NARCH Research Areas

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

The NICHD mission is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes, and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives. The Institute also aims to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of people through optimal rehabilitation. NICHD is interested in supporting research projects in the following areas:

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)/Sudden Unexplained Infant Death (SUID)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Adolescent pregnancy among those girls under 18 years of age

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

NCI is committed to supporting research to address the significant disparities and needs of the American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) population in terms of cancer prevention and health promotion and treatment. NCI will support the NARCH initiative through its Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD) and Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS).

Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD)

CRCHD is committed to the NCI's efforts to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in our society and train the next generation of competitive researchers from diverse populations in cancer and cancer health disparities research. As such, the CRCHD initiates, integrates, and engages in collaborative research studies with NCI divisions and NIH Institutes and Centers, and outside partners to promote research and training in cancer and cancer health disparities research and to identify new and innovative scientific opportunities to improve cancer outcomes in communities experiencing an excess burden of cancer.

The CRCHD will support scientifically meritorious projects that have direct relevance to the understanding of the basic, clinical, populations and translational sciences of cancer and cancer health disparities among AI/AN populations. CRCHD will assist in achieving these purposes by supporting projects developed by each NARCH partnership.

Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS)

The mission of the DCCPS is alleviating the burden of cancer through research in epidemiology, behavioral and social sciences, health services, surveillance, and cancer survivorship. Cancer control research aims to generate basic knowledge about how to monitor and change individual and collective behavior, and to ensure that knowledge is translated into practice and policy rapidly, effectively, and efficiently. DCCPS also has been through other program announcements trying to enhance the research with Native American communities to address the challenges of cancer control and prevention.

DCCPS through the surveillance program has noted that Native American populations have the lowest 5-year cancer survival rate and highest percentage of disseminated and ill-defined cancers of any subpopulation in the U.S. Poorer cancer survival rates have been attributed to many factors, among them inadequate access to health care, geographic isolation, later stage of detection, underutilization of treatment, poverty, and social and cultural barriers.

The DCCPS is interested in applications that focus on both individual and community factors that affect cancer control and prevention. It is important that researchers consider the context in which people live (place, built environment, etc.) and develop programs that can improve overall health and result in improved health outcomes as they relate to cancer and cancer survivorship.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

NIAID conducts and supports basic and applied research to better understand, treat and ultimately prevent infectious, immunologic and allergic diseases that threaten millions of human lives globally. NIAID has long recognized that racial and ethnic differences affect susceptibility to infection and disease. For example, Native Americans experience higher rates of meningitis and invasive bacterial disease from Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) than do other groups. Year after year, asthma has a disproportionate effect on inner-city populations, particularly among African American and Hispanic/Latino children.

NIAID is committed to research that helps reduce these and other health disparities. Its efforts have led to the development of better drugs for HIV/AIDS, vaccines that have almost eliminated Hib-related disease, and educational programs and other interventions to improve asthma control among inner-city children. The NIAID research portfolio to help improve health and reduce health disparities has grown in recent years in response to new and continuing challenges related to infectious and immune-mediated diseases that disproportionately affect certain populations. NIAID's strategic plan for fiscal years 2009 to 2013 identifies scientific priorities and areas of emphasis in research capacity, training and outreach to target populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, those of low socioeconomic status and rural communities that are more likely to suffer higher rates of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity and mortality.

Current and prior research areas focusing on Native American and Alaskan Native populations:

  • HCV
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Pneumococcal infections
  • Helicobacter pylori

Researchers are encouraged to submit projects within the NIAID scientific mission and priority areas listed below. For further guidance on proposed projects for consideration by NIAID, contact Diane Adger-Johnson at the NIAID Training Help Desk.

NIAID scientific priorities:

  • Advance understanding of the development and progression of diseases and conditions within NIAID's research purview for which health disparities often are an issue. Read more about health disparities.
  • Promote research to inform screening, diagnosis and interventions for target populations to determine how to triage various groups (e.g., persons who are immune-compromised, chronic carriers or more highly susceptible) for appropriate prevention, treatment and education strategies.
  • Strengthen basic research and product development efforts to advance prevention, diagnostic and treatment strategies, including those aimed at developing new and more broadly protective vaccines. Read more about NIAID vaccine research.
  • Identify innovative and practical approaches to access, enroll and study diverse populations in clinical and epidemiological research. Read more about clinical research at NIAID.
  • Attract and develop the next generation of talented researchers to engage in basic, preclinical and clinical research with emphasis on scientists and clinicians who understand health disparities. Read more about NIAID-funded training programs.
  • Enable the study of diseases that contribute to health disparities in the United States and take a tremendous toll on global health. Read about NIAID's role in global research.
  • Support and encourage collaborations among scientists and participation in the extensive network of international and domestic partnerships of scientists, governments, industry and non-government organizations to further develop and advance research capacity in the United States and in resource-poor nations. Read more about partnering with NIAID.
  • Develop evidence-based health-related information that addresses risk factors as well as prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies to reduce or eliminate immune-mediated and infectious diseases, and tailor the messages and the dissemination of materials to the communities and populations at highest risk for the adverse consequences of these diseases and conditions.

NIAID will not support clinical trials under this funding opportunity announcement.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact:

Diane Adger-Johnson
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Office of Research Training and Special Programs
5601 Fishers Lane
Room 4F39, MSC 9824
Bethesda, MD 20892-9824
Tel: 301-669-2924
Fax: 301-480-1993

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)

The NIAMS supports efforts to conduct research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of research progress to improve the public health. Goals specific to the AI/AN communities involve research addressing the career enhancement of researchers and ensuring inclusion of Native communities in clinical research studies. Details of NIAMS's research interests can be found at: NIAMS

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)

Oral Health Research

NIDCR is committed to reducing the disproportionate burden of oral disease experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). The focus of NIDCR's health disparities and inequities research is on improving oral health status and quality of life by understanding and addressing oral diseases that are prevalent in AI/AN communities, specifically caries, oral and pharyngeal cancer and periodontal disease. Multidisciplinary research teams and the participation of communities are viewed by NIDCR as essential components of any health disparities and inequities research.

The paucity of well-characterized conceptual models inhibits progress toward preventing disease, improving oral health status and quality of life. Little information is available for age groups other than children and even for children insight is needed into the etiology or determinants of oral disease/conditions including "upstream factors" that are modifiable. NIDCR invites applications that explore and address the complex array of social, contextual, environmental, health services and systems, policy, literacy, behavioral and biological factors that may contribute to oral health disparities within AI/AN communities. Mixed methods and holistic, multi-level research are encouraged. Applications that are limited to the assessment of disease prevalence or that explore a limited range of potential determinants will be considered non-responsive.

Intervention research is a priority for the NIDCR. Examples of the types of research of interest are those studies that would:

  • Inform clinical practice, public health policy, health care provision, community and/or individual action.
  • Test new paradigms for oral disease prevention, oral health care, disease management and the integration of oral health into primary care.
  • Involve multiple levels of influence such as policy, community, family and individual levels.
  • Encourage partnerships with sectors outside of the health sector to make healthy choices easier choices.
  • Maximize efficiency through the common risk factor approach.
  • Examine contemporary approaches such as social media and telehealth/telemedicine/teledentistry to improve oral health literacy, dissemination and implementation, provision of care in community and other settings.
  • Promote the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based approaches through new health service delivery and policy paradigms.
  • Explore behavioral approaches that are grounded in theory and those that explore mechanisms of action.

The NARCH FOA may be used for observational, exploratory and developmental research that provides information essential to the ultimate planning of oral health-related intervention research. In addition, the FOA may be used for intervention research that does not meet the NIH definition of clinical trials. Applicants wishing to conduct a clinical trial should refer to Funding Opportunities for Investigator-Initiated Clinical Trials.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact an NIDCR program official well in advance of submitting an application.

Darien Weatherspoon, Ph.D.
Director, Health Disparities Research Program
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
6701 Democracy Blvd., Room 640
Bethesda, MD 20892-4878
Tel: 301-594-5394

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

The NIDDK mission is to conduct and support medical research and research training and to disseminate science-based information on diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutritional disorders and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases, to improve people's health and quality of life. Many of the diseases in the NIDDK mission area disproportionately affect American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and NIDDK has programs specifically directed at reducing and ultimately eliminating the disparities. The Institute's research interests are many and broad and include the following:

The Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases (DEM) provides research funding and support for basic and clinical research in the areas of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders, including cystic fibrosis; endocrinology and endocrine disorders; obesity, neuroendocrinology and energy balance; and development, metabolism and basic biology of liver, fat and endocrine tissues. DEM also provides funding for the training and career development of individuals committed to academic and clinical research careers in these areas.

The Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition (DDN) supports research related to digestive diseases, including the alimentary tract, liver and pancreas, nutrition and obesity. The programs include basic, translational and clinical research; research training; and career development. DDN also promotes public awareness and education about digestive diseases and related conditions, and oversees several national public awareness campaigns.

The Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases (KUH) provides research funding and support for basic, translational and clinical research studies of the kidney, urinary tract, and disorders of the blood and blood-forming organs. Areas of research include:

  • Kidney: Chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease, diabetic nephropathy, polycystic kidney disease, hypertensive nephrosclerosis, acute kidney injury, kidney donation, congenital kidney disorders, IgA nephropathy, hemolytic uremic syndrome, fluid and electrolyte disorders, kidney repair and regeneration, and normal and abnormal kidney development and physiology.
  • Urology: Benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary incontinence, urinary tract infections, stones, erectile dysfunction, urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes (including interstitial cystitis and chronic prostatitis), congenital urologic disorders, repair and regeneration of lower urinary tract organs, and normal and abnormal lower urinary tract development and physiology.
  • Hematology: Blood and blood-forming organs, hematopoiesis, hemoglobin disorders, iron metabolism, sickle cell disease, bone marrow failure, iron deficiency, Cooley's anemia (thalassemia), and hemochromatosis.

The KUH also provides funding for training and career development of persons committed to academic and clinical research in these areas.

See a listing of NIDDK research funding programs, organized by the disease area they cover.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact:

Lawrence Agodoa, M.D.
Director, Office of Minority Health Research Coordination
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
National Institutes of Health
2 Democracy, Room 902
6707 Democracy Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20892-5454
Tel: 301-594-1932
Fax: 301-594-9358

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

NIEHS conducts and supports environmental health science research to discover how the environment affects people in order to promote healthier lives. A particular focus is innovative research that improves public health by preventing disease and disability. All applications must be aligned to NIEHS's mission, research priorities and strategic plan (;, particularly the goals of addressing environmental health disparities and environmental inequities that disproportionately affect AI/AN communities, and promoting bi-directional communication with AI/AN communities engaged in research. NIEHS is interested in supporting research projects in the following categories:

  • Environmental health disparities research that integrates social and behavioral aspects with disproportionate environmental exposures.
  • Cumulative exposure research that examines chemical environmental pollutants, and exposures from the microbiome, infectious agents, nutritional sources, stress and other social determinants of health.
  • Translational science that moves environmental health science findings into a public health or medical application and that uses culturally relevant languages and formats for disseminating results to tribal communities.
  • Education and training to increase the involvement of AI/AN individuals in environmental health sciences research, and to increase the environmental health literacy of AI/AN communities. Applicants are encouraged to establish research collaborations with NIEHS-funded investigators and/or with NIEHS's Environmental Health Sciences Core Center Program or with the Centers for Children's Environmental Health & Disease Prevention Research Program (Centers, Interagency Collaborations, and Consortia).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact:

Symma Finn, Ph.D.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
530 Davis Drive, Room 3045
Durham, NC 27713
Tel: 919-541-4258

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Mental Disorders and HIV/AIDS in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Mental Disorders: The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report—United States, 2013, indicates that, when compared to the white population, American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), experience disproportionately higher rates of psychological distress, higher drug-related deaths and death by suicide. American Indian and Alaska Native youth, in particular, suffer disproportionately from suicide. From 2005-2009, AI/ANs between the ages of 15-34 had the highest rates of suicide of any racial or ethnic group. Multiple factors contribute to the high rates of suicide among AI/AN populations, including individual-level factors (e.g., alcohol and substance abuse and mental illness), family or peer-level factors (e.g., family disruption or suicidal behavior of others) and societal-level factors (e.g., poverty, unemployment, discrimination and historical trauma—defined as the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding across generations). There is a paucity of empirical data on the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders, tools to pre-empt or prevent disorders, and barriers to and facilitators of receipt of and retention in treatment and effective treatments for mental disorders among the various AI/AN populations, nationwide.

NIMH encourages research projects that:

  • Develop culturally congruent preventive interventions that reduce suicide.
  • Develop strategies to increase mental health service engagement across tribes and geographic regions, with cultural or other adaptations to existing evidence-based engagement approaches justified by empirical and theoretical evidence of the need for adaptation.
  • Empirically determine the most effective strategies for the scale-up and implementation of evidenced-based interventions that treat, pre-empt or prevent mental disorders.
  • Identify and test the appropriate application of technology to extend mental health human resources in remote rural settings.
  • Identify factors that may prevent mental disorders in AI/AN populations and could be target mechanisms for future intervention development research.

NIMH strongly encourages the establishment of collaborative research partnerships which will provide the researchers of AI/AN mental health the capacity to investigate multiple units of analysis across domains/constructs that moderate intervention effects (e.g., stress, distress, cognition, social processes).

HIV/AIDS: Even though AI/AN HIV/AIDS cases comprise less than 1 percent of total cases in the United States, AI/AN communities are disproportionately impacted by the disease. American Indians and Alaska Natives have a 40 percent higher rate of AIDS than non-Hispanic white Americans, and the AIDS rate among Native women is 2.8 times that of non-Hispanic white women. American Indian and Alaska Native communities experience significant health disparities and face high rates of substance abuse and sexually transmitted infections, which increase the risk of HIV transmission. Several dimensions of the AIDS epidemic for AI/AN groups are especially concerning including rapid progression from HIV infection to AIDS-defining illness and low survival rates after AIDS diagnosis is made. Additionally, many AI/AN individuals, like other Americans, do not know that they are infected and are therefore more likely to spread the disease. Relevant factors that place these individuals at risk and present barriers to prevention include poverty, high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, violence, stigma, denial and concern about confidentiality in smaller reservation and rural communities.

Because HIV infection is a continuing health crisis in indigenous people, research on AI/ANs has been identified as one of the overarching research priorities of the FY 2016 Trans-NIH Plan for HIV-Related Research, section on Racial and Ethnic Populations in Areas of Special Interest. To reduce the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic among indigenous communities in the United States, NIMH/DAR-supported HIV/AIDS research in AI/AN communities should have the following objectives:

  • Rapidly expand the HIV prevention intervention portfolio for gay men and other high-risk vulnerable individuals from indigenous communities.
  • Identify mechanisms to explain differences in HIV-related disparities (e.g., factors like social/sexual networks, access to and quality of health care, characteristics of health biology).
  • Develop and advance multilevel preventive intervention programs, address consequences of HIV and incorporate community-based participatory principles that ensure bidirectional benefit and investment of community and the research team.
  • Examine utility of combination behavioral-biomedical interventions and treatment as prevention approaches.
  • Explore operations research to focus on barriers, facilitating factors and outcomes of scaling-up HIV prevention interventions with known efficacy; improve uptake and effectiveness of efficacious interventions.

For these research objectives to be realized, it will be necessary to strengthen the workforce of HIV investigators from NA backgrounds through programs that develop a cadre of investigators in NIMH/DAR priorities.

NIMH recommends that both non-AIDS and AIDS applications that propose an adaptation to existing interventions provide an empirical rationale for the need for and focus of the adaptation, consistent with the NAMHC Workgroup Report recommendations on intervention adaptation, and in consultation with relevant Institute program staff.

All other aspects of this FOA remain unchanged.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact:

Roberto Delgado, Ph.D. (non-AIDS applications)
National Institute of Mental Health
Tel: 301-443-4372

David M. Stoff, Ph.D. (AIDS applications)
National Institute of Mental Health
Tel: 301-443-4625

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

NIA's health disparities research goals are to (1) understand environmental and sociocultural factors and related behavioral and biological mechanisms that diminish health and reduce life expectancy for populations that experience health disparities, (2) develop strategies to increase life expectancy among aging adults and improve the health status of elders from underserved and disadvantaged populations, and (3) use research insights and advances to inform policy that reduces health disparities.

NIA is interested in basic research on aging to explore the biological mechanisms through which disparities influence age-related change; in behavioral studies on disparities and aging that investigate environmental, sociocultural and biological influences that delay or accelerate aging health disparities; and in research on geriatric conditions where disparities emerge in diagnosis, prognosis or treatment, including palliative and end-of-life care.

Appropriate topics/studies include those listed below:

  • Development of new measures to facilitate research on the behavioral and social mechanisms leading to disparities in health and well-being over the lifespan, or the addition of existing measures for this purpose to ongoing studies.
  • Studies focused on racial, ethnic or gender disparities in stress-responses that include differences in stress pathways such as nutrient sensing, hormones, inflammation, immune-senescence, metabolomics or genetics/epigenetics.
  • Studies focused on racial or ethnic disparities in functional, physiologic, or metabolic outcomes across the life span and in old age.
  • Research that will examine the mechanisms underlying the health disparities in aging of sensory, motor, cognition, and/or other neural systems and/or Alzheimer’s disease.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

NIAAA conducts and supports research in the following areas:

  • Epidemiology: Studies that provide detailed epidemiologic information on the patterns of alcohol use and alcohol-related problems as a gateway to understanding the etiology of alcohol use.
  • Genetics: Research that explores population differences in genetics and alcohol metabolism in responses to alcohol.
  • Prevention intervention research: Alcohol prevention research aimed at reducing the causes and consequences of high-risk drinking, including driving under the influence, accidents and suicide; community based prevention research; multi-level prevention strategies.
  • Treatment and health services research: Treatment and recovery research, including medication assisted treatment; research on factors influencing the availability of alcohol treatment across different populations.
  • Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders: Studies that develop prevention approaches and assess the effectiveness of these approaches; understanding of the biological consequences of alcohol use on birth outcomes.
  • Underage/college/young adult drinking, including prevention and treatment interventions.
  • Screening and brief intervention; especially translation of SBI to diverse populations.
  • Psychosocial influences on drinking initiation, escalation, maintenance, dependence (e.g., social norms/networks, peer/family, violence, health equity, economics/policy).
  • Comorbidity of alcohol use disorders with other substance use and mental health disorders.
  • New methodologies (mobile health, sensors, ecological/mathematical modeling of multiple level processes).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact:

Judith A. Arroyo, Ph.D.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
5635 Fishers Lane
Bethesda, MD 20892-9304 (Express Mail: 20852-1705)
Tel: 301-402-0717

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

NIDA is interested in supporting research that will reduce health disparities in drug abuse and related health and social consequences among AI/AN. Studies should employ the methodologies required by the NARCH, including that studies be developed and implemented using community based participatory approaches. Details of NIDA's research interests can be found at NARCH Research Areas

National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)

NIMHD leads scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities, to realize an America in which all populations will have an equal opportunity to live long, healthy, and productive lives. To accomplish this, NIMHD raises national awareness about the prevalence and impact of health disparities and disseminates effective individual-, community-, and population-level interventions to reduce and encourage elimination of health disparities. NIMHD is interested in projects including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Interventions derived from local culture in strategies, process, implementation and evaluation. 
  • Projects that directly address methodological issues inherent in research small populations such as those in many native communities.
  • Culturally-leveraged community based interventions focused on existing practices that support strengths and resilience factors that may be applicable and useful in other communities. 
  • Projects that collect data to address risk factors for health disparities where aggregated data obscure disparities and data gaps.
  • Projects that document efficacy and monetize traditional healing practices for coverage by insurance.
  • Projects that develop innovative approaches to the provision of non-stigmatizing and resilience supportive prevention and treatment interventions.
  • Projects that build community understanding and capacity for equal participation in health promotion and disease prevention research, including development of community health needs assessment, tribal health research review capacity, and tribal Institutional Review Board capacity.

Office of Research on Women’s Health

ORWH is interested in applications that address issues associated with women’s health and/or sex and gender influences on health and disease. Please visit the NIH Strategic Plan for Women’s Health Research to determine if an application addresses the ORWH mission [PDF, 1.26MB].