News & Events


November 1, 2013

Bonnie Duran, Director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research

BonnieSR1Bonnie Duran (mixed race Opelousas/Coushatta), Dr.PH, is an associate professor in the Department of Health Services, University of Washington School of Public Health and is also Director of the Center for Indigenous Health Research (CIHR) at the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute (IWRI, “At CIHR, our goal is to work with Tribes, Native organizations and allies to design and implement culture-centered descriptive and intervention studies to bring evidence to indigenous knowledges and methods. Many present-day health disparities can be traced back through epigenetics to a ‘colonial health deficit,’ the result of colonization and its aftermath.”

Dr. Duran also serves as the Director of IWRI’s Community Engagement Core, which was recently formed with IWRI’s designation as a National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities Center of Excellence.DSC_0253Dr. Duran received her Doctorate in Public Health from UC-Berkeley’s School of Public Health in 1997. She currently teaches graduate courses in Community Based Participatory Research, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention and Critical Theory.
Using indigenous theories to guide her work, Bonnie’s research includes intervention and prevalence studies of substance abuse and other mental disorders, violence, and treatment seeking in Native communities. She has worked in public health research, evaluation and education among Native Americans and other communities of color for over 30 years.

Dr. Duran just completed two National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded studies as Principal Investigator: [1] “Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU) Drug and Alcohol Problems and Solutions Study”; and [2] “Research for Improved Health: A Study of Community-Academic Partnerships.” [See the August 2013 issue of the IWRI Newsletter, pp. 6-7, for more details of these two studies.] Currently, she is Principal Investigator of two new NIH-funded studies: An epidemiological survey of the prevalence of behavioral health problems at TCU, a logical next step to the previous TCU alcohol and drug needs assessment study; and [4] A “Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students” in which six TCU will be selected for an adaptation of this widely-used (in mainstream colleges and universities) intervention. [More details on both new studies appear inside this issue of the IWRI Newsletter.]

Finally, Dr. Duran is also Co-Principal Investigator for the National Institute of Mental Health-funded “Indigenous HIV/AIDS Research Training” program.
IMG_0750The overall aims of her research are to work with communities to design public health treatment and prevention efforts that are empowering, culture-centered, sustainable and that have maximum public health impact. She has over 50 publications including articles in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and books.
“Working in Indian Country is rewarding, with tremendous opportunity for positive change,” Bonnie notes. “It is rewarding because many Tribes and Native organizations believe deeply in equity, culture-centered interventions and the truth of interconnectedness. Many fundamental Native values and ideas are at the forefront of environmental sustainability efforts and community-level wellness. Working with Indigenous peoples also provides an opportunity for tremendous change—Native community wellness is intertwined with issues of social justice and communities are working diligently for change.”
Bonnie’s future plans are to develop mindfulness- and indigenous presence-based interventions in collaboration with her community partners.