/or chemistry with laboratory, with extracurricular laboratory experience preferred.
  • Students must demonstrate interest in pursuing a graduate program in scientific research.
  • Students must be available for the minimum time commitment required by the country program of interest. This usually varies between a minimum stay of three to five months, with occasional opportunities to extend the fellowship period. Note that appointments may begin at any time of year.
  • Fellows must possess a positive and flexible attitude, willingness to fully participate in demanding research activities, and enthusiasm to engage in different cultures.
Program Time Period: 
Academic Year
All Year
Winter Quarter
Spring Quarter
Fall Quarter
Academic Credit
Application Deadline: 
Contact program for more information.
Year Began: 
Leo Ortiz
Contact Title: 
Faculty Director
Contact Email: 
Faculty Director: 
Leo Oritz
Faculty Director Email: 
Participant Follow-up: 

UCSC-MHIRT maintains its own database that tracks student progress during and up to 17 years after completion of their international training experience. We are in contact with all but one of our students and many still actively participate in student recruitment and selection. 

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Ecology and Evolution
Environmental Studies
Human Biology
Marine Biology
Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
Plant Sciences