Native American Research Center for Health (NARCH)

A Partnership for Native American Health

Click here for CA-NARCH update 2011 -2012

CA-NARCH LogoGreater tribal involvement in their healthcare · Recruitment of Native Americans into health and science careers · Research linked to the health priorities of Native Americans.
Thanks to an innovative, synergistic partnership among lead agency, Indian Health Council (IHC), San Diego State University (SDSU), and the University of California San Diego (UCSD), these laudable goals are now possible to attain.

IHC, in partnership with SDSU and UCSD, is funded as a Native American Research Center for Health (CA-NARCH) by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and Indian Health Services (IHS). It is one of 14 NARCH organizations in the United States.

Under the leadership of Dan Calac, MD (Indian Health Council) and Stephanie Brodine, MD (SDSU), CA-NARCH began as an exciting concept funded by seed money in 2001. A NARCH grant of $1.3 million in 2003 enabled CA-NARCH to begin fully pursuing its goals to strengthen tribal sovereignty over the healthcare of the community and to recruit and support students pursuing science and health fields.


CA-NARCH Mission

The mission of the CA-NARCH is to increase the number of Native American researchers and health professionals, and to decrease health disparities in the Native American populations in California. To this end, the CA-NARCH includes a NA Tribal IRB and is guided by a Community and Scientific Advisory Board.


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The Student Team:

Dan Calac, MD, IHC Principal Investigator
Stephanie Brodine, MD, SDSU Program Director
Geneva Lofton Fitzsimmons, UCSD Student Program Coordinator
Lucy Cunningham, MS, SDSU Project Manager
Shirleen McComack Administration

The Research Team:

Deborah Wingard, PhD, UCSD Research Director
Mario Garret, PhD, SDSU Principal Investigator
Deborah Morton, PhD, UCSD Principal Investigator
Roland Moore, PhD, UC Berkley Principal Investigator










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Pilot Project: Type II Diabetes

The first pilot research project of the young CA-NARCH is examining the risk factors and developing potential intervention strategies for Type II diabetes among young Native Americans, including youth involved with a local organic farm.

This pilot will …

  • Expand and evolve, thanks to expertise and funding from SDSU and UCSD.
  • Provide a basis for future research projects, aimed to produce risk assessments, data analyses, and intervention strategies to decrease health disparities in the Native American community.


Research Projects

CA-NARCH is committed to increasing the number of Native American scientists and health professionals engaged in biomedical, clinical, and behavioral research. Research efforts are intended to:

  • Reduce distrust toward research within the communities served.
  • Ensure that studies are conducted in a culturally sensitive and relevant manner.
  • Operate within the framework of an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Formed by the CA-NARCH team with inclusion of community members, the IRB oversees the efficacy and ethics of research studies.
  • Operate under the advisement of the CA-NARCH Scientific and Community Advisory Board consisting of academic experts and community representatives.


CA-NARCH Funded Research Projects:

CA NARCH Student Development (PI: Stephanie Brodine MD): Aims to increase number of NA students that enter/succeed in academia in the sciences and health related fields. Creation of student pipeline and mentoring program.

Caregivers of Frail NA Elders in SD (PI: Mario Garrett PhD): Investigating how the burden placed on NA caregivers is lessened by factors relating to their resilience.

Other CA-NARCH related projects:

  • Miha Nykmut (Living Well with the Help of the Creator): CA American Indian Palliative Care Education (PI: Diane Weiner PhD): Funded by the Lance Armstrong Foundation Community Grant Program. Incorporates anthropology, nursing, and public health research approaches in the creation, evaluation, and modification of pain, palliative, and end-of-life care training for health professionals serving CA NAs.
  • Preventing Underage Drinking by Southwest CA Indians: Building Capacity (PIs: Roland Moore Ph.D., Dan Calac, MD, and Cindy Ehler, Ph.D.): Funded by National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) under contract with Scripps Research Institute. Evaluate and assess underage drinking in 8-21 year old NA adolescents with the aim of intervention and reduction of underage drinking.
  • Smoking and Tobacco Assessment in Native Diabetics (STAND) Study (PI: Deborah Morton Ph.D.): Funded by the State of CA Tobacco Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP). Study of tobacco use patterns with tribal members and the development and implementation of a questionnaire of as well as the administering of blood tests to determine secondhand smoke exposure and type 2 diabetes status.
  • AIAN Adult Tobacco Survey for Rural American Indians (Collaboration with IHC/CRIHB/RSBCIHI)


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