Compared to the general U.S. population, the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations are young and growing. One-third of the AI/AN population is younger than 18 years. AI/AN young people face health disparities which start in utero and continue into adulthood. AI/AN represent ~1% of the United States population but only 0.3% of physicians and medical school faculty, and 0.05% of the science and engineering workforce. While AI/AN have many educational disadvantages, the American Community Survey reports that 9.6% of the AI/AN population do achieve a bachelor's degree or higher. These are the students - underrepresented and underserved in higher education and in bioscience career fields ? with whom we work to engage though our Native American Research Internship (NARI) program. NARI is a 10-week summer research internship offered through the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah. NARI provides hands-on basic or clinical research opportunities with established scientists, professional skills training, and cultural mentoring from Native elders, faculty, and students. To date, 92 participants representing 38 tribal nations, 32 colleges/universities, and 22 home states, have participated in the program. Of the 92 participants, 22 (24%) are currently undergraduates working towards a science degree, 19 students have been accepted into graduate school (21%), 17 students have been accepted into medical school (18%), and 70 (76%) have completed a bachelor's degree in science. Tribal elders, who have helped us create NARI, have told us that child health is important to the AI/AN community. We propose to expand the existing NARI program to include research experiences and educational training in child health and human development (NARI- NICHD). By supporting AI/AN undergraduates interested in pursuing biomedical careers focused on child health and human development with the proposed NARI-NICHD program, we will increase AI/AN representation and leadership in the biomedical sciences and fulfill our ultimate goal of narrowing the gap of health disparities among children in AI/AN communities.
This proposal seeks to expand the successful holistic University of Utah Native American Research Internship (NARI) program to include summer research experiences in child health and human development (NARI- NICHD). The proposed NARI-NICHD program will pair researchers focused on child health at the University of Utah with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) undergraduates who aspire to help understand why certain health problems affect AI/ANs so disproportionately. The overarching goal of the NARI-NICHD program is to increase the diversity of the U.S. biomedical science workforce and reduce health disparities in the AI/AN population by supporting the scientific development of each undergraduate NARI-NICHD participant.