Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research

Overall Center Goal

Indigenous populations, such as American Indian and Alaska Native communities, suffer from increased mortality attributable to cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes, and liver disease, among other conditions. Chemically contaminated traditional foods, water, air, and household environments, as well as social determinants of health, contribute to these health disparities and stand out as modifiable factors for Indigenous communities.

The Center for Indigenous Environmental Health Research (CIEHR) partners with rural and urban American Indian and Alaska Native communities to build capacity and evaluate the contribution of chemical and other environmental exposures to health inequities. CIEHR uses a community-based participatory research approach for all its research and outreach projects, which includes working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to identify culturally grounded community resilience strategies and factors that strengthen the community’s ability to address harmful exposures and mitigate adverse health effects. CIEHR also supports efforts to address these threats by increasing environmental health literacy, disseminating research findings, and informing program and policy development.

The specific aims of this center’s projects are to:

  • Collaborate with Indigenous communities and community partners to carry out environmental exposure research, which includes evaluating uranium and arsenic contamination of traditional food and water sources and addressing household exposures to particulate matter, arsenic, and uranium.
  • Build Indigenous community capacity to address environmental health inequities by providing mentorship and research training to American Indian and Alaska Native early investigators.
  • Improve environmental health research translation and inform health policy by working with American Indian and Alaska Native partners to translate and disseminate research findings that will inform community strategies to reduce adverse environmental exposures.

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