Office of Health Disparities Research

Addressing Health Disparities is Our Priority.

Native American Interest Group - Past Presentations

OHDR's Native American Interest Group (NAIG) sponsors a monthly presentation series featuring a broad range of speakers on Indian health topics. Meetings are open to the public and attended in person and remotely by a national audience that includes the Indian Health Service and the Veterans Administration.

Upcoming presentations and more information

Past presentations

Jon Kerstetter, M.D.


December 12, 2017

Jon Kerstetter, M.D., one of the first Native Americans to receive an M.D. from Mayo Clinic's School of Medicine, grew up on the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin hearing stories of his grandfather's boarding school experiences at the Carlisle Industrial Indian School.  After graduating medical school, he initially practiced in Iowa, then joined the Iowa National Guard, ultimately serving as a combat physician and flight surgeon in Rwanda, Kosovo, Bosnia, and, finally, Iraq.  He served three tours in Iraq at the height of US involvement, ultimately suffering an injury, and a stroke shortly thereafter, which forced him back to Iowa and prevented his return both to military service and the practice of medicine.  As part of his long and difficult rehabilitation, Dr. Kerstetter began writing, and his work has appeared in "The Best American Essays," River Teeth, and other literary journals.  In September 2017, he published his biography, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier's Story, in which he examines the unique moral and social dichotomy faced by military doctors: the fundamental tension between killing and healing, between soldier and physician.  He also examines his life experiences, which have been marked by crossings from one world into another, from cultural, ethnic, social, medical, and military perspectives.

Kara Schurman

Kara Schurman"Cultural Congruence in Health Care" (June 2016)

Kara Schurman is director of the Midwest Area Tribal Health Board at the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center. Schurman, herself Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe and Eastern Shawnee of Oklahoma, will introduce the new Great Lakes Tribal Health Board and discuss “Cultural Congruence in Health Care,” focusing particularly on best responses to Native patients. Schurman is also a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse.

Tilburt_Jon_C_12O adjustedJon Tilburt M.D.
February 14, 2017

Jon Tilburt, M.D., a health disparities researcher who focuses on patient-centered care and ethics. Dr. Tilburt—who has ongoing partnerships with the Alaska Native Medical Center and with the Walking Forward program in South Dakota—will explore how insights from shared decision making research may or may not apply to Native communities. He will also explore how emerging re-search might help re-envision what it means to respect and wholeheartedly embrace patients in health systems, as well as open up a conversation about a kind of "sovereignty training" in the research and health care establishment about the meaning of respect in 21st century healthcare.

Click Link for Dr. Tilburt's presentation

Sarah Nash, Ph.D.

Sarah-Nash"Monitoring cancer incidence and mortality among Alaska Native people: the Alaska Native Tumor Registry" (May 2016)

Sarah Nash, Ph.D., is from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, where she works in the Tribal Epidemiology Center as director of the Alaska Native Tumor Registry. Dr. Nash also serves as principal investigator for the Alaska Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute.

Betty Smith and Shirley Greising

Shirley Greising

Shirley Greising

Betty Smith

Betty Smtih

"My Sister and I: A Norwegian-Dakota Family History - Our Dakota Educational Journey Continues" (March 2016)

View recorded presentation

Sisters Betty Smith and Shirley Greising retrace their upbringing in Rochester, Minnesota, with their Norwegian father and their Dakota mother, who grew up on the Spirit Lake Dakota Tribal Reservation in North Dakota. Smith's and Greising's uncle, Woodrow Wilson Keeble, served as a master sergeant in the U.S. Army and is the only full-blooded Dakota/Lakota to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded posthumously for gallantry above and beyond the call of duty in the Korean War.

Tommy Rock

Tommy Rock"Uranium Contamination on the Navajo Nation" (February 2016)

View recorded presentation

Tommy Rock, formerly associated with the Native Learning Center and the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, currently conducts research on the impact of uranium contamination on the livestock and residents in Monument Valley on the Navajo Nation. There are 523 abandoned uranium mines, dating back to WWII, on the Navajo Nation.

Dianne Barton, Ph.D.

"Understanding Tribal Exposure to Toxics"Dianne Barton (December 2015)

View recorded presentation

Dianne Barton, Ph.D., is water quality coordinator at the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) where she provides technical expertise related to water quality, environmental toxics, regulatory processes, and fate and transport of contaminants. She also serves as chair of the National Tribal Toxics Council (NTTC), an Environmental Protection Agency Tribal partnership group that advocates for tribal interests in toxic policy decisions. Prior to her current position, she was a distinguished member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and worked in the Environmental Restoration Technologies Department and in the Infrastructure Surety Department at Sandia. She holds a doctorate in geochemistry from the University of Arizona and is a member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Wesley Petersen, Ph.D.

Wesley O Petersen, PhD"NARO: What is it? What does it do? What can it do for  you?" (October 2015)

View recorded presentation

Wesley Petersen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of oncology, at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and supervisor of Mayo Clinic's Native Sister Programs. He conducts research primarily with American Indians and Alaska Natives and has served as principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and co-investigator on a variety of projects involving tribes in the Midwest, Southwest and Alaska. Following principles of community-based participatory research, Dr. Petersen's current studies involve identifying theoretical mediators that may differentiate women who adhere to breast screening guidelines from those who do not, to establish a foundation on which interventional studies may be designed to increase women's adherent participation in their tribes' mammography screening programs.

Daniel Petereit, M.D.

Daniel Petereit MD"Walking Forward: Addressing Cancer Disparities Among the Northern Plains American Indians" (September 2015)

View recorded presentation

Daniel Petereit, M.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation/Gynecology and adjunct associate professor in the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a professor at the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota Medical School.  Dr. Petereit practices at Rapid City Regional Hospital and his Special Emphasis-NIH Clinical Disparities Grant for Native Americans relates to brachytherapy for gynecologic, prostate, lung and breast cancer. He is also a National Cancer Center Institute principal investigator on several ongoing grants investigating cancer disparities, clinical trials and patient navigation.

Agnes Attakai

Agnes Attakai"Documenting Resilience Stories: Promising Research with Urban American Indian Elders" (June 2015)

View recorded presentation

Agnes Attakai, a member of the Dine (Navajo) Nation, is director of health disparities outreach and prevention education for the Center of Health Equality at the University of Arizona's Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Attakai has bachelor's degrees in political science and American Indian studies, and a master's in public administration with a focus on health policy from the University of Arizona. Attakai has coordinated education programs for American Indian students at the university and community college levels. She has been a graduate research assistant, program coordinator, senior research specialist, and evaluator focusing on community-engaged projects and coordinating education and training programs for underserved populations in Arizona. Her current projects include the Southwest American Indian Collaborative Network grant with the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., the Center for Health Equality/Project EXPORT with the University of Arizona Zuckerman College of Public Health, and the Evaluation of the Hardrock Youth Wellness and Prevention Program with the Navajo community of Hardrock, Arizona.  Attakai is a member of the American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus of the American Public Health Association, the Native Research Network and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. She is on the Arizona Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition State Plan committee and a member of the Minority Women’s Health Panel of Experts for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Women’s Health.

Felicia Hodge, Ph.D.

Felicia Hodge PhD"Patterns of Adverse Childhood Events and Chronic Illnesses Among American Indians – Implications for Health Care" (May 2015)

Dr. Felicia Hodge, Ph.D., is a professor in the School of Nursing and the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Hodge teaches courses in research methods, American Indian populations and family theory. She is  founder and director of the Center for American Indian/Indigenous Research and Education (CAIIRE), which supports research, evaluation, policy development, education, planning, prevention and community service activities. Dr. Hodge is also chair of the American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program at UCLA. She also serves as a member of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) National Advisory Council. She has served as principal investigator for several large R01 research projects targeting American Indian health issues including cervical cancer, nutrition, smoking cessation, breast cancer, wellness concepts, diabetes, cancer pain and self management, all supported by the National Cancer Institute and/or the NINR. Dr. Hodge’s research is focused in the area of developing and testing culturally sensitive intervention models for American Indian populations. She has developed and tested the “Talking Circle” model that tests group processes and counseling to increase cancer screening among American Indians. She has also developed the train-the-trainers program for smoking cessation projects. Consumer advocacy, participatory research, and culturally sensitive interventions for the American Indian population are the focus of her research.

Marilyn Roubidoux, M.D.

Marilyn Roubidoux MD"Breast Cancer, American Indian, and Alaska Native Women" (April 2015)

Marilyn Roubidoux, M.D., is a professor of medicine in the Department of Radiology at the University of Michigan.  As a member of the Sioux and Iowa Nations, she has seen high incidences of cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native populations from both a personal and a medical perspective. As a researcher, teacher and physician, she is tackling the issue in a number of ways — including by drawing national attention to this health disparity and raising awareness within at-risk communities. Dr. Roubidoux’s two major areas of research are cancer among American Indian and Alaska Native populations, and breast disease. According to year 2000 statistics from the U. S. Department of Public Health and Human Services, cancer is the second leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives over age 45. A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that overall death rates for the four top cancers increased 67 percent among American Indians and Alaska Natives from 1990 to 1998. Early and accurate diagnosis is particularly important for those who lack insurance or otherwise have limited access to health care, and, as a group, American Indians and Alaska Natives are second only to Hispanics in terms of the percentages of each group who do not have health insurance. Dr. Roubidoux is widely published and lectures regularly on the topic of cancer in American Indian populations.  She is also a member of the Society of Breast Imaging, the Network for Cancer Control Research among American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the American Association of Indian Physicians.

Jackie Dionne

Jackie Dionne"Minnesota American Indians, Indian Tribes, and Health Disparities 101" (April 2015)

Jackie Dionne is director of American Indian health/tribal liaison at the Minnesota Department of Health. Dionne was recently appointed to the Tiwahe Foundation Board of Directors, to which she brings a wealth of experience working with the Twin Cities American Indian Community and previously serving on several boards that have been instrumental in the Twin Cities' community. Dionne has been extensively involved with the American Indian Family Empowerment Program (AIFEP) and is also a donor to the Seventh Generation Empowerment Campaign.

Jeff Linkenbach, Ed.D., and Jo Lightfeather

Jo Lightfeather

Jo Lightfeather

Jeff Linkenbach, EdD

Jeff Linkenbach, Ed.D.

"Honoring Native American Worldviews Through the Science of the Positive" (February 2015)

Jeff Linkenbach, Ed.D., is a research scientist, author and consultant who brings transformative thinking to help his clients achieve their full potential. Dr. Linkenbach is director and founder of the Montana Institute, where he is in high demand for applications of his Science of the Positive process for transformation. He has frequently used his expertise in the Science of Positive community norms to help Native American communities and tribal leaders address health, safety and risk-awareness issues.

Jo Lightfeather is director of the Learning Center at the Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center and serves as a representative to the Minnesota Indian Affairs Counsel's Urban Advisory Board. A member of the White Earth Nation, Lightfeather has conducted research on Native American historical holdings and on issues surrounding American Indian Boarding Schools and the effects on American Indian Elders.

Teshia Arambula Solomon, Ph.D.

Teshia Arambula Solomon, PhD"Promoting Indigenous Knowledge and Inspiring Indigenous Health Research, Scholarship, and Leadership" (December 2014)

View recorded presentation

Teshia Arambula Solomon, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine in the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona and was appointed co-director of the Native American Research and Training Center in June 2007. A Choctaw/Mexican-American, Dr. Solomon has over eighteen years of experience in health-related research and training involving Native American students in public health. She is principal investigator and director of the Faculty and Student Research Development program of the American Indian Research Centers for Health, as well as director of the research core. She serves as a co-investigator and co-director of the Native American Cancer Program research training initiative and as a co-investigator on the community outreach component with the Arizona Cancer Center. As a co-investigator for the Arizona Study Center of the National Children’s Study (DHHS Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), she is responsible for the tribal community engagement component. She is a founding member and past co-chair of the Native Research Network, Inc. She previously served as  director of the Southern Plains Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center at the Oklahoma City Area Inter-Tribal Health Board. She has been a fellow at Northwest Portland Indian Health Board and the Native American Research Centers for Health; and a National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities scholar. She has published research in cervical cancer prevention and control and is a co-author of two papers in the 2008 supplement to Cancer on American Indian/Alaska Native cancer. She is currently editing a book on the ethical conduct of research in Native American communities. Dr. Solomon has mentored students as a faculty member for more than 10 years and promoted research development by pursuing and providing funds for students to attend national meetings.

Jon Tilburt, M.D.

Jon Tilburt, M.D."Addressing Health Priorities of Tribal Health Directors with Surveys: Lessons from a Pilot Study?" (November 2014)

View recorded presentation on YouTube

Jon Tilburt, M.D., conducts research focused on improving care by affirming the dignity of patients and families, the integrity of health care professionals, and empathic care for all patients. He investigates challenges in and opportunities to improve patient-centered care. Dr. Tilburt studies topics including shared decision making, health care reform, integrative medicine and health disparities. Since 2008, he has been learning from and interacting with Native American communities on topics related to prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing and men's health. Dr. Tilburt helped created the website

Jackie Dionne

Jackie Dionne"Health Disparities and Social Determinants of Health Among American Indians in Minnesota" (October 2014)

View recorded presentation

Jackie Dionne is director of American Indian health/tribal liaison at the Minnesota Department of Health. Dionne was recently appointed to the Tiwahe Foundation Board of Directors, to which she brings a wealth of experience working with the Twin Cities American Indian Community and previously serving on several boards that have been instrumental in the Twin Cities' community. Dionne has been extensively involved with the American Indian Family Empowerment Program (AIFEP) and is also a donor to the Seventh Generation Empowerment Campaign.

Contact Us · Privacy Policy