The Aseto?ne Network Project (ANP) is a broad, multi-institutional initiative that will coordinate outreach, educational enrichment, mentoring and exposure to the research enterprise involving students at 37 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center. These activities will establish and promote student interest and engagement in health and biomedical research, building on health-focused programs and initiatives which the TCUs currently offer or are involved with. The project will create a network of professional researchers, faculty and students involved in activities that develop and support student academic and research- specific skills and interests, and inspire students to pursue a career as a health sciences researcher. In the Cheyenne language Aseto?ne denotes the concepts of growth and taking first steps. Thus, our project will provide the necessary steps and support infrastructure to support Native students pursuing research careers and participating in building a brighter future for their communities. AIHEC (PI Billy) provides leadership and influences public policy on American Indian higher education issues through advocacy, research, and program initiatives; promotes and strengthens Indigenous languages, cultures, communities, and tribal nations. AIHEC supports its 37 TCU membership through a wide range of technical assistance services, including dissemination of important and timely information, on which these institutions and their students rely. The Aseto?ne project will complement AIHEC?s Behavioral Health Research Network (BHRN) project, funded by the Native American Research Centers in Health (NARCH) program to provide an effective and sustainable mechanism through which all 37 TCUs can participate in research addressing behavioral health issues affecting their local communities, develop the capacity of their faculty and students to conduct research, and develop and enhance their education programs to help prepare their students for careers in health and health services research. The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) has a long history of partnering with the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen?s Health Board. In fact it is that long history that has facilitated the now decade long educational outreach through the Science Education Partnership Award to schools and communities on Indian reservations in Nebraska and South Dakota (PI Godfrey). The proposed project builds on the relationships established by UNMC with Native communities in the Plains with this new and sustained partnership with TCUs and AIHEC.
Improving the health of Native Americans will require Native practitioners and researchers. This project establishes the infrastructure to stimulate interest in critical areas of biomedical research. Participants in this program will be prepared to continue their education and lay the foundation for a healthier population. An additional benefit of the Aseto?ne network, the engagement of Native students into research careers may impact the attainment of the National Institutes of Health goals of Health People 2020.