MHIRT Taiwan program trainees conduct research at Kaohsiung Medical University (KMU), located in Taiwan’s southern port city of Kaohsiung. KMU is a major research university attached to the Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital. MHIRT trainees spend eight to ten weeks in research labs located in various different university departments. All research work is conducted in English. Science: The specific lab and research project is chosen by the individual student in consultation with the MHIRT program directors and KMU professors. A new list of available research projects is prepared by KMU staff each year based upon KMU researchers’ ongoing and planned research agendas. Previous projects selected by SDSU MHIRT trainees include:
  • “Anti-melanoma: anti-skin cancer” (mentor: Dr. Hui-min Wang)
  • “Skin-whitening: melanin production” (Dr. Hui-min Wang)
  • “Anti-melanoma drug screening and target protein identifying” (Dr. Hui-min Wang)
  • “Gene polymorphisms of chronic kidney disease” (Dr. Ruei-nian Li)
  • “Cellular gene promoter methylation status in tumor patients” (Dr. Ruei-nian Li)
  • “The effects of electrical stimulation on improving fatigability and drowsiness for drivers” (Dr. Lan-yuen Guo)
  • “The Effect of Different Backpack Carrying Weights and Exercise Training for Elementary-school-aged Children” (Dr. Lan-yuen Guo)
  • “Biomechanical and Neurophysiological Investigation of Mechanical Neck Disorder” (Dr. Lan-yuen Guo)
  • “Quantification of Trunk Position, Efficacy of Different Stabilizing Exercise Aaractive E-Book Intervention for Elementary-School-Aged Children” (Dr. Lan-yuen Guo)
  • “Anti-oral cancer drug screening from natural products” (Dr. Hsueh-wei Chang)
  • “Design, Synthesis, and Biological Evaluation of Anticancer Agents” (Dr. Jeh-Jeng Wang)
  • “Gene analysis by capillary electrophoresis” (Dr. Shou-Mei Wu)
  • “Transcultural study of sleep paralysis” (Dr. Chung-Yao Hsu)
  • “The International Interaction Program of Natural Products and Traditional Chinese Medicine, from Bench to Clinic” (Dr. Fang-rong Chang)
In addition to scientific training, the MHIRT experience in Taiwan includes cultural orientation and training, and one week of touring and introduction to life in Taiwan. Pre-departure, all students are given reading and research assignments into Taiwan’s past, current events, and popular culture. They then write short essays and share the results of their work with their fellow trainees. For many students, this assignment is their first exposure to Taiwanese culture, and they are often excited about it, especially when they find parallels to their own culture or practices that challenge their own conceptions. In addition to taking care of the practicalities, like moving into the dorm, learning how to use the subway and where to shop, the first week in Taiwan is a whirlwind orientation to the history and culture of the island, as well as modern life in the city of Kaohsiung. In Kaohsiung, we visit the night markets (a popular Taiwanese activity), museums, historical sites, and local hotspots. Each year the specific locations are different based on student interest, but commonly include places like an old fort and British consulate (history of colonialism), the Kaohsiung history museum, the Longshan Buddhist temple in Fengshan (religious culture), and the Shoushan nature reserve (home to steep hiking trails and wild monkeys). During the first week the students also learn how to get around Taiwan by train (so that they can later do so on their own time), and we typically travel to the capital city of Taipei and other cities. In Taipei each year we frequently visit the National Palace Museum (perhaps the world’s greatest collection of artifacts of Chinese history), the Aboriginal Culture Museum (highlighting the history and experience of Taiwan’s native peoples), and the Taipei 101 building (formerly the world’s tallest building, a point of pride for Taiwanese, and a center of contemporary consumer culture). We have also visited other local cities like Chiufen (an old mining town and currently a popular local tourist destination), Tamsui (a port city with a history of colonialism), and Tainan (the former capital and cultural center of the island), and Taiwan’s beautiful east coast. The trainee’s time on campus at KMU is also filled with cross-cultural interactions, both inside and outside of the lab. In the lab they learn the culture of scientific research and academic life in Taiwan. Outside of the lab they engage and make friends with local students, interact with professors and medical doctors, and learn to live in a foreign country. One highpoint here is the roundtable discussions of research and biomedical ethics held at the “World Café” events pioneered by Dr. Fredman Lin of KMU and Dr. Dena Plemmons of SDSU. Here they engage with locals as well as other students from many different countries in important questions of ethical conduct of research and clinical practice.   Requirements: Successful applicants are generally third- and fourth-year undergraduates majoring in biology, chemistry, public health, or related fields. Previous laboratory experience is a must, and applicants who have had a mentored laboratory experience outside of normal classroom/coursework requirements will stand out. Due to the revolving nature of research project availability at KMU, specific technical requirements may vary on a project by project basis, but can include scaffolding, PCR, electrophoresis, proficiency in excel and/or database software, and basic techniques like pipetting, etc. NOTE: Only UNDERGRADUATE student applications are currently being accepted for our Taiwan research site.
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