Archived News


Rural Alaska Honors Institute

Summer Mentorship

Jynene Black made room in her corner of Bert Boyer's lab for a brand new high school graduate last summer.

It was part of collaboration with RAHI II Next Step, a section of the Rural Alaska Honors Insitute, and meant to give high school students in-depth knowledge of molecular biology, experience in a research lab and encourage students to major and graduate in the sciences.

For three weeks Tayesia Nick, of Pilot Station, AK, extracted DNA from dried blood, plasma, sera, and red blood cells.  Her experiment was to find which source gave better quality and quantity of DNA.  Her theory, which Black encouraged her to develop, was that the dried blood would provide the best genetic material.

"I don't get grossed out by blood," said NIck, who wore a lab coat, gloves and goggles while working with the samples, last summer.

It turns out all of the sample types could be used, Nick concluded at the end of her study.  She is now finishing her first year at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Black, a CANHR lab technician, said she plans to invite another RAHI II student to the lab this summer.  It's a chance to introduce someone to new possibilities in biomedical research.

"You can see when the light comes on in their eyes," she said.

How we use Facebook for sharing and caring. Can it work?

Monday, March 25, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will hold a meeting on Monday, March 25, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue.

The group will discuss “How we use Facebook for sharing and caring. Can it work?”

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225.

Beads and bagels

Saturday, March 23, 2013 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will a beading session on Saturday, March 23, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue.

The group is making beaded leather pins to give away at the upcoming American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. No experience necessary, just bring yourself, your creativity and your own coffee.

Hopeful Connections will supply bagels, instruction, materials and beads.

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225.
 

Physical Activity, Body Composition and Their Associations with Health in Yup'ik People

Ph.D. Defense by Maria Bray

Please join us for Maria Bray's dissertation defense on Wednesday, March 20, 2013, at Elvey Auditorium, 1:30 p.m. 

Bray is CANHR Director Bert Boyer's graduate student.

Provider profile: Dr. Joe Klejka

The Messenger, Feb. 14, 2013, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp.

Dr. Joe Klejka, one of CANHR's advisors and collaborators, was profiled in the YKHC's newsletter, The Messenger.

"YKHC's Medical Director Dr. Joseph Klejka says "sliding doors" led him to a medical career.

Read more...

PDF

Communities using new spin on tradition to help youths

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK, March 11, 2013

By Diana Campbell
A drum.
A basket.
The seasons.
The migration of game and fish.
The circle has always been an important symbol to Alaska Native people. In a suicide intervention research study conducted by the Center for Alaska Native Health Research in the Yukon Kuskokwim delta, the idea of the circle has come up again in the form of the qasgiq, or the men’s house.

Read more...

PDF

A shot of my life:

Growing up and going to college in the culture of alcohol

UAF student Lakeidra Chavis talks about the culture of drinking in college and interviews Monica Skewes, CANHR researcher.

"In college, I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that alcohol is harmless because everybody is doing it," Skewes said.

Read more here.

PDF

Farm to School: Perspectives of School Service Professionals

8:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 5, 201 Irving I

Johanna Herron will defend her masters thesis next month. Herron is Andrea Bersamin's graduate student and used CANHR data in her studies.

She was also CANHR's data manager before she took a job with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources as the Farm to School manager.

Hopeful Connections to discuss helping community

Monday, March 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 317 Wendall Ave.

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will hold a meeting on Monday, March 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue.

The topic of discussion is “Being there for ourselves and our community.” The group is also holding a potluck, so bring dish to share, please!

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225.


MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Campbell, at 907-474-5221 or via e-mail at dlcampbell@alaska.edu.
 

Cultural values help Alaska Native people cope with stress and trauma

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK, February 11, 2013

Denis Shelden left his Yup’ik family to go to school when he was 10 years old.   He was 19 when he returned home, Western education completed.

Yet he knew little about being Yup’ik, something he needed to know if he was going to live in Alakanuk. Friends and family made sure he learned.

“Other people in our community invited me to go along with them when they went hunting and trapping,” recalled Shelden, now 68. “They taught me about the animals, where to hunt them, where to catch them and how to take care of them. I was 10 when I left, and I was still 10 as a Yup’ik when I came back.”

Read more...

PDF

Hopeful Connections to meet about Relay for Life Fairbanks

Monday, February 18, 5:30-7:30 p.m., 317 Wendell Street

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will hear from Hannah Brice Smith. 

Brice Smith, chair of Relay for Life Fairbanks, will provide details of the upcoming June celebration of cancer survivorship. Hopeful Connections will have a team in the event. Relay for Life is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225.

*NEW!* Like Hopeful Connections on Facebook.

Native cancer support group gives residents a chance to tell their stories

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013

CANHR's Hopeful Connections makes the front page of our local paper. Hopeful Connections is a Alaska Native cancer survivor group, hosted by CANHR and Fairbanks Native Association.

Click here to read

PDF

CANHR student to defend thesis work in isotopes

Sarah Nash thesis defense poster.

February 4, 2013

It was 50 below when Sarah Nash arrived to the CANHR offices, fresh from England, to work with Diane O'Brien on isotopes found in Yup'ik foods.

Now Nash defended her work, "Developing stable isotopes biomarkers of Yup'ik traditional and market foods to detect associations with chronic disease risk,  Monday, Feb. 4, 10:00 a.m. at 401 IARC.

Hopeful Connections

February 4, 2013

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will hold a meeting on Monday, Feb. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue.

The group will discuss how to strengthen support for 2013.

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

Refreshments and door prizes will be available. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225.

New video explains CANHR and community relationships

Calricaraq: Being Healthy

Recently, Blueberry Productions and Talking Circle Media, along with Bert Boyer, Scarlett Hopkins and others completed a short video explaining how CANHR does human health research.

We invite you to share the video. Click here to view.

What's in your fish? Researcher studies contaminants and nutrients

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK, Jan. 21, 2013

By Diana Campbell
Center for Alaska Native Health Research

Todd O’Hara was only looking for tiny pieces of fish for his contaminant and nutrient study.

But people were interested in his research. Cup’ik people who live near the sea have a wide variety of food available, and they brought whole salmon, halibut, seal, as well as bowls of greens to O’Hara’s door.

“Their generosity overwhelmed us,” said O’Hara, who is an associate professor of wildlife toxicology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and researcher at the Center for Alaska Native Health Research.
 

“They were amazing,” he said. “We were up all night getting them ready for shipping and testing.”

Click for more (pdf).
 

Hopeful Connections

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will meet Saturday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building in Fairbanks.

The group will read and discuss a story about a family’s experience with colon cancer.

The Fairbanks Native Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks host the support group.

For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 907-452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 907-474-7318.

Hopeful Connections Holiday Gathering!

Monday, Dec. 17, 2012, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Strap on a pair of skis and scoot down to the Hannah Solomon Building for a Hopeful Connections Happening Holiday Party.

There will be prizes for the ugliest, funniest and snazziest sweater. Bring a $5 or less gift and a dish to share on Monday, Dec. 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue.

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors. Hopeful Connections is a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their friends and families.

For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.
 

CANHR to present at national health disparities conference

December 2012

A team from CANHR will give health disparities presentations at the 2012 Summit on the Science of Eliminating Health Disparities.

Bert Boyer, Scarlett Hopkins, Walkie Charles, Henry Lupie, Stacy Rasmus, and Billy Charles will represent CANHR with two presentations on the Center's take on Alaska Native people and the burden of disparities.

The 2012 Science of Eliminating Health Disparities Summit is an Health and Human Services-wide endeavor involving a broad spectrum of the federal government that seeks to advance activities to eliminate health disparities. The agenda will build on the momentum of the 2008 Summit and the increased interest of federal agencies to demonstrate their commitment towards improving the health of all Americans. The 2012 Health Disparities Summit represents an ongoing focus on emerging science and its intersection with practice and policy, while maintaining momentum on current national and international trends in addressing the social determinants of health.

Dance and cancer survivorship

Monday, Dec. 3, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will gather to discuss dance and its possible importance to cancer survivors Monday, Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Ave. in Fairbanks.

Dinghy Sharma [DIN-gee SHAR-muh] will share her knowledge about dance and dance therapy.

The Fairbanks Native Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks host the support group.

For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 907-452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 907-474-7318.

MEDIA CONTACT: Diana Campbell, at 907-474-5221 or via email at dlcampbell@alaska.edu.

Stable isotopes show what people eat

November 2012

Diane O’Brien, a nutritional ecologist, thought it was a no-brainer to use stable isotope signatures to discover what people are eating.

She used these naturally occurring markers frequently to study the diets of butterflies and other bugs. Stable isotopes as food markers are a commonly used tool for ecologists—those who study living things and their relationship with each other and the environment.

Read more...

Native health research center awarded $5.3 million grant

The Tundra Drums, Nov. 15, 2012

Alaska Native elder care research continues to be recognized

National Science Foundation, November 2012

The National Science Foundation has highlighted Jordan Lewis' work on aging among Alaska Native people on its projects webpage.

According to Lewis, aging well is centered on four basic elements: spirituality, optimism and emotional well-being, community engagement and physical health, the NSF noted.

Lewis was a graduate student for Gerald Mohatt, CANHR’s late director, and is now a Senior Research Fellow Trainee at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Lewis earned a Ph.D. with his dissertation "Successful aging through the eyes of Alaska Native Elders. What it means to be an Elder in Bristol Bay, AK."

He and research associate Keri Boyd recently discussed how community based participatory research worked in establishing trust with Alaska Native elders in Northwestern Alaska. The Native Village of Unalakleet approached the two to conduct a needs assessment for elders.

"That's true CBPR," he said. "Communities should reach out to you."

Click here to read the NSF highlight.
Click here to read Lewis’ latest publication.

Bray to give practice defense

November 20, 2012

Maria Bray will give a practice defense of her dissertation, "Physical Activity, Body Composition, and Health in the Yup'ik People," Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m. in 201 Irving.

Bray is Bert Boyer's Ph.D. candidate.

Hopeful Connections Thanksgiving Dinner

November 2012

Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones, will host a Thanksgiving Dinner with turkey, ham and goodies.

Bring a dish to share, if you like.

The dinner will be Monday, Nov. 19, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue.

The Fairbanks Native Association and UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are the support group’s sponsors.

There will be door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

Podlutsky joins CANHR

October 2012

Andrej Podlutsky has joined the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Podlutsky, appointed as an associate professor of molecular biology, plans to study DNA repair in Alaska Native people and how it relates to cancer. Alaska Natives have high rates of cancer incidences and deaths and Podlutsky hopes his research will shed light on molecular mechanisms that defends against, or, predispose to cancer.
He did similar work with Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute and Barshop Institute on Longevity and Aging Studies.
Podlutsky earn a Master’s of Science in molecular genetics at the Kharkov State University and a Ph.D in molecular biology, biophysics from the Institute Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics.
“Dr. Podlutsky brings a new level of research expertise to CANHR,” said Bert Boyer, CANHR’s director and also a molecular biologist. “We were impressed with his work in Texas and have confidence he’ll do great science on behalf of Alaska Native people.”

Andrej Podlutsky can be reached at 907-474-6759 or apodlutsky@alaska.edu

Lack of access to nutritious food a health issue in Alaska

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK, October 29, 2012

FAIRBANKS — In parts of the U.S., a person would be hard pressed to find a grocery store, said Ellen Lopez, a researcher at the Center for Alaska Native Health Research.

Fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy and grains — essential foods for healthy living — can’t be found for block after block.

“It’s called a food desert,” said Lopez, who is also an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

It’s also called a health disparity, she points out. A health disparity is social or economic barrier to good health faced by a certain group of people, and not faced by the majority, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Health disparities are unfair, unjust and avoidable, as well as a matter between life and death, according to a report by the World Health Organization.

Read more here.

It's always a good feeling knowing that we are not alone in our hardships

The Sun Star/UAF, October 9, 2012

For UAF Junior Ashley Strauch, combining science and philanthropy are part of her undergraduate research.

Strauch and her mentor Dr. Ellen Lopez are currently engaged in a research project that focuses on how Alaska Natives cope with cancer by hosting “Hopeful Connections,” a bi-monthly support group for Alaska Native people affected by cancer that is giving survivors and their loved ones a place to share their cancer experiences.

Read more.

UAF receives over $5 million to study Alaska Native health

KDLG Radio 670 AM/Dillingham, AK, October 8, 2012

The National Institutes of Health are giving the University of Alaska several million dollars to continue research into the health of Alaska Natives. KDLG's Mike Mason has the details. (3:36)

Listen here.

UAF's Center for Alaska Native Health Research gets $5.3 million grant

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, AK, October 7, 2012

FAIRBANKS — The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $5.3 million grant to the Center for Alaska Native Health Research in Fairbanks for the continuation of work in the areas of obesity, genetics, nutrition and cancer.

Read more.

Supercharged chew is a tradition in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Anchorage Daily News/Anchorage, October 7, 2012

BETHEL -- Jennifer Wilson, a dentist here, thought she knew chew. Growing up in tobacco-loving Kentucky, it was common to see men loading up on Copenhagen or Skoal. Women too.

Read more.

CANHR awarded $5.3 million grant to continue work

October 2012

Fairbanks, Alaska—The University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded $5.3 million to continue the work of the Center for Alaska Native Health Research.

The five-year grant is the final in a series of National Institutes of Health grants meant to build biomedical research infrastructure. The center has been studying obesity, genetics, nutrition, cancer and resilience in Alaska Natives for 11 years.

CANHR faculty and staff members will build upon previous research in order to become sustainable after the grant ends.

“The next five years are critical,” said Bert Boyer, CANHR director. “We have a good track record with our work over the last 10 years in Alaska Native health disparities. We have a great opportunity to add to our knowledge.”

Medical research is often slow, but methodical. In order to win competitive grants, scientists need preliminary data to build on, Boyer said.

To help researchers generate that preliminary data, CANHR will offer 12 pilot grants over five years to UAF scientists. The applicants must use at least one of CANHR’s services, which include administration, data management, community engagement and clinical support, as well as dietary and physical activity assessment expertise.

The pilot grant recipients also need to gain tribal approval to conduct the research with tribal members, and collaborate with a scientist from outside UAF who has a record of successful research.

The goal is for the new researchers to build a foundation of data so they can be successful when applying for large grants, Boyer said. CANHR has been moving in this direction since it began in 2001.

The $5.3 million grant is part of NIH’s efforts to balance research funding. Historically, states with medical schools and established biomedical research scientists would win the bulk of NIH funding.  Alaska, and 22 other states, didn’t compete well.

The NIH program, called the Institutional Development Award, has allowed CANHR to build research capacity and address health needs in the state of Alaska, said Fred Taylor, who oversees the program at the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

“The new phase of funding will allow the center to extend these activities, which include its pioneering community-based participatory research on metabolic disease and its efforts to foster the next generation of biomedical researchers in Alaska,” Taylor said.

About the Center for Alaska Native Health Research

CANHR is part of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and is supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number P30GM103325.

CONTACT: Bert Boyer, 907-474-7733 or bboyer@alaska.edu

ON THE WEB: http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Training/IDeA/

Alaska Native health center research focuses on building relationships

September 2012

By Diana Campbell

We want to provide meaningful information to the people who take part in our studies at the Center for Alaska Native Health Research. 

To do that, we respect Alaska Native participants and work with several Alaska Native co-researchers.

Yes, we ask participants a lot of probing questions about health, lifestyle, coping and resiliency.

But we also listen. And answer their questions.

To do our type of human health research means building trusting and lasting relationships.

“It’s those face-to-face meetings that are so vital,” said Bert Boyer, a molecular biologist and CANHR’s director. “If we didn’t have their contributions, our research would be missing valuable insight.”

Boyer has vowed he won’t abandon the relationships he’s made with Native people over the last 11 years. It takes a mutual trust for in-depth discussions of the health disparities Alaska Native people face, Boyer said.

Most of our research is in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta where we have had over a dozen projects. We are working in the Interior, too, and seeking to grow. At the direction of Alaska Native people, CANHR scientists are studying obesity, diabetes, genetic interactions, cancer, suicide, substance abuse and nutrition, among other things.

The way we do this work is called community-based participatory research. It is what CANHR was based on when it began in 2001 with an $11 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks, CANHR’s home, wouldn’t have had much of a chance to do this work before 2000. Much of the NIH’s research funds went to institutions with lots of infrastructure such as medical schools. Many small universities in resource poor states had a difficult time competing with the likes of Harvard University.

Setting out to change that, NIH introduced the Institutional Development Award program - a research capacity building program. This allowed UAF to apply and in 2001, the Center for Alaska Native Health Research was one of two new Alaska-based research centers funded through the IDeA program.

CANHR is now starting our 12th year. The first five years we spent building infrastructure within UAF and conducting research with junior researchers. In the next five years, and another $11 million we continued the work, but some of our junior researchers became NIH-funded senior researchers.

We have more than doubled NIH initial investment of $22 million by bringing in more research projects.   That’s one of the goals of the IDeA program, which is now administered by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

For the next five years, we are providing pilot project grants for UAF scientists who want to work with CANHR. We’ve received 14 applications and are set to make up to four awards in November.

We have impressive scientific backing from outside UAF. Over the last decade, we’ve established collaborative networks with other scientists, including those from University of Washington and Harvard, who work as mentors and collaborators.  

Among those who advise CANHR are scientists with long and distinguished careers. Dr. William Knowler is chief of the NIH Diabetes, Epidemiology and Clinical Research Section - a leader in the study of diabetes with his work with the Pima Indians.   Beti Thompson, a behavioral scientist and Washington State Academy of Sciences member, and Alan Kristal, associate head of the Cancer Prevention program, lend their expertise from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

H. Sally Smith advises CANHR on Alaska Native health issues. She sits on the National Indian Health Board of Directors and is the chairman of Bristol Bay Native Health Corporation board of directors.

All these connections have rubbed off on our researchers and participants. While they have always been good scientists, CANHR investigators are gaining reputations.

This fall National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities invited Boyer and Scarlett Hopkins, one of CANHR’s core directors, to give a presentation on community partnerships,

Henry Lupie, a co-researcher from Tuntutuliak, and Walkie Charles, a Yup’ik bicultural consultant and assistant professor of the Yup’ik Eskimo language at UAF will present with them.

“It’s appropriate for them to be there with us,” Boyer said. “We couldn’t have built the Center without the contribution of Alaska Native people.”

In the coming months, CANHR will provide details of our findings. For more information, visit http://canhr.uaf.edu

###

Diana Campbell is CANHR’s communication specialist. She is a tribal member of the Native Village of Venetie.CANHR is a part of UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology.

CANHR to provide health columns to local newspaper

September 2012

The Center, its researchers and projects will be featured in Fairbanks Daily News-Miner's Health page. The first column, explaining community-based participatory research and the funding reasoning of the National Institutes of Health, ran Monday, Sept. 17. The next column will appear Oct. 29.

5K run to benefit Troth Yeddha’ Park at UAF

September 2012

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is hosting the inaugural Troth Yeddha’ 5K Run for the Park Saturday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m.

The event will raise money for improvements at Troth Yeddha’ [trawth yedt] Park. It will begin at the park on Yukon Drive, next to the UA Museum of the North.

Registration is $20 and check-in is at 9 a.m. The first 100 registrants will get a Troth Yeddha’ T-shirt. Registration for UAF students who have a PolarExpress card is free. Registration forms are available at Play it Again Sports, Beaver Sports, Goldstream Sports and the Interior-Aleutians Campus Harper Building. The forms also can be downloaded from the CRCD website and turned into any of the locations listed. Early bib pickup will be Wednesday, Sept. 19, 4:30-7:30 p.m., at IAC Harper Building, 4280 Geist Road.

UAF’s Troth Yeddha’ Dancers will warm up the participants and Soaring Eagle Drum Group will perform at the finish line. Event coordinators will hold a drawing for prizes, including specials from the Lodge at Black Rapids, Chena Hot Springs Resort, Taste of Alaska Lodge, River’s Edge Resort, Bettles Lodge and Minnie Street B & B. Raffle participants don’t need to be present at the drawing. People who want a T-shirt and to participate in the drawings may fill out the registration without running or walking the course.

UAF’s Rural Nutrition Services Program, Interior-Aleutians Campus and the College of Rural and Community Development are sponsoring the race, which is also a Running Club North event.

The Troth Yeddha’ Park is being developed to celebrate Alaska Native cultures, particularly the Interior Athabascans, and to recognize that UAF is located on what once belonged to Athabascans, who called the hill Troth Yeddha’, meaning “wild potato hill.”

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Pete Pinney, race director, 907-474-7089, pppinney@alaska.edu; or Sarah McConnell, race director, 907-474-6080, ssmcconnell@alaska.edu.

Alaska Native cancer survivor group to meet

September 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks are now offering a toll-free number for people throughout the state to participate in Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will focus on spirituality and cancer and will be held Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building in Fairbanks.

The toll-free call-in number is 1-800-893-8850. The PIN is 5035971.

For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318

CANHR issues Request for Proposals

August 2012

The Center for Alaska Native Health Research has issued a Request for Proposals for pilot projects that are congruent with the goals of CANHR.  Three 2-year grants with an anticipated funding of $75K will be awarded, as well as one 1-year grant with an anticipated funding of $30K. The deadline for submission of Letters of Intent is August 31. For more information, please go to http://canhr.uaf.edu/project/Pilot.html.

CANHR undergraduate earns recognition for suicide study

August 2012

Chris DeCou, an undergraduate student of Monica Skewes, was awarded the Jens Peder Hart Hansen Fellow at the recent International Congress of Circumpolar Health.

He was recognized for his poster presentation, “Traditional Living and Subsistence As Protective Factors Against Suicide: Perceptions of Alaska Native University Students From Rural Alaska.” The presentation was the result of a study that looked at what students said about how suicide affected their lives, and was funded by Alaska EPSCoR. DeCou concluded that traditional and subsistence lifestyles continue to be included in intervention and prevention suicide programs.

DeCou’s abstract was selected by blind peer review and he received $500. DeCou recently graduated with a B.A. in psychology from UAF and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Idaho State University.

CANHR issues Request for Proposals

August 2012

The Center for Alaska Native Health Research has issued a Request for Proposals for pilot projects that are congruent with the goals of CANHR.  Three 2-year grants with an anticipated funding of $75K will be awarded, as well as one 1-year grant with an anticipated funding of $30K. The deadline for submission of Letters of Intent is August 31. For more information, please go to http://canhr.uaf.edu/project/Pilot.html.

 

Hopeful Connections to resume meetings

August 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting another meeting of Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 20. 2012.  The group will discuss “Cancer and Community Resources.”  The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue.

There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

CANHR researchers and colleagues part of international health conference

August 2012

CANHR provided 28 presentations or posters to 500 health researchers, physicians and policymakers from around the world who gathered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Aug. 5-10 for the 15th triennial International Congress on Circumpolar Health.

The bulk of conference activities began Monday, Aug. 6 with opening ceremonies and welcome messages from Alaska Native elders, university and community leaders and elected officials. Each day of the conferenceincluded keynote presentations by international health experts. Topics include the history and future of circumpolar health, domestic violence and suicide in circumpolar communities, health in indigenous communities, how health research factors into broad arctic research and large cohort studies in health research.

In addition to the keynote and plenary speakers, the conference will include daily presentations and poster sessions on a broad range of circumpolar health topics.

CANHR reported on biomedical findings in Alaska Native health, including cancer survivorship, college-age drinking, unique diet markers and Alaska Native community partnerships in research.

Additional information on the conference is available at http://www.icch15.com. Download program book

Free salmon lunch taste test

August 2012

The Center is offering a free taste of three different salmon recipes at the Tanana Valley State Fair this Saturday, Aug. 4, Noon-4 p.m. at the Kiwanis Agricultural Hall. The recipes may end up in school lunches and is part of the Fish to Schools research project.

You may try salmon patties, a salmon burger or sweet and sour meatballs. The event is being held with the "Can you Taste Local?" event sponsored by the the Farm to School project. They will be offering a blind taste test of locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers and broccoli versus mass produced products.

For more information about Fish to Schools, go here.

CANHR to host free salmon lunch taste test

July 2012

Jazlyn Herron has a discerning palate.

After a thoughtful chew of a piece of salmon patty dipped inyogurt sauce, the three-year-old Herron gave her approval with an enthusiastic thumbs-up. She gave the salmon meatballs the same nod.

Herron was part of a salmon recipe taste test recently conducted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Center
for Alaska Native Health Research.

The recipes’ next stop is the Tanana Valley State Fair as part of the “Can you Taste Local" event at the Kiwanis
Agriculture Hall Aug. 4 from noon to 4 p.m. The event is sponsored in collaboration with the Alaska Farm to School Program. In addition to salmon tasting, there will be a hand-washing activity for kids and a blind taste test between local and imported vegetables.

The fish taste tests are part of CANHR’s Fisheries to Schools research project, which aims to put more fish into school lunches and study how that affects the health of Alaska schoolchildren and communities, said Andrea Bersamin, the project’s principal investigator and UAF assistant professor.

“The goal is to find a way to support local fish businesses while providing a culturally important and healthy food for Alaska’s children,” she said.

The center, which is part of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, received a three-year, $1.1 million grant last year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the project. It will build on previous CANHR findings that traditional foods, such as fish, are rich sources of omega-3 fats and vitamin D and appear to have a protective influence on the health of the Yup’ik people who regularly eat them. The majority of the study will take place in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service test kitchen has developed standardized Alaska salmon recipes for the taste test. The tasting has been designed to involve children and the community in creating cafeteria selections students will enjoy. Jazlyn Herron was one of the first to sample the recipes.

Now, fair attendees have a chance to voice their opinion on what salmon entrée children might prefer. The study could provide a model for Alaska school food services to add Alaska salmon to the menus.

“It could be great for Alaska’s children and for local commercial fishing businesses,” Bersamin said.

CONTACTS: Andrea Bersamin, 907- 474-6129, or abersamin@alaska.edu, Diana Campbell, 907-474-5221, or dlcampbell@alaska.edu.

ON THE WEB: Fisheries to Schools

Study to look at Native researchers

July 2012

CANHR investigator Stacy Rasmus is joining Olga Ulturgasheva, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge, in a study that explores their experiences as indigenous researchers in indigenous communities.Both women work with Native youth in the Arctic.
"Our main concern is to come up with more effective and culturally responsive ways of working with indigenous youth," Ulturgasheva said. Furthermore the study will "expand the current debate on 'decolonization' and 'indigenization' of social research," she said.
The study could give the two Native researchers the ability to significantly contribute to anthropology, social and rural psychology and environmental health, said Rasmus, who is the project's principal investigator.
The $300,000, two-year project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Summer barbeque planned for Alaska Native cancer survivor group

June 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting another meeting of Hopeful Connections, a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, June 26.  Nancy Schupp, of the J. Michael Carroll Cancer Treatment Center, will speak about cancer treatment effects. The group will start at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue.

There will be a barbeque and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

CANHR researcher to look at Alaska Native college students alcohol treatment attitudes

June 2012

Lots of research has been done with U.S. college students who drink. That research has yielded many relevant education and treatment programs for students who want to drink less or quit altogether.

However, because this research has not given a voice to Alaska Native or American Indian students, it is difficult to know how AN/AI students feel about these programs.

CANHR researcher Monica Skewes has started a study to offer AN/AI college students the opportunity to share their thoughts and beliefs about alcohol education and treatment programs.

We want to know what YOU think. The information that you provide will be used to aid in the design of interventions for AN/AI students.

If you want to participate, go to www.uafstudy.com, and click on the "Alaska Native and American Indian College Students' Attitudes Toward Alcohol Misuse Interventions" link to see if you meet the eligibility requirement. If you do, Skewes or a member of her research team will schedule a time for an interview.

There’s a $25 Visa gift card in it for your completed interview.

For more information about Skewes’ work, go here…

Relay for Life a success for CANHR researcher and team

May 2012

CANHR’s Ellen Lopez reports that Hopeful Connections, the team she and Freda Williams of Fairbanks Native Association hosted, had a great time at the Relay for Life this past weeked.

The two women send their thanks for people who brought snacks, tables, chairs, blankets, towels and other things to make their tent cozy and warm. Some people brought cakes for the cake auction, which the two were pleased about. Lopez also appreciated the people who pitched in to watch Alejo, her son, as he played and explored the West Valley High School venue, where the cancer fundraiser was held.

"Lots of people came by to say hi, sit, chat, walk together, shope, play games," Lopez said. "Thanks to everyone!" Lopez's and Williams' team is an offshoot of their Alaska Native cancer survivor collaboration. They walked to honor cancer survivors and raise funds.

"Wow to Ashley Strauch, who walked 100 laps!" Lopez said. "That's 25 miles!"

The last total for the fundraiser was $256,000, short of the $285,000 goal. For more information about the Realy for Life, go here.

For more information about CANHR’s Alaska Native cancer survivor research program, go here.

Alaska Native cancer survivors to discuss caregivers

May 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue. The topic is “Cancer Caregiving and Caregivers.”

There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

UAF showcases new Kuskokwim Campus CANHR research facility

May 2012

A  little construction debris didn't interfer with the successful ribbon cutting ceremony for CANHR's new clinical research suite in Bethel. For more of the story, click here for KYUK's radio radio report.

Alaska Native cancer survivors to discuss traditional foods and treatment

May 15, 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, May 15th at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendell Avenue. The topic is “Cancer and our Native Foods.”

There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

UAF to open Bethel clinical research facility

April 25, 2012

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for Alaska Native Health Research will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new clinical research facility at the Kuskokwim Campus in Bethel May 3 at 4 p.m.

The 1,378-square foot research space will have rooms for long-distance teleconferencing, physical activity measurements, and nutritional data collection, among other uses. The Bethel facility has a mirror site at the UAF, also operated by CANHR.

The National Institutes of Health provided a $7.5 million grant to UAF in order to create the new spaces. About $3.8 million was used to build the Bethel facility.

“The new research suites show how much we value our relationships with research participants, whom we view as our research partners,” said Bert Boyer, CANHR director. “It is further proof of our commitment to work together toward elimination of health disparities among Alaska Native people.”

CANHR is part of UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology. Its investigators study obesity, nutrient and contaminant levels in subsistence foods, stress and coping, cancer, and substance abuse and suicide intervention and prevention. Over the past ten years, much of CANHR’s research has been in the Yukon Kuskokwim delta.

“The new facility will provide a physical space where Alaska Native people may go to help find solutions to many of the health problems our people face,” said Mary Pete, director of the Kuskokwim Campus. “This means so much to our people.”

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers will join Boyer and Pete for the ceremony. Refreshments will follow. The public is invited to attend. Contact Diana Campbell, 907-474-5221 or dlcampbell@alaska.edu to RSVP.

Research findings point toward genetic benefits of marine-based diet

April 2012

CANHR’s recent research findings bolster the idea that some Yupiit, who are remarkably healthy despite being overweight, are likely so because of their own genetic interactions with a marine-based diet.

In the recently published article in the Journal of Lipid Research, authors Dominick Lemas, and others sought to answer the question whether eating marine foods, such as seal and salmon, that contain healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids, could modify genetic risk for gaining too much body fat.

“Our results show that genetic variation in a gene called carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A and diets enriched with high levels of marine foods may help people burn more fat depending on which genetic variants in the CPT1A gene they carry,” Lemas said in an email explaining the findings.

Obesity is associated with a series of metabolic conditions clinically referred to as metabolic syndrome, which includes a large waist circumference, high blood pressure, high levels of fats in the blood called triglycerides, high blood sugar, and the development of Type 2 diabetes, he said.

“We don’t know what mechanisms allow Yup’ik Eskimo people to carry excess body weight without developing metabolic abnormalities,” Lemas wrote.

The findings merit further study, the authors say, as they provide insight into potential mechanisms that relate burning fat and to why Yup’ik Eskimo people are so healthy. It also shows that consumption of marine foods may increase the amount of fat a person can burn depending on their genetic make up. 

Dominick J. Lemas, Howard W. Wiener, Diane M. O'Brien, Scarlett Hopkins, Kimber L. Stanhope, Peter J. Havel, David B. Allison, Jose R. Fernandez, Hemant K. Tiwari, and Bert B. Boyer. (2011)

Genetic polymorphisms in carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A gene are associated with variation in body composition and fasting lipid traits in Yup'ik Eskimos. Journal of Lipid Research. (53) 175-184. doi: 10.1194/jlr.P018952.

For project information, go here.

Survivor group to discuss cancer photos

April 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, April 24 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue. The group will hear from four cancer survivors who will share photos of their experiences.

There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

Go here for more project information.

Position of privilege

April 2012

The gray fall evening settles quietly on Bethel as surely as an overnight frost.

Yet cabs, the nearest thing to public transportation in Bethel, rush up and down Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway. Across town at the Bethel City Council Chambers, city council candidates debate, among other matters, if the city should build an indoor swimming pool.

Inside the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center, home to the Bethel Public Library, a museum and multipurpose rooms, Teresa Flores, ’03, studies her small group of would-be cake decorators.
Read more (pdf)...

Alaska Native cancer survivor group third meeting to look at digital storytelling

April 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research are hosting a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, April 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue. Other meetings will follow in the coming months.

The Tuesday meeting is called "Telling our Stories of Hope Through Art and Storytelling."

There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 452-5225. For additional information, call Ellen Lopez at 474-7318.

Go here for more project information.

Historical Perspectives on Alaska Native Health Care

March 2012

CANHR held the "Historical Perspectives on Alaska Native Health Care," workshop on Thursday, March 29.

The workshop, part of continuing education for CANHR staff and faculty, featured H. Sally Smith as the keynote speaker. Smith is the chair of the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation board of directors, and an executive member on the National Indian Health Board.

She was joined by Lisa Jaeger, who will present the video “Tribal Nations: The Story of Federal Indian Law" and then follow with a discussion on Indian law in Alaska.

Miranda Wright spoke about the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and Paul Sherry explained the formation and purpose of Alaska Native health care organizations.

Jaeger is the tribal government specialist for Tanana Chiefs Conference. Wright is the director of UAF Alaska Native Studies Rural Development and a Doyon, Ltd. board member. Sherry is the former CEO of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, and past TCC health director.

The workshop was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, using American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Agenda

Alaska Native cancer survivor support group

March 2012

The Fairbanks Native Association and the Center for Alaska Native Health Research hosted a support group for Alaska Native cancer survivors and their loved ones.

The first meeting was held at 5:30-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 20 at the Hannah Solomon Building, 317 Wendall Avenue. Other meetings will follow over the next few months.

The support group will cover topics that Alaska Native cancer survivors have suggested during interviews, and community cancer gatherings. Those Alaska Native cancer survivors and loved ones are encourage to come and share experiences and wisdom, and to connect with other survivors.


There will be refreshments and door prizes. For transportation needs, call Freda Williams at 907-452-5225. For additional information call Ellen Lopez at 907-474-7318.

Go here for more project information.

CANHR "reasons for life" work featured on KTUU

March 2012

CANHR's innovative prevention work in the Yukon Kuskokwim delta has caught the eye of KTUU's television reporter Rhonda McBride. She produced a news story about a recent, and moving, Elluam Tungiingun and Qungsavik Project advisory meeting in Bethel.
Click here to view the news story.

Previously, the same work was mentioned in KTUU's two-part series on Alaska Native suicide, called" Village of Hope."
Part 1 Part 2

The series was followed by a statewide two-hour broadcast, called "Night of Hope."
Click here to view.

CANHR to attend Tanana Chiefs Conference annual convention

March 2012

We welcome delegates to Fairbanks for the 2012 Tanana Chiefs Conference annual meeting, March 12-15. This year's theme is "50 Years...Honor the Past; Embrace the Present; Dream the Future."

CANHR will have an information table. We'll be glad to answer questions, say hello to friends or meet new ones! Stop on by. The meeting will be at the Westmark Fairbanks Hotel and Conference Center. Click for agenda.

Barnes named fellow in science society

Brian Barnes, IAB Director, AAAS fellow

February 2012

Brian Barnes, Institute of Arctic Biology director, has been named a 2011 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Fairbanks, Alaska—University of Alaska Fairbanks zoophysiologist Brian Barnes has been named a 2011 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science.

Barnes was recognized for distinguished contributions to leadership in arctic science and research in hibernation and cryobiology: the study of the effects of low temperatures on living things. Barnes is the director of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology and the science director at Toolik Field Station.

An internationally recognized expert in hibernation, Barnes’ research focuses on physiological ecology and thermoregulation of hibernating mammals – especially black bears and arctic ground squirrels.

Barnes divides his research time between laboratory work on the UAF campus and fieldwork at Toolik Field Station, an international research facility located on Alaska’s North Slope. As director of IAB, Barnes supports the life sciences research of about 50 faculty members and 100 associated postdoctoral fellows, researchers and staff members.

Barnes is among 539 new fellows chosen nationwide for 2011. He will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette—representing science and engineering—at the AAAS annual meeting in Vancouver Feb. 18. He joins the ranks of more than a dozen Alaskans chosen as fellows over the years.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows, who are chosen by their peers, began in 1874. Members can be considered if nominated by the steering groups of the association’s 24 sections, by any three fellows who are current AAAS members or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

CANHR is part of IAB. Congratulations, Brian! 

ON THE WEB: http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/fellows/2011.shtml

UAF Chancellor’s Gala to benefit Center for Alaska Native Health Research

February 2012

The 3rd annual UAF Chancellor’s Gala, Dancing with the Cars, will raise funds for CANHR’s student scholarships and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital’s J. Michael Carroll Cancer Center. The festive event will be held Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012, 6:30-11:00 p.m. at the Fountainhead Antique Car Museum.

The tickets are $80 per person.

Suggested dress is 1920-1950 party attire. Here’s a link to help you start planning your outfit.
See you there! Quyana, Chancellor Rogers. For more information and to purchase tickets, go here.

1.4 million project funds suicide prevention efforts

December 2011

The Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has received $1.4 million to support rural Southwestern Alaska Yup’ik communities in their suicide and substance abuse prevention efforts. Read more here. For more information about the studies, click here.

CANHR researcher depends on community trust for elder care research

December 2011

Jordan Lewis, a CANHR research associate, will not gather biomedical data in a community and then leave, never to return or be heard from again, once a common practice for scientists.

Instead he will consider research participants as partners, asking for their direction and interpretation of the data analysis.

Lewis has learned this approach, known as community-based participatory research (CBPR), from CANHR and his Ph.D. work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“It’s about building trust, especially in a state this small,” he said. “People will start to associate you with sound, responsible research.”

Lewis, who received his doctorate from UAF in 2009, was able to put to practice CBPR for a recently concluded study commissioned by the Native Village of Unalakleet. The community needed a community needs assessment on elder care, a growing issue for older rural Alaska residents.

The national trend is to send elders into nursing homes or long-term care, but for rural Alaskans, that means leaving home and moving to Fairbanks or Anchorage.

The Unalakleet study indicates that aging rural Alaskans want to stay in their communities, he said.
“The results provide strong support for a much needed paradigm shift in the way long-term care is delivered in Alaska,” said Lewis and Keri Boyd, a CANHR graduate student, in a presentation at a November conference of the Gerontological Society of America.

Here are their recommendations for elder needs:

  • Rides to the clinic, the post office, grocery store and community-gathering place.
  • Meal deliveries, especially during the summer months.
  • Increased home medical visits for blood pressure readings, diabetes monitoring and other check-ups.
  • Respite care for elder caregivers and family members.
  • Home modifications for better accessibility and safety.
  • A local or regional long-term care facility or shared housing in a community.

In the end community members felt the study reflected them and what they had to say, Lewis said. The findings became theirs, and not just something he and Boyd did.

“It was a good experience,” he said. “More importantly, we got tribal input and because we respected them, they came to respect us.”

CANHR’s CBPR training has been funded the Workforce Development project through the National Center for Research Resources.  The Unalakleet study was funded by the Administration for Native Americans.

Lewis studies aging issues among Alaska Native people with CANHR and works on the From Their Perspective: Alaskan Grandparents’ Roles, Strengths, and Needs project. He can be reached at 474-7334 or jplewis@alaska.edu.

Found in translation: Decoding local understandings of genetics and heredity in a Yup'ik community

December 2011

Many scientific terms don’t have a direct translation in Yup’ik, so providing genetic research findings to those communities in a meaningful and culturally appropriate way has been difficult, report the authors of a recently published report on CANHR findings.

This becomes detrimental to community-based participatory research, in which a key component is disseminating research. The paper offers an exploratory look at where to begin developing ways to share appropriate genetic findings with Yup'ik people.

“Our findings suggest that concepts of genetics and heredity are, indeed, discussed within the community, even if strictly comparable terms do not exist in the Yup’ik language,” the authors said.

Kate West, who earned a masters degree from UAF, and the authors found that the use of several Yup’ik translators, who interpreted interviews from Yup’ik to English and back again, offered suggestions of how a community might think of genetics and heredity. 

Local community research assistants, health care providers, educators and elders could provide better insight on how they would discuss genetics in the community. Researchers could better frame their findings by understanding how community members talk with each other across age and language groups, and encouraging such discussions.

“This ‘co-learning process’ exemplifies key principles of CBPR,” the authors cite.

West is pursuing a Ph.D. in public health genetics from the University of Washington. She did her study in collaboration with CANHR investigators and CANHR President's Professor Kim Hopper, of Columbia University.

West, K.M., Hopkins, S.E., Hopper, K.J., Mohatt, G.V., Boyer, B.B. (2011). Found in translation: Decoding local understandings of genetics and heredity in a Yup’ik Eskimo community. Public Understanding of Science. Published online 14 March 2011. NIHMSID 289310.

CANHR leader insists on research justice while conducting indigenous peoples studies

November 2011

In a recent publication, Bert Boyer and colleagues make a strong case for involving indigenous research participants in the discourse, planning, process and dissemination of any pharmacogenetic studies impacting them.

It's a matter of justice, the authors say. The study of how drugs and genes interact is quickly growing, bringing the possibility of safely tailoring drug prescriptions to meet an individual's particular ability to metabolize them. To not identify all possible genetic variants found in different populations limits the provision of safe and effective drugs to the medically underserved, the authors argue.

But gaining access to an Alaska Native or American Indian community could be difficult given the “legacy of mistrust, derived from traditional research” and must be overcome. The authors cite a couple of egregious studies as examples.

The core values implicit to community-based participatory research call for scientists to make a long-term commitment to communities, to collaboratively set research priorities, build local capacity to address health priorities, return results in a culturally understandable format, and revisit communities to maintain a lasting partnership, the authors said. 

Boyer B.B., D. Dillard., E.L. Woodahl, R. Whitener, K.E. Thummel and W. Burke. (2011) Ethical Issues in Developing Pharmacogenetic Research Partnerships With American Indigenous Communities. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Volume 89 Number 3. March 2011. doi:10.1038/clpt.2010.303.

O'Hara adds his expertise to seal lesion discussion

November 2011

Arctic seals have been found dead or sick with blisters, lesions and hair loss, causing concern among numerous agencies, scientists, managers, Native hunters, and Arctic and Bering Strait communities.
The North Slope Borough and others have submitted a report on the seals to the NOAA Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events. Todd O'Hara, CANHR's veterinarian researcher, is a member of  the group.

The group will review the material to decide if the sickness will be considered an Unusual Mortality Event, and if so, then develop a response and investigation plan.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has posted a webpage explaining the seals' sickness and outlining safety precautions. The page contains several graphic photos of diseased seals.

http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/ice/diseased/

These links explains the Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events, of which Todd O'Hara is a member.

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/history.html

WGMMUME charter document: pdf

and more information is available at
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdfs/health

For information about O'Hara's CANHR work, click here...

11/28/2011

CANHR attends state's largest gathering of Alaska Native peoples

Sharon McConnel interviews Bert Boyer at the 2011 Alaska Federation of Natives
Photo by Diana Campbell

October 2011

We had quite a time in Anchorage last month while attending the Alaska Federation of Natives convention. We love meeting new people, hugging family and friends and explaining about CANHR research.

Sharon McConnell interviews Bert Boyer during live coverage of the 2011 Alaska Federation of Natives convention on Oct. 21 in Anchorage.

Click here for video clip courtesy of AFN (Quyana).

CANHR programmer completes epidemiology training

Jacques Philip, CANHR programmer
Photo by Diana Campbell

October 2011

Jacques Philip, CANHR's programmer, just earned a Certificate of Academic Confidence in Epidemiolgoy from the University of Michigan. His training was paid for by ARRA funds through the National Center for Research Services.

Philip is a medical doctor from the University of Paris. He is an avid dog musher and dog breeder.
The ARRA funds also provided an opportunity for Philip to complete a statistics graduate certificate at UAF. Philip's combination of computer programming, medical knowledge, epidemiology and statitistics will enhance CANHR scientists' ability to develop their research programs.

11/8/2011

UAF supports locally grown food

October 2011

CANHR's Andrea Bersamin competes against farmers during Food Day at UAF. Read more...

CANHR graduate student success: Sara Moses monitors mercury in Great Lakes fish

July 2011

Sara Moses, who was Todd O'Hara's student, earned her Ph.D. from UAF studying nutrients and contaminants in Alaska's marine food web. Now she works as an environmental biologist at the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Wisconisin. She'll be busy checking Great Lakes fish under a new three-year, $458,000 grant.

“You know, our goal isn’t to scare anyone or anything like that, discourage people from eating fish,” she said. “The goal’s really the opposite. What we want to do is try to inform the tribal members in how they can still consume fish, but do it in a safe way.” Click here for story

Alaska wild fish headed to rural school lunches

June 2011

It takes more than swimming through oceans and rivers for Alaska fish to land on school lunch menus. The fish know how to get to Alaska, but a new research team will study how to lure them into Alaska school lunchrooms. 

University of Alaska Fairbanks nutrition researcher Andrea Bersamin and her colleagues will begin studying the best ways to connect fishermen and processors with K-12 schools to provide wild fish to Alaska’s school children, provide opportunities for food systems and nutrition education, and support local businesses.

“The question is whether we can improve the nutrition and health of Alaska kids, many of whom eat two meals per weekday at school, and meet the economic needs of local fish businesses at the same time,” said Bersamin, a Center for Alaska Native Health Research nutrition scientist who is leading the project.

The center, which is part of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, received a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Fisheries to Schools project. It will build on previous CANHR findings that traditional foods, such as fish, are rich sources of omega-3 fats and vitamin D and appear to have a protective influence in the health of the Yup’ik people who regularly eat it. The Fisheries to Schools study will take place in the Yukon Kuskokwim delta.

There are a number of examples of schools using Alaska fish in school meals, Bersamin said, but this is the first time the idea will be subjected to scientific rigor. The CANHR project is based on USDA’s Farm to School project, she said. “It will connect kids to the local food system and how to use it.”

The Fisheries to Schools program has three major components: an economic feasibility study, curriculum and program development, and finally, an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program, Bersamin said.

The research grant includes money to purchase fish from fisherman and fish processors and provide it to school lunch programs. The type of fish and how it is prepared will depend on student and school preferences and availability.

“We will be doing a cost analysis to produce the product,” said Quentin Fong, seafood marketing specialist with UAF’s Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and Fishery Industrial Technology Center in Kodiak. “This way those businesses may get an idea of if there is opportunity out there to produce it and calculate the profit margin to see if we can move this product into the school system.”

Currently, about 1 percent of commercially caught fish stays in Alaska. If this new program is successful, more fish could stay in the state, Fong said. Researchers don’t know whether providing fish to schools is economically feasible for fishermen and processors, but the team could forward tax incentive proposals to policymakers if it is not, Fong said.

Bersamin and her team will study whether the plumped-up fish diet provides a nutritional boost for the students who participate in the program. If successful, the Fisheries to Schools idea will be developed for a statewide application, Bersamin said.

In addition to Bersamin and Fong, team members include Bret Luick from UAF, Betty Izumi from Portland State University and Pei Cathy Xu from California State University, Fresno . Research results will be made available via a website.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Andrea Bersamin, Fisheries to Schools PI, 907-474-6129, abersamin@alaska.edu. Bret Luick, UAF nutrition and foods specialist, 907-474-6338, bluick@alaska.edu. Quentin Fong, UAF seafood marketing specialist, 907-486-1516, qsfong@alaska.edu. Betty Izumi, Portland State University, 503-725-5102, izumibet@pdx.edu.

ON THE WEB: http://canhr.uaf.edu or http://www.farmtoschool.org

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