Projects & Programs


ETHICS: Ethics Training for Health in Indigenous Communities Study: Research Team

Research Associate Professor Cynthia R. Pearson is the Associate Director of the Research Core and Director of the Methods Core at the Interdisciplinary Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI), where she collaborates with Indigenous scholars in the development of research policies and directs iterative data analysis on historical and cultural determinants of physical and mental health among American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Dr. Pearson is the Principle Investigator of ETHICS: Ethics Training for Health in Indigenous Communities Study (R01HD082181). She is also a former fellow with Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI) and is a member of the Advancing Indigenous Research Ethics in Practice and Policy Committee at the University of Washington. Her expertise is in designing tribally-based health studies from an ecological perspective that emphasize social, economic, political, environmental, and historical determinants of health.

Specifically, Dr. Pearson’s research focuses on the intersecting risk of substance use, historical and lifetime trauma, and HIV risk and how culture, place and community serve as protective factors. Dr. Pearson meets community members where they are and identifies community ways of knowing and resources to create innovative sustainable interventions. She is the principle investigator and co-investigator on multiple federally-funded grants using a community-engaged approach, closely collaborating with tribal communities across the US in the promotion of American Indians and Alaska Natives wellness.



Myra Elizabeth Parker, JD/PhD (Mandan-Hidatsa)  serves as Co-Investigator on the ETHICS project. She serves as Co-Investigator of a national epidemiology research study grounded in CBPR involving twenty-five tribal colleges and universities to establish alcohol, tobacco, and drug use rates within their respective communities through a mixed methods approach. She also serves as a Co-Investigator of an NIAAA R01 research study investigating the effectiveness of a culturally-adapted version of the BASICS intervention and a policy intervention. She has worked with both the National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center (NCAI-PRC) and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) through these projects and others, and has experience building working relationships with tribal organizations.

As an enrolled member of the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes, she is aware of the historical health practices and misconduct perpetuated on tribes in the United States, as well as other minority and disenfranchised populations. Her background in law and policy has informed a broader understanding of the principles of ethics as well as honed her ability to identify methods to address the disparities in research control and access through the use of formalized agreements. She has experience in working with tribes in their ongoing efforts to balance the collective rights of communities and individuals.



Celia B. Fisher, PhD, is the Marie Ward Doty Endowed University Chair and Professor of Psychology, and founding Director of the Fordham University Center for Ethics Education. She currently directs the NIDA-funded Fordham University HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Training Institute (RETI). The RETI has produced materials such as the HIV and Drug Abuse Prevention Research Ethics Resources website, with access to a continuously updated bibliography, downloadable faculty lectures, and NIH funding opportunities, and Research Ethics Scales and Measures, which contains evidence-based research ethics resources. She also oversees the production of her Center’s Ethics & Society blog.

Dr. Fisher is well-known for her federally funded research programs focusing on ethical issues and well-being of vulnerable populations, including ethnic minority youth and families, active drug users, college students at risk for drinking problems, and adults with impaired consent capacity. Dr. Fisher and her colleague Brian Mustanski were recently awarded a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health Disparities (NIMHD) on Ethics in HIV Prevention Research Involving LGBT Youth – the first grant on LGBT issues funded by the NIMHD and is a co-PI with Cynthia Pearson on 1R01HD082181-01. She was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Human Research Protection in 2010 and was named a 2012 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She is currently chairing the American Public Health Association (APHA) Ethics Section Committee on Revising the Ethics Code. She is past chair of the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code Task Force, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Studies Review Board, and the DHHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections Subcommittee on Children’s Research, the New York State Licensing Board for Psychology, and the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Common Rule Task Force. She has served as a member on the National Academies’ Revisions to the Common Rule for the Protection of Human Subjects in Research in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Planning Committee for the Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop on Standard of Care research, and the IOM committee on Clinical Research Involving Children. She is the founding editor of the journal Applied Developmental Science and the author of Decoding the Ethics Code: A Practical Guide for Psychologists (3rd edition, 2013, Sage Publications); co-editor of eight books, including The Handbook of Ethical Research with Ethnocultural Populations and Communities (2006, Sage Publications) and Research with High-Risk Populations: Balancing Science, Ethics, and Law (2009, APA Publications); and over 150 theoretical and empirical publications in the areas of ethics in medical and social science research and practice and life-span development.

Former Staff

Caitlin Donald, MSW (Osage/Ponca) worked as a Research Coordinator, Indigenous Wellness Research Institute Caitlin is a member of the Osage Nation and the Ponca tribe of Oklahoma. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Native American Studies from Portland State University. Caitlin received her Master’s degree in Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on social and economic development in American Indian and Alaska Native communities and nonprofit management and administration.

Caitlin, has worked as a social worker with Native communities in various capacities through her work at the Native American Rehabilitation Association (Portland, OR), Indian Center, Inc. (Lincoln, NE), Kathryn M. Buder Center for American Indian Studies (St. Louis, MO) and, most recently as a Research Associate at National Indian Child Welfare Association (Portland, OR) and Native Nations Institute (Tucson, AZ).