The Cherokee Nation Native American Research Center for Health (Cherokee NARCH) seeks to conduct community-engaged research and scientific workforce enhancement projects capable of addressing the major health issues affecting American Indians in northeastern Oklahoma that are served by Cherokee Nation Health System clinical and public health programs. Cherokee NARCH will accomplish its mission through collaboration with its research-intensive partners, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF), to jointly execute and evaluate these projects.
The aims of the overall Cherokee NARCH program are: 1) to strengthen infrastructure for sustained engagement between the Cherokee Nation and its research intensive-partners, OUHSC and OMRF; 2) to develop a highly collaborative and robust program of scientific research aimed at elucidating and remedying major health disparities affecting the Cherokee Nation; and 3) to grow the scientific workforce by providing enhancement opportunities for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students, tribal employees and other researchers who wish to help the Cherokee Nation or other AI/AN communities address leading causes of excess morbidity and mortality. All projects were developed through iterative consultation and shared decision- making involving tribal representatives, the Cherokee NARCH Leadership Team and Community-Campus Advisory Council, and researchers at Cherokee Nation and OUHSC/OMRF. This process led to the decision to propose research, pilot research, student enhancement and researcher enhancement projects that taken together will help grow genuine tribal research capacity through the development of a cadre of Native investigators who are well-prepared to conduct empirically based, scientific investigation on the major health issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.
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. Cherokee NARCH proposes research, pilot research, student enhancement and researcher enhancement projects that will help the tribe address important health issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives effectively, which is an ambitious, but extremely worthwhile goal.