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The Native Children's Research Exchange Scholars Program: Preparing the Next Generation of American Indian and Alaska Native Substance Abuse and Addition Scientists

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PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) populations face some of the most significant substance abuse inequities of any population in the United States. The National Institutes of Health has increased efforts to address these inequities through investing in research to understand the root causes and in studies focused on prevention and intervention in these populations. Additional efforts include the establishment of the Tribal Health Research Office at the NIH in 2015 and the launch of the Intervention Research to Improve Native American Health Initiative in 2012. While gains are being made, they are incremental, slowed by many complexities encountered in research with diverse AIAN populations. A challenge that continues to attenuate the effectiveness of NIH's efforts is the underrepresentation of AIAN investigators at the helm of research studies. The cadre of AIAN Principal Investigators (PIs) is growing, but AIAN PIs remain significantly underrepresented. While there are a number of well-trained non-Native PIs who work closely with AIAN communities, using effective Community-Based Participatory Research approaches to enhance scientific rigor and relevance in these contexts, the potential of these studies to fully integrate scientific and cultural knowledge throughout study design, measurement, analysis, interpretation and dissemination is undermined by the lack of AIAN leadership. This project is designed to build on and expand the successful Native Children's Research Exchange Scholars (NCRE) program to support the development of AIAN early career substance abuse researchers. NCRE Scholars began in 2012 on the foundation of the NCRE network of researchers engaged in research with AIAN children and adolescents. The NCRE network provides a platform for connecting graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty to senior research mentors who provide substantive mentoring and career development support. The NCRE conferences attended by this network offer a forum for sharing information and further building collaborative relationships. The proposed project will support the development of the next generation of AIAN substance abuse and addiction scientists by: (1) sustaining the NCRE Scholars program to support 10 additional Scholars in 5 Cohorts of 2 Scholars each; (2) retaining the fundamental components of the successful NCRE Scholars program, continuing to provide intensive mentoring to small cohorts of Scholars in connection to the NCRE network through the creation and implementation of Tailored Career Development Plans and support of writing objectives; (3) expanding the experiences for NCRE Scholars with the guidance of a Scholars Advisory board and by developing a Grantwriting Workshop to be delivered in conjunction with NCRE Conferences and a structured curriculum in the Responsible Conduct of Research with AIAN Communities; and (4) integrating a small NCRE student mentoring effort with the NCRE Scholars program to enhance engagement of potential researchers earlier in the educational pipeline (NCRE stars program; Students Thinking About Research careerS).
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