AIREC strives to continuously encourage practical research to improve American Indian people's health status, increase the number of American Indian scientists and health professionals engaged in research, educate about the need for culturally appropriate health research within American Indian communities, and ensure tribes status as stakeholders in the process, along with increasing their own research/education capacity.
Science & Health: Ascertaining Research Education (SHARE)
The overall goal of the Science & Health: Ascertaining Research Education (SHARE) Consortium is to create, support, and sustain an institutional pipeline consisting of faculty, staff, and students from the following collaborative organizations: University of Nevada, Las Vegas, American Indian Research and Education Center (primary), College of Southern Nevada (partner), Fort Peck Community College (partner), Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (partner) and Stone Child College (partner). The pipeline will serve as a mechanism for increasing the number of underrepresented students transitioning from partner colleges’ Associate of Applied Science degrees towards achievement of four-year biomedical/public health degrees and direction towards subsequent, post-baccalaureate programs.
SHARE’s concentrated effort is to create a new generation of minority research scientists. SHARE believes that increasing a community’s interest in science will require more than just students. Achieving buy-in to the scientific enterprise requires not only for students to become excited about science, but also for the communities that are reflective of those students. The nation’s future scientific research workforce is dependent on a diverse pool of highly trained scientists and the direction that colleges take will have a direct effect on that outcome.
Short-Term Research Experience Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP)
AIREC is one of four national coordinating centers for the Short-Term Research Experience Program for Underrepresented Persons (STEP-UP). This current project aims to expose American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) current-year junior and senior high school students to the science of diabetes, endocrinology, metabolism, nutrition, and obesity through an eight-week summer research experience.
Life In BALANCE
In 2012, the UNLV American Indian Research and Education Center finished its community-based, participatory, translational research study entitled “Life in BALANCE” (Balancing Actions, Lifestyle, Autonomy, Nutrition, Community, and Environment). The two-year pilot project was conducted to better understand behavioral intervention; barriers to health care; cost-effective diabetes prevention, education and self-management; and the social, cultural, and political mechanisms that create disparities within the Las Vegas urban American Indian population. The study applied the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) intensive "lifestyles coaching" clinical research intervention with the goal of improving modifiable risk factors, to ultimately achieve good glucose control and to prevent diabetes.
Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools (DETS)
Preventing and reducing the onset of type 2 diabetes among American Indian/Alaska Native youth requires ground-breaking strategies to affect knowledge, attitudes and cognitive decision-making skills. In an unparalleled endeavor to address the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes in tribal communities, a K-12 Diabetes Education in Tribal Schools (DETS) curriculum was created by eight tribal colleges and three federal agencies. The DETS curriculum incorporates intensive treatment of science-learning goals and innovative, hands-on, culturally based pedagogical approaches that enhance the meaning of the science content, "learning science by doing science (Krajcik, et al., 2007)." This is accomplished through a variety of venues that support native culture as a construct throughout the curriculum.
The name DreamCatcher reflects the flow of positive empowerment for our native youth by providing skills for addressing life’s obstacles in the area of higher education and relevant health issues. This collaboration incorporated the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Health and Family Services, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) American Indian Research & Education Center. The DreamCatcher project enhanced the continuation of learning and a pathway to higher education for more than 60 American Indian students as well as their parents/guardians, in the Las Vegas area and the Moapa Reservation. Funding for this project was provided through the Lincy Institute at UNLV and the Milagro Foundation.
American Indian Ethno-Science Summer Institute
The American Research and Education Center at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, School of Public Health developed a summer institute program for American Indian Tribal college students. The institute introduced undergraduate-level students from four tribal colleges (Bay Mills Community College, Michigan; Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Minnesota; Fort Peck Community College, Montana; Stone Child College, Montana) to the field of public health. Students were also introduced to research methods and given them an opportunity to develop community projects that would be implemented within their tribal communities for eight months. The students then presented their findings at the annual 2008 American Indian Higher Education Consortium Conference.