Honoring Health Newsletter

From the NIH Tribal Health Research Office | Summer 2022

Posted on June 1, 2022

Director's Message

Welcome to the Summer 2022 Honoring Health Newsletter!

Image of Dr. David R. Wilson, Director, THRO, NIH Hello, Honoring Health Subscribers! As director of the Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I thank you for your continued support of Honoring Health. In this first issue curated by THRO, and in those to come, we aim to share quality content and useful resources. And there is much to share! Across NIH, there is increasing focus on the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and a growing portfolio of tribal health research.

THRO was established in 2015 to ensure meaningful input from and collaboration with Tribal Nations on NIH policies, programs, and priorities. We’re the central point of contact at NIH for federally recognized AI/AN Tribes throughout the U.S. and the coordination hub for tribal health research activities across NIH. The THRO team is focused on enhancing capacity for research in tribal communities, promoting opportunities for the next generation of AI/AN researchers, and disseminating transparent and culturally aware information to Native communities about NIH and biomedical and behavioral research.

I invite you to learn about THRO, check out NIH’s new Tribal Consultation policy, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn for news about NIH, biomedical research, funding, employment and internship opportunities, events, and more!

If you have ideas for this newsletter, comments, or questions, please contact us at throinfo@od.nih.gov. Thank you for your interest in NIH’s research and resources!

With appreciation,
Dr. David R. Wilson, Director, THRO, NIH

News and Events

Video Conversations About Tribal Health Research and Resources Related to Bone, Muscle, Skin, and Autoimmune Diseases, and About Drug Use and Addiction

In a special video conversation, Dr. David R. Wilson, director of THRO, and Dr. Lindsey A. Criswell, director of NIH’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, talk about bone, muscle, skin, and autoimmune diseases; their impact on AI/AN people; and related research and resources. You also can watch Dr. Wilson’s November 2021 discussion with Dr. Nora Volkow, director of NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, about current issues related to drug use and addiction, including the impacts of COVID-19, the importance of cultural strengths, and NIH research.

The Success of COVID-19 Vaccination in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

In the March 2022 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, experts—including Dr. Wilson—provided a perspective about how AI/AN communities were disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Nonetheless, AI/AN communities led the country in COVID-19 vaccine uptake. The processes undertaken with COVID-19 vaccination efforts in these communities show how the right approaches can help advance health equity efforts and maximize public health impact.

Register for Upcoming Event Featuring a Presentation About Mental Health, Family Functioning, and Sleep Among AI/AN Urban Youth

Join the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research for the 15th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors on Friday, June 3, from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. During this half-day virtual event, Dr. Alina Palimaru of the RAND Corporation, will present “Mental health, family functioning, and sleep in cultural context among American Indian/Alaska Native urban youth: A mixed methods analysis.” Additional speakers will focus on racism, health disparities, and health equity. Learn more and register to attend this event.

15th NIH Matilda White Riley Behaviorial and Social Sciences Honors

View Lecture About the Connection Between Culture and Science

Dr. Donald Warne (Oglala Lakota), Director, Indians Into Medicine ProgramTHRO hosted an event in November 2021 honoring and celebrating Native ingenuity and culture. Dr. Donald Warne, director of the Indians Into Medicine Program and associate dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of North Dakota, offered a virtual lecture about the interconnectedness of culture and science. Watch the recording and share it with your colleagues.

NIH RECOVER Initiative

Recovery from infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can vary from person to person. NIH created the Researching COVID to Enhance Recovery (RECOVER) Initiative to learn about the long-term effects of COVID. You can help us find answers by sharing your experience and volunteering to participate in research. Learn how to get involved.

NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative

The NIH Climate Change and Health Initiative is an urgent agency-wide effort to reduce health threats from climate change across the lifespan and build health resilience in individuals, communities, and nations around the world, especially among those at highest risk. Read an article about the initiative.

Tribal Consultations

New NIH Tribal Consultation Policy: Fostering Consistent, Meaningful Engagement with Tribal Nations

NIH issued a new Tribal Consultation Policy in March 2022, marking an important step that reflects NIH’s commitment to sovereign Tribal Nations, a transparent and consistent Tribal Consultation process, and support for the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives through biomedical and behavioral health research. Read Dr. Wilson’s statement about the new policy and learn about Tribal Consultation at NIH.

A family outdoors, courtesy of TONL stock photo service

Opportunities and Announcements

Learn More About NIH Funding Opportunities

Visit the NIH Grants and Funding webpage to view a variety of funding opportunities aimed at speeding innovative research and driving better health outcomes.

Student Internship Opportunities

NIH recognizes that investing in future scientists influences the health and well-being of generations to come. There are opportunities for students (high school and beyond) at the world’s largest biomedical research agency.

Research Highlights

How Lessons from HIV Research Informed COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

A new study conducted by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shows how community engagement approaches developed by the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) strengthened COVID-19 vaccine trials. The HVTN is one of several NIAID-supported research networks that joined together to form the COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN). “We want to make a vaccine that works for all of us,” says Michele Andrasik, Ph.D., director of social and behavioral sciences and community engagement at the HVTN. “We need to make sure that those who are most impacted are included in the trials.” Because of that history of community engagement, 47 percent of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants who were recruited by one HIV research network were Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).

Many Tribal Nations requested clear and accurate information on the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Dr. Wilson worked closely with them, and as a result, three Tribal Nations served by CoVPN sites collaborated with THRO, NIAID, and the vaccine sponsor to establish data sovereignty agreements that met each Nation’s needs.

NIH COVID-19 Research Information

Stay current on the latest COVID-19 research information from NIH. View NIH’s COVID-19 website to learn about the agency’s strategic response to COVID-19, read about NIH-funded research projects on COVID-19, and access resources for researchers. The website also provides information on COVID-19 topics, such as vaccines, treatments, clinical trials, and testing, as well as related news and stories.

NIH Begins Clinical Trial Evaluating Second COVID-19 Booster Shot in Adults

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell (purple) infected with a variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (pink), isolated from a patient sample. Image courtesy of the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.A Phase 2 clinical trial evaluating various additional COVID-19 booster shots has begun enrolling adult participants in the U.S. The trial aims to understand whether different vaccine regimens can boost immune responses in adults who already have received a primary vaccination series and a first booster shot.

People from Minority Groups and Marginalized Communities Report Frequent COVID-19-Related Discrimination

The NIH National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the University of California, San Francisco conducted a study to determine the prevalence of COVID-19-related discrimination among major racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. and estimate associations between discrimination, race/ethnicity, and other sociodemographic characteristics.

Treating Chronic Hypertension in Early Pregnancy Benefits Parents and Babies

Adults treated with medication for high blood pressure that was present before or during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy—defined as chronic hypertension in pregnancy—had fewer adverse pregnancy outcomes compared with adults who did not receive antihypertensive treatment, according to a study supported by NIH.

Featured Health Information

Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities

Launched in September 2020, the NIH-wide Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities aims to provide trustworthy information through active community engagement and outreach to communities hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. CEAL’s goal is to build long-lasting partnerships, foster trust, and promote diversity and inclusion in the research response. Visit the CEAL website for information about activities, events, shareable resources, and the new pediatric webpage to help parents make informed decisions about vaccinating their children against COVID-19.

Summary Available for the 2019 Traditional Medicine Summit: Maintaining and Protecting Culture Through Healing

Cover of the NIH report for the 2019 Traditional Medicine SummitIn November 2019, THRO—with the NIH National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—brought the biomedical research and traditional medicine communities together in a first-of-its-kind meeting, the 2019 Traditional Medicine Summit: Maintaining and Protecting Culture Through Healing. This positive, supportive, and historic forum serves as a model for how traditional healers and health researchers can come together to identify approaches for respectful collaboration to improve Native health now and in the future. Read the Summit report issued last fall for a full summary of the event.

Free Monthly Consumer Health Newsletter from NIH

You can request free paper copies of NIH News in Health for your clinics, schools, libraries, and community centers! This monthly research-based newsletter is written in plain language, covers a variety of health topics, and includes lists of helpful health tips for bulletin boards.

The Concept of Herd Immunity with COVID-19

Achieving classical herd immunity against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may not be attainable, according to a new perspective published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases. However, the authors note that widespread use of currently available public health interventions to prevent and control COVID-19 will enable resumption of most activities of daily life with minimal disruption.

Understanding the Process of Science

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the crucial public health importance of explaining why science changes and why it’s important to expect that change. To learn more about building public trust in science, see NIH’s one-page guide.

Illustration collage depicting researchers and sample data.

PATHWAYS: Magazines, Lessons, Activities, and Videos on Real-World Science Topics for Grades 6–12

Check out the latest issue of Pathways magazine from the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Read about the science of vaccines, and download free science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teaching guides, lessons, and activities. Pathways is for students in grades 6–12 and is designed to build awareness of basic biomedical science and its importance to health while inspiring careers in research.

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