Origin and History


The NIH is the largest supporter of biomedical and behavioral research in the world, providing funds for more than 40,000 competitive research grants and more than 325,000 research personnel at more than 3,000 research institutions, including Tribal colleges and universities and Tribal governments and small businesses across the Nation. Decision-makers at the NIH seek advice from many sources when setting priorities, and encourages and depends upon public involvement in federally supported research and activities.

Policies and Guidance Established

In December 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Tribal Consultation Policy (TCP) which states that before any HHS action is taken that will significantly affect Indian Tribes, consultation with Indian Tribes will occur to the extent practicable and permitted by law. The policy calls on the HHS operating staff and divisions to have an accountable process, as defined in the TCP, to ensure meaningful and timely input by Indian Tribes in the development of policies that have Tribal implications.

In 2013, the NIH issued its Guidance on the Implementation of the HHS Tribal Consultation Policy to support implementation of the TCP. It describes how the agency will consult with and share information with the Indian tribes about planned and current NIH programs relevant to American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) health research.

THRO Established

In 2015, the NIH established the Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) in recognition of the importance of ensuring meaningful input from and collaboration with tribal Nations on NIH programs and policies (as described in the TCP); and to coordinate tribal health research-related activities across the agency.

The Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) was established in September, 2015. The NIH convened its first consultation session on September 21, 2015, and has held yearly sessions since then.

This page last reviewed on April 9, 2019