Comprehensive NAU/AZCC Cancer Research Partnership
In the face of improved US cancer survival, cancer mortality in American Indians is increasing. Cultural differences make addressing this disparity challenging. The paucity of American Indian health care providers, almost none oncologists, compounds the situation. American Indian patients, unable to effectively communicate with providers, become isolated from cancer diagnosis and treatment and are rarely recruited into clinical trials. While the need for American Indian oncologists is therefore urgent, few American Indians enter health care professions. While most universities have dismal recruitment and retention rates, Northern Arizona University (NAU) has a distinguished history of graduating Native American students.
At NAU, however, there is no cancer research core to provide cancer education to American Indian students and communities. This partnership will link research programs of the Arizona Cancer Center (AZCC) with American Indian student training programs and environmental research at NAU. The objectives of this partnership are to (1) initiate robust cancer research at NAU to enhance faculty career development and train students in cancer research fundamentals; (2) create stable, long-term cancer research, education, and outreach collaboration; and (3) improve institutional effectiveness in impacting the disparity in cancer in American Indians of the Southwest. Research programs will focus on the carcinogenic effects of chemicals associated with the mining industry on reservations. American Indian students have a vital interest in the data. Thus this vested interest greatly enhances our potential to recruit and retain these students and to provide future American Indian cancer researchers and oncologists.