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OMHHE Past Program Summaries ~ 2011

Project IMHOTEP

The History of Project: IMHOTEP Internship Program


Project: IMHOTEP began in 1981 under the auspices of an Atlanta University Center (AUC) faculty steering committee. Over the past twenty-four (24) years, nearly 400 students, representing ninety-four different institutions of higher learning, have participated in the program. Interns have been drawn from various underrepresented minority ethnic groups, including African American, Hispanic/Latin American, and Native American, and have come from various regions of the U.S., Caribbean, U.S. Virgin Islands, and East Africa. Interns have been placed at institutions domestically (Alaska, California, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington) and internationally (Tanzania, East Africa and Oaxaca, Mexico). In the summer of 2004 and 2005, respectively, PHSI placed its first interns with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania, East Africa and Mexico Negro in Oaxaca, Mexico.

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The Program


Project: IMHOTEP is an eleven-week internship designed to increase the knowledge and skills of rising juniors and seniors and recent graduates of an undergraduate institution in biostatistics, epidemiology, and occupational safety and health. The program begins with two weeks of intense educational training. The purpose of this training is to equip interns with the academic coursework and information necessary to complete the program. During the remaining nine weeks, interns conduct public health research with experts at the CDC, NIMR, Mexico Negro, and various other public health agencies.

Since the inception of Project: IMHOTEP, interns have been placed in various centers, institutes, and offices (CIOs) within the CDC and various domestic and international agencies.

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Project: IMHOTEP Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders & Asian Americans Scholarship

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided four scholarships to qualified Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Southeast Asian and other underrepresented Asian American undergraduates (juniors and seniors) and recent graduates (class of 2010) for the Project: IMHOTEP internship program for summer of 2011. APIAHF is working with community partners to promote Project: IMHOTEP as part of their efforts to increase the number of NHPI, and Southeast Asian public health and health care professionals.

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Morehouse Synergy


May 23, 2011 marked the beginning of a formal collaboration between Morehouse College Project IMHOTEP and Morehouse School of Medicine Public Health Summer Fellows Program (PHSFP). Project IMHOTEP was originally developed in 1982 to train African American undergraduate students in public health areas of biostatistics and epidemiology, eventually broadening its focus to include an occupational safety and health component in 1994. The PHSFP, established in 1987, soon followed with its program centered on community-based public health practice. Both programs are funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and represent a combined effort to enhance and expand minority presence in the field of public health. The mission of these pipeline programs is to encourage and prepare minority undergraduate and post baccalaureate students for graduate training such that they ultimately pursue careers in public health. The programs filled an important role, as research has demonstrated that minority researchers and practitioners are more likely to serve minority populations. The CDC was committed to creating a cadre of minority students who would become engaged in public health and who could help to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities. Each program has had great success. To date, 530 students from Project IMHOTEP and 336 from PHSFP have gone on to receive graduate degrees and employment in the field of public health!

While each program had a specific area of interest for students, it was hard not to recognize the overwhelming similarities in the two programs. It was a natural fit to combine their financial and personnel resources to initiate this new alliance. Two important factors aided in this decision. The first is an ongoing supportive relationship, fueled by a mutual mission of both training programs, which has always existed. The second, but the most important factor that has sustained both programs, since their inception in the 1980s, has been the spotlight on the student achievement.

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Highlights of Each Program's Components


The PHSFP is a collaborative agreement among the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, and the CDC. Each partner shares in the recruitment and selection of the diverse group of students who participate in the program. Faculty and staff of the three entities serve as teachers, mentors, supervisors, and evaluators. Academic training is provided in the form of an intensive, introductory epidemiology and public health course, which is offered for graduate credit at MSM. Fellows are exposed to a practicum experience involving community-based public health research and projects, field trips, and seminars and discussion group sessions on current public health topics as well as career and professional development seminars. A symposium at the completion of the Fellowship allows each Fellow to present his/her project.

Project IMHOTEP students can explore the numerous public health career opportunities available in addition to epidemiology, biostatistics, and occupational safety and health through this program. This is enhanced by the ability to be placed in other public health practice sites such as industry, non-federal and federal, state, and local health agencies. The program is unique in that it provides an unparalleled training and research experience for participants in epidemiological methodologies, basic statistical programming (SAS), and technical writing in addition to the processing, analysis, and presentation of relevant public health data through the study of existing data sets and laboratory experience in various CDC centers, institutes, and offices. Students are matched with research scientists at the CDC and other agencies/institutions to work on specific projects involving important public health issues. The CDC and other public health practitioners serve as preceptors, who guide interns through their research projects as well as their written scientific paper and oral presentation. The program also includes a seminar series where public health professionals speak to the students on various public health topics.

The new alliance-Project IMHOTEP Public Health Summer Fellowship-provides students with a strong research foundation, as well as exposure to applied public health by incorporating the fundamental elements of each program into one dynamic Fellowship. The curriculum is well-planned and exposes students to various environments and learning experiences in the public health field. It also offers guidance for professional development. Students excel during their public health internships by working side-by-side with mentors in the field who are at the forefront in researching some of the nation's most pressing health issues, and who are engaged in applying best practices to populations most in need. This invaluable training experience provides students the opportunity to increase their potential for becoming candidates of graduate programs and to become successful health research professionals in public health.

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