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Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH)

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and several other NIH Institutes and Centers have partnered with the Indian Health Service (IHS) to support the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program. The NARCH initiative supports partnerships between American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) tribes or tribally-based organizations and institutions that conduct intensive academic-level biomedical, behavioral and health services research. NARCH provides opportunities for conducting research, research training and faculty development to meet the needs of AI/AN communities. As a developmental process, tribes and tribal organizations are able to build a research infrastructure, including a core component for capacity building and the possibility of reducing the many health disparities so prevalent in AI/AN communities.

Each NARCH application undergoes rigorous peer review by the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR); NIH/CSR priority scores determine those research projects with the best science, as well as the best designs and strategies to meet the objectives of the NARCH program.

Specifically, the purposes of the NARCH initiative are:

  • To encourage competitive research linked to the health priorities of the AI/AN organizations and to reducing health disparities.
  • To increase the capacity of both AI/AN organizations and research-intensive institutions to work in partnership to reduce distrust by AI/AN communities and people toward research.
  • To develop a cadre of AI/AN scientists and health professionals engaged in biomedical, clinical, behavioral and health services research who will be competitive in securing NIH funding.

Additional benefits include:

  • Research that is directly linked to health concerns articulated by the tribal communities.
  • Experience and training in writing successful grant applications.
  • Training and education for biomedical, behavioral and health services research positions.
  • Local and regional professional and administrative employment for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The grant for these activities is awarded to the Tribal partner, which then subcontracts with the research intensive institution(s). This keeps the community in charge of the research, but draws on the university for expertise that may be necessary to accomplish the scientific and training goals of the NARCH. Due to the complexity of the NARCH program, NIH and IHS work closely to support this initiative. Since IHS is not a research supporting agency, NIH provides funds to support the NARCH research projects while IHS manages the activities with the tribal organizations and research intensive partners. NIGMS funds the bulk of research training and core activities of each NARCH while NIH ICs support projects that are within the purview of the IC’s strategic goals.

For additional information about NARCH, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, May 31, 2013 (PAR-13-239), or contact Dr. Sheila Caldwell at 301-594-3900.

NARCH Research Areas

NARCH Participating Institutions

This page last reviewed on May 13, 2014