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.

Public Health Relevance

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.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Education Projects (R25)
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National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
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Winer, Karen
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University of Utah
Schools of Medicine
Salt Lake City
United States
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