Changing Environment & Human Health
Title: Center for Alaska Native Health Research - Progress update (pdf)
Summary of Activity
The Center for Alaska Native Health Research (CANHR) was established in 2001 through a five-year grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. CANHR’s overall goal is to achieve a permanent and sustainable research center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks with the primary theme of investigating obesity and chronic disease-related risk and protective factors. CANHR is developing unique biomedical knowledge and translating it into research for the prevention and reduction of health disparities among Alaska Natives. In 2007 the NIH renewed the center’s grant for $11 million for another five years to build on CANHR’s research findings on obesity and its relationship to diabetes and cardiovascular disease among Alaska Natives. To build a collaborative research presence in Alaska Native communities, three themes guide CANHR researchers.
- Prevention and reduction of health disparities: CANHR seeks new knowledge through basic and applied research that can ultimately be applied to understand, prevent and reduce health disparities in indigenous communities.
- Cultural processes awareness: The center’s researchers study how cultural variables influence the understanding of disease expression in Alaska Natives so that research findings and intervention are valid and culturally appropriate.
- Community-based participatory research methods: CANHR researchers work closely with and take significant direction from indigenous communities. Tribal community members become co-researchers.
In summary, the Center for Alaska Native Health Research embraces a model for research that is collaborative. At every stage of the research, faculty and staff work with tribal groups and health care agencies to frame research questions, develop methodologies and procedures, and to interpret and apply data to prevention and treatment.
As part of the IPY, CANHR currently provides support for several research projects, four of which are funded by NIH/NCRR COBRE grant P20 RR016430 (Gerald V. Mohatt, PI), and six NIH-funded independent investigator projects. These projects and their principle investigators are as follows.
- Yup’ik Perceptions of Body Weight and Diabetes: Cultural Pathways to Prevention (Andrea Bersamin, project leader)
- Developing a Novel Set of Diet Pattern Biomarkers, Based on Stable Isotope Ratios (Diane O’Brien, project leader)
- Contaminants and Nutrients in Alaskan Subsistence Foods: Striking a Balance (Todd M. O’Hara, project leader)
- Yup’ik Experiences of Stress and Coping: Intervention via Cultural Understanding (Inna Rivkin, project leader)
Independent Investigator Projects:
- The Genetics of Obesity in Yup’ik Eskimos (Bert B. Boyer, PI)
- Health Promotion in a Yup’ik Community: Improving Health Through Collaboration (Cécile S. Lardon, PI)
- Elluam Tungiinun – Toward Wellness (James R. Allen, PI)
- Ellangneq- Awareness (Gerald V. Mohatt, PI)
- People Awakening Resilience Program (Gerald V. Mohatt, PI)
- Cuqyun: Predictors of Alaska Native Sobriety and Reasons for Living (James R. Allen, PI).
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