HHS Awards OSU Nearly $1 Million to Establish Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity

October 8, 2021
Press Release

Cheyenne, OK – Last week, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) announced nearly $1 million in funding to the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Center for Health Sciences for a new initiative to establish the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity (the Center) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“Throughout the United States, Native American and other Indigenous populations often experience higher health disparities and societal inequities. Oklahoma State University’s Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity will focus our state’s and our nation’s understanding on how structural inequities impact Indigenous populations while providing policy recommendations to remove disparities, helping Native American populations live longer and healthier lives,” said Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03). “Along with providing a better understanding of patient health outcomes, the Center will also increase health care access to populations throughout the United States and serve as a pipeline for Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander physicians wanting to serve their community. Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences continues to be a leader in providing health care for rural and underserved populations, and I’m proud they’ll continue that mission with the establishment of the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity.”

“Our district is the perfect home for OSU’s new Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity,” said Congressman Kevin Hern (OK-01). “Tulsa has a long and proud history as a hub of innovation in our great state, and that legacy will continue with this new Center. Across our state and country, the Native American population faces healthcare disparities; I’m glad that we’re doing our part to close that gap.”

“I am delighted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded nearly $1 million to launch the new Center of Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity Center in our state,” said Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04), co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus and member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. “This initiative will critically support a variety of efforts to research and better understand health disparities among Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities as well as identify solutions to improve the health and quality of life of these populations.”

“In Oklahoma and across the country, the health disparities Native Americans face is troubling. They have a lower life expectancy and a higher risk of chronic illness than other ethnic populations,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). “OSU’s new Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity will help address this problem and find solutions to improve the health of Indian Country. This is an important step in the right direction and I am proud OSU is investing in this initiative.”

The Center will support efforts including education, service and policy development, and research related to advancing sustainable solutions to address health disparities and advance health equity among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) populations.

The Center will coincide with the research and community partnerships currently being developed at the OSU Center for Health Sciences’ Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy.

In August of 2020, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and the Cherokee Nation established the nation’s first tribally affiliated college of medicine in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

“These programs and initiatives are another example of our commitment to work to transform the health and well-being of our Native communities and I’m proud that OSU and its Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy is at the forefront of these efforts,” Dr. Johnny Stephens, President of OSU’s Center for Health Sciences said. “I’m grateful for the support of our Oklahoma congressional delegation, as well as for those in Alaska and Hawaii.”

“The Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity is so important to the work we are doing at OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation to address physician work force development,” said Dr. Natasha Bray, Interim Dean, OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation. “Supporting the education of students in community-based and tribally-led research equips them with the knowledge and skills to care for our rural, tribal, and underserved communities in Oklahoma.”

“In the United States, both AI/AN and NHPI populations experience a high burden of health disparities and inequities,” said RADM Felicia Collins, M.D., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health. “Identifying the health disparities that impact these communities and the culturally-grounded best practices and approaches that work to reduce those disparities is essential to improving the health of indigenous populations throughout the country.”

Click here for more information about the Center.

 

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