South African Students Learn the Ropes from MU Researchers

Kerwin Liedeman and Palesa Makoti

The MU School of Medicine offers internship opportunities for visiting international and domestic students interested in health careers. Through partnerships with the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, two international students are spending their summer interning under the guidance of MU medical school faculty. Seventeen international students have participated in the program since its launch in 2012.

Kerwin Liedeman, a student from the University of the Western Cape, is studying with Mark Daniels, PhD, associate professor of molecular microbiology and immunology. Part of their research is geared toward better understanding the effects specific gene editing has on the development of various types of cells, including cancer cells.

Kerwin Liedeman and Palesa Makoti
Kerwin Liedeman and Palesa Makoti

“Shadowing others in the medical school, gaining clinical experience and handling samples are all unique opportunities here that I am looking forward to,” Kerwin said. “Seeing firsthand how people do things differently will make me a more well-rounded scientist by being exposed to different concepts and collaborating with other departments.”

Palesa Makoti, also a student from the University of the Western Cape, is working with Donald Burke, PhD, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology and joint professor of biochemistry. Her research focuses on developing molecules to fight against harmful viruses such as HIV and Ebola.

“Having some background knowledge in molecular biology, cell biology and virology has helped, but I am still learning new things and new techniques every day,” she said.

In addition to MU’s international guests, the medical school also offers internship opportunities for undergraduate students in the United States. The Summer Research Internship in Medical Sciences began in 2011 with the goal of recruiting more underrepresented students to the MU School of Medicine.