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 research. NARCH provides opportunities for conducting research, research training and faculty development to meet the needs of AI/AN communities. The NARCH program also provides opportunities for tribes and tribal organizations to build research infrastructure, and capacity building to address the health disparities prevalent in AI/AN communities and increase trust of research within the AIAN 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 scientists and health professionals engaged in AIAN health research, within and outside those communities, 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 research positions.
  • Local and regional professional and administrative employment for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

NARCH grant applications are submitted by and awarded to the tribe or tribal organization. Awarding the grant directly to the tribe or tribal organization allows for the community to dictate and oversee the research priorities, while drawing upon expertise from research intensive institutions to accomplish the scientific goals of the NARCH. Due to the complexity of the NARCH program, NIH and IHS work closely to support this initiative. NIH oversees the funding and management of the NARCH grants while IHS oversees the interactions between the tribal organizations and research intensive partners. NIGMS funds the bulk of faculty development, student research training and core activities of each NARCH while NIH ICOs support projects that are within the purview of the ICO’s strategic goals.

For additional information about NARCH, see the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, May 27, 2016 (PAR-16-297), or contact Dr. Sheila Caldwell.

NARCH Research Areas

Awarded NARCH Recipients​​