News & Events


April 9, 2014

“Collaboratory” Takes First Step

IWRI hosted a two-day “collaboratory,” a working meeting with IWRI / UW researchers and guests who serve as researchers at other academic institutions and community research institutions designed to identify potential research collaborations and sharing of research and training opportunities. Dr. Malia Villegas, Director of the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center (NCAI-PRC), and Dr. Shawn Wilson, researcher and training director at the Northern River University School of Public Health Department of Rural Health in Australia, participated in the collaboratory, held February 24 and 25, 2014.

The opening roundtable session provided attendees with the opportunity to share past, current, and future research and training projects and goals. Drs. Karina Walters and Tessa Evans-Campbell, IWRI’s founding directors, described the process of building IWRI from inception to the present day. IWRI began in 2005 with two full-time faculty and a half-time student assistant. As of 2014, IWRI employs five full-time faculty and about forty faculty and research support staff across the UW and within tribal communities. IWRI researchers prioritize indigenous ways of learning and knowing, while utilizing western research approaches for potential models.

IMG_0143    Dr. Villegas provided the priorities of the NCAI-PRC, along with specific projects and potential areas of focus for the upcoming year. The NCAI-PRC’s goal is to move policy and innovation through research by providing tribal leaders with the best information to make decisions and set up discussions at the tribal level within the context of cultural norms, values, and expectations. Tribal leaders elected to the NCAI Board identified the following strategic priorities this year: (1) regional scope and scaling of research and dissemination efforts; (2) focus on data infrastructure development and quality, as well as the ethics surrounding data collection and proper consents; (3) changing the deficit narrative to an emphasis on tribal successes; and, (4) a focus on dissemination to ensure research results are usable.

DSC_0106Dr. Wilson discussed many of the research initiatives based at the Department of Rural Health, including home medication reviews, medication adherence packs, culturally appropriate hemodialysis, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in aboriginal communities, and an innovative use of smart phone applications as part of the e-mental health roll out across Australia. Dr. Wilson intends to continue his exploration of indigenous research methodologies and connections to mainstream research. His interest lies in improved approaches to translating research into practice.

The collaboratory outcomes were positive, with a number of potential project ideas discussed. For example, IWRI and the NCAI-PRC committed to developing a training seminar to train IWRI researchers and other attendees on how to develop effective policy briefs using research findings; researchers and NCAI-PRC confirmed a common interest in working on research projects focusing on AIAN and disability as well as research projects focusing on elders; and, IWRI Research Training and Education Core members identified several potential initiatives focused on promoting AIAN research as a career for AIAN youth. The event provided an important opportunity to share ideas, discuss potential collaboration, and identify opportunities for future research.