Native American Research Centers for Health Program Launched

Release Date:

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) are collaborating on a new program designed to promote, develop, and support centers that will link the Native American community with organizations that conduct health research. The program, Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH), will pursue this goal by encouraging research on diseases and health conditions of importance to American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The NARCH Program also seeks to develop a cadre of American Indian biomedical and behavioral scientists and health professionals who are able to compete successfully for NIH funding. Another goal is to increase the capacity of both the research-intensive organizations and the Indian organizations to work in partnership to produce competitive research proposals.

Dr. Clifton Poodry, director of the NIGMS Division of Minority Opportunities in Research, said, "This is a ground-breaking venture. We have combined the research and training mission of NIGMS with the specific IHS mission to serve the health care needs of the American Indian/Alaska Native community. Most importantly, we have responded to advice from the community to find ways to include American Indians as researchers, not merely as subjects."

Leo Nolan, senior policy analyst to the IHS director, added that the program "ensures that the American Indian and Alaska Native community will direct and control research on their own behalf. This effort is in direct response to the Administration's initiative to actively seek the Indian community's advice and direction on matters that directly affect them."

The NARCH Program was developed in response to concerns raised at the American Indian Research Training Needs Meeting held on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus in August 1999. The meeting, co-sponsored by NIGMS and the IHS, brought NIH scientists and health policy makers together with American Indian scientists from around the country to discuss the needs of American Indians with regard to biomedical research training and to develop a plan of action.

The new program provides funds to support faculty-initiated, scientifically meritorious research projects, including pilot research projects, at NARCH organizations. It also supports projects designed to increase the research skills and numbers of Native American science students.

A full-text version of the NARCH announcement, which includes further details about the program, eligibility requirements, and application procedures is available at