Northwest American Indian and Alaskan Native Health Programs Get $3.3 Million Boost

11/20/01    Portland, Ore.

Northwest American Indian and Alaskan Native health programs will be expanding thanks to a new federal grant totaling $3.32 million for four years that will be administered in part and assisted by Oregon Health & Science University's Department of Public Health and Preventive medicine. This grant is the largest of eight similar awards given out nationally.

U.S. Health and Human Services agencies awarded the funding to the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board for programs designed to reduce childhood obesity, prevent tooth decay, determine the barriers against using child safety seats in Northwest area Indian communities, improve the research skills among Indian and Alaskan Natives' health professionals and to study the use of evidence-based medicine to improve health care, so that research gets put in to day-to-day clinical care.

OHSU's Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine will assist with these diverse research activities through a subcontract. This department has been involved with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board in HIV, cancer-related and other research topics during the past four years.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board in this research program. We expect that this new research thrust will lead to the reduction in some health disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native people in the Pacific Northwest," said Thomas Becker, M.D., Ph.D., professor and interim chairman of public health and preventive medicine, OHSU School of Medicine. Becker is the program director for the new research projects.

Dee Robertson, M.D., M.P.H., the principal investigator from the Indian health board, said the health issues addressed by this grant are of critical importance to Northwest tribes. "We expect to learn information that will lead to disease prevention strategies to improve the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives in this region. We are pleased to have the support of OHSU epidemiologists and biostatisticians to assist our efforts," Robertson said.

The funding comes from the Indian Health Service and the National Institutes of Health. Both are agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services.

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