Native American Research Outreach

The Native American Research Outreach (NARO) program of the Office of Health Disparities Research focuses on the health status, health treatment and health education disparities unique to the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. Coordinated by Wesley Petersen, Ph.D., assistant professor of oncology, NARO endeavors to create cooperative, working partnerships with specific tribes and tribal authorities, with inter-tribal organizations, with AI/AN health advocacy agencies, and with AI/AN health research organizations. NARO's approach to addressing tribal and urban Native health priorities is one of genuine partnership with the unique communities involved. These are partnerships that demand cultural competence and sensitivity, patient trust-building, and respectful navigation of tribal governance, regulation and custom.

The mission of Native American Research Outreach (NARO) is to use Mayo Clinic’s research and clinical experience to address the Upper Midwestern region’s tribal and urban Indian health priorities to improve health and well-being. To achieve this, NARO builds collaborative, mutually beneficial research and education relationships among tribal and urban Indian health leaders, Native research organizations, and Mayo Clinic investigators and educators. Native American Research Outreach (NARO) Brochure (Ojibwe Imagery) and Native American Research Outreach (NARO) Brochure (Dakota-Lakota Imagery).

To fulfill this mission, NARO is seeking nonbinding, nonexclusive partnerships between all of the region’s Native communities and the Mayo Clinic Office Health Disparities Research. The Office of Health Disparities Research through NARO currently has signed partnerships or agreements in principle with seven tribes and Native research organizations.

Signed partnerships:

Red Lake Nation
Lower Sioux Indian Community
White Earth Nation
Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
American Indian Cancer Foundation
Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council (Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center)
Mille Lacs Band

Collaborative health disparities research activities

OHDR is committed to responding to community-identified needs.  NARO, through a process of listening and collaborating responses, seeks to match AI/AN community health needs and priorities to the strength and interests of Mayo Clinic investigators wherever possible.  NARO uses Mayo Clinic's research and clinical experience to address tribal and urban Native health priorities,  and to reduce or eliminate disparities in the AI/AN communities' access to healthcare, quality of healthcare, and health status.  NARO's work with tribal or urban Native health leaders includes:

  • Informing Mayo Clinic investigators, clinician researchers, and educators about tribal health priorities.
  • Representing the tribal or urban health leaders to ensure that Mayo investigators and clinicians are responsive to the community's research and health-related education priorities.
  • Identifying Mayo Clinic investigators and educators with the skills, willingness, and sensitivity to work on the community's health-related priorities.
  • Assisting tribal or urban health leaders in designing and implementing studies.
  • Arranging for speakers and trainers to work with tribal or urban Native health agencies and to work with college students interested in careers in health-related research.
  • Assisting tribal or urban Native health leaders with training staff in the design and implementation of research.
  • Arranging for speakers to inform the community on progress in the prevention and treatment of diseases and on cost-effective health care.
  • Ensuring that Mayo Clinic investigators fully appreciate the cultural practices, daily life circumstances, and tribal sovereignty of the community, and to understand and appreciate the complexities of tribal and urban Indian health delivery and health care access.
  • Inform tribal or urban Native health leaders of funding opportunities to improve the community's health through research and education.
  • Assist tribal or urban Indian health leaders in the development of grant proposals.
  • Inform tribal or urban Native health leaders of Mayo-funded support for start-up projects involving collaboration with Mayo Clinic investigators.

Projects Facilitated by NARO

  • American Cancer Society project to identify theoretical health mediators that differentiate mammographic screening participation of adherent and non-adherent women. Principal investigator: Wesley Petersen, Ph.D.
  • Project to study follow-up testing patterns for men who have elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. Principal investigator: Jon Tilburt, M.D.
  • “No Squeeze Can Defeat Me: Mammograms for Life” study funded through the Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative of Minnesota Department of Health: uses interventions based on findings from a previous American Cancer Society project to improve mammographic screening in American Indian women who are not adherent with screening guidelines. Principal investigator: Wesley Petersen, Ph.D.
  • Potential collaborations: Projects on human papillomavirus (HPV) and on attitudes toward genetic testing. Principal investigator: Carmen Radecki-Breitkopf, Ph.D.
  • CBPR proposal to improve colorectal cancer screening. Principal investigator: Kenneth Wang, M.D., Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

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