September 20, 2019

Diné College, UA to train future neuroscientists

Native Americans are one of the most underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences, according to the NIH.

brain fmri neuroscience Image of the brain created from data generated by functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
National Institute of Mental Health/NIH

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FLAGSTAFF — The National Institutes of Health has awarded Diné College and the University of Arizona a $1.3 million grant to train future Native American neuroscientists.

Native Americans are one of the most underrepresented groups in biomedical sciences, according to the NIH. And brain disorders account for more than a third of the most prevalent health problems in Indian Country.

This grant is intended to help address these disparities.

"You have a reductionist neuroscientist in a lab in Tucson they're going to be able to learn things from our students from our elders things that maybe they haven't thought about," Diné College biologist Fred Boyd said. "I'm tremendously excited to have that cross fertilization."

One challenge may be surgical or in-depth research is seen as taboo in Navajo culture.

Diné College faculty said they will encourage teachers and students to work with elders and medicine people in the community to better understand where these taboos come from and how to move forward with the research.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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