NAU Awarded $6 Million To Lead American Indian Health Research


The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities has awarded a $6 million grant to create a Center for American Indian Resilience (CAIR) at Northern Arizona University (NAU).

The five-year project will create partnerships among health researchers and tribal communities to identify, research, and teach approaches that take advantage of long-standing Native American cultural practices that promote health.

Priscilla Sanderson, NAU Assistant Professor of Health Sciences and Applied Indigenous Studies and a member of the Navajo Nation, and Nicolette Teufel-Shone, University of Arizona Associate Professor of Public Health, will lead the new center.

American Indian health research
Dr. Priscilla Sanderson

 “CAIR research will deepen our scientific knowledge of existing positive health outcomes in tribal communities, and then we will translate this knowledge to practice through public health education and policy," said Sanderson. According to Sanderson, resilience entails the positive traits and personal strategies that allow even those with difficult health conditions to persevere.  “We want to find out how to build the skills to endure hardship and improve the ability to cope,” she said.

A summer research enhancement program at Diné College will train high school and college students about resilience models and research tools, with the involvement of community mentors. “We’re trying to encourage young Native Americans to get a college education and become researchers or go into health professions,” Sanderson said. “We hope they will go home to the reservation and implement these strategies.”

--Adapted from “Inside NAU"