The Cherokee Native American Research Center for Health continues the productive research training and capacity-building partnership between the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) and the Cherokee Nation. This specific proposal is a product of intense consultation between the Cherokee Nation and OUHSC, which has resulted in the final structure of Cherokee NARCH and the final roster of projects. Initial conversations, including conferences and in-person meetings, between the key troibal and university stakeholders focused on the identification of priorities for the Cherokee Nation. The group agreed to use its Community-Campus Advisory Counsel to establish the selection criteria for the highest priority projects. These were required to have the following elements, in order of priority: acceptable to the Cherokee Nation and focused on the priority area for tribal leadership, relevant to health disparities in the American Indian population in our setting, and consistent with tribal research agendas and priorities. Selected projects had to be judged as being scientifically sound and potentially NIH-fundable and equally importantly, have the potential to build trust. This strategy allowed Cherokee Nation to exercise its sovereign right to participate in capacity development, faculty development and research projects deemed most relevant by the tribe. The plan set forth in this application will advance these priorities through four interconnected aims: 1) To develop a collaborative and productive partnership, grounded in a foundation of mutual trust and respect, for prioritizing and advancing research involving the Cherokee Nation, OUHSC and other tribal partners in our state; 2)To establish robust research-oriented, capacity building and faculty enhancement programs that will establish a cadre of American Indian/Alaska Native scientists and health professionals who are meaningfully engaged in reducing tribal health disparities; 3) To conduct collaborative tribal-academic studies aimed at elucidating and remedying American Indian/Alaska Native health disparities; and 4) To coordinate Cherokee NARCH activities with those of our other collaborative NIH awards to identify synergies between projects.
American Indians in Oklahoma have higher mortality rates for a variety of conditions, including liver disease, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and several types of cancer that far surpass national rates. Cherokee NARCH is based on the understanding that persistence of health disparities in AI/AN populations and the paucity of minority biomedical scientists cannot be solved without the collective efforts of stakeholders who are prepared to collaboratively build enduring tribal-academic research capacity.