USD med school’s $7.4 million grant will help American Indians through research partnerships

USD med school's $7.4 million grant will help American Indians through research partnerships
American Indians in South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and elsewhere will benefit significantly from a new $7.4 million grant awarded to The University of South Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Center for Disabilities, along with a number of other partners from across the region.

The University of South Dakota will serve as the lead institution on a five-year grant that will create the Center for Health Research with tribes in South Dakota-Montana-Wyoming. The grant was awarded by the Department of Health & Human Services National Center of Minority Health and Health Disparities Office at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The Center for Disabilities at USD will partner with Black Hills State University, the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council (, and Sinte Gleska University on this grant.

Other project affiliates include: University of North Dakota, Columbia University in New York, Oglala Lakota College and the South Dakota Health Research Foundation.

"This is an exciting new opportunity to use partnerships between South Dakota universities, regional and national universities, tribal colleges, and tribal health agencies to address health care issues that are important to the tribes of this region," said Dr. Ben Perryman, principal investigator for the grant.

Through this unique relationship, the partners will advance the science directed towards impacting health disparities for American Indians, increase the number of researchers and professionals from minority populations trained in biomedical and behavioral research through the creation of a mentoring program with Sinte Gleska University and increase the dissemination and utilization of scientific and health information relevant to health diversity populations.

"This consortium of health professionals and dedicated researchers will establish a new model of collaboration and partnerships based on mutual respect and support between the professional and grassroots organizations dedicated to providing a better health future and outcomes for tribes of Montana-Wyoming and South Dakota through a research model in which the tribes are acknowledged as equal stakeholders in scientific research," said Gordon Belcourt, executive director of the Montana-Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council.

The effort to increase researchers and professionals in biomedical and behavioral research will allow for the creation of health disparities research projects based on tribal needs and will result in the development of associated resource materials specifically tailored for American Indians.

"As important as it is to bridge the communication gap between Indians and non-Indians, it is even more crucial to bridge the communication gap amongst our own tribal people,"�said Carole Anne Heart, executive director of the Aberdeen Area Tribal Chairmen's Health Board (AATCHB). "Strengthening the capacity to communicate effectively about health and related issues is the key to organizational success."

Specifically, the grant will (1) help fund a significant study on Cultural Resilience and Adolescent Risk Behaviors by young Indian people, (2) fund an investigation into the role of prenatal alcohol exposure in the risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), stillbirth and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) by tracking American Indian children through age four, and (3) create the opportunity for a different pilot project to be conducted each year of the grant.

Additionally, this new grant will help provide technical assistance, training and support to tribal health and physical activities programs to conduct Community Child Health Needs Assessments and to develop tribally-tailored programs to prevent and reduce childhood obesity. Health information dissemination to tribal leaders, tribal health and diabetes program staff, researchers, and others will also be an on-going aspect of the grant.

"Black Hills State University is enthusiastic about working with USDSM and with our tribal organization partners to continue to develop the tribal participatory research model that has been an integral aspect of our past and current health disparities research program," said Kathy Langwell, BHSU community outreach and education core director for the new grant.

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