Diné College Hosts Diabetes Research Students

Nov 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 13-2: The Power of Partnerships, Tribal College News

Diabetes research students included (front row): Carla Frank, Rosebud Dupree, Niche' Wellman, Nicole Laughing, Megan Villagomez, Nastassia Becenti, and Alan Natachu. Back row: Terry Crowl, Joshua Lucio, Gerald Failing, Mindona Blackweasel, Eulalia Lee-Smith, Adeline Spotted Elk, Stormy Hulit, Diandra Benally, Julia Roanhorse, Roxanne Peterman, Shirleen Phillips, and Mark Bauer.

Amid the tinkle of sheep bells and the smell of sage brush and juniper trees, 16 Native American students representing 7 tribal colleges and 11 different tribes came together last summer to participate in a unique Diabetes Research Enhancement Program at Diné College in Tsaile, AZ.

Diabetes strikes nine percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives nationwide, and on some reservations it has reached epidemic proportions. Type II or adult-onset diabetes can be controlled, however, through lifestyle changes, according to Mark Bauer, Diné College math and science instructor and director of the program.

Diné College has been involving students in diabetes research for several years. (See TCJ, Vol. 11, N. 1.) Working with their partners at the National Diabetes Prevention Center- Southwest (NDPC-SW), they have collaborated to develop a model program for students in diabetes prevention research. “The partners believe that Native American students are more likely to develop an interest in diabetes prevention research if nurtured in a culturally supportive atmosphere,” Bauer said.

The partners have two goals: 1) to provide research training and research experiences to Native American students and 2) to provide students with a firm grasp of the conceptual basis of traditional Native American life, particularly in the context of Western academia. In addition, the students gained new insights into diabetes and research and participated in fitness activities to promote their own wellness.

During the first three weeks, students gathered at Diné College’s Tsaile campus to develop skills in research techniques. Instructors addressed topics such as public health, epidemiology, statistics, health promotion, disease prevention, and research methods. Then students were placed at one of the NDPC-SW partner locations to participate in a variety of ongoing diabetes prevention research projects, many involving Native patients. For example, one student went to a health center at Fairbanks, AK, and others went to distant tribal colleges. In September, seven of the students made presentations at the National Diabetes Prevention Center conference.

Diné College plans to repeat the Summer Research Enhancement Project next year. For more information, contact Dr. Mark Bauer (505) 368-3589 or email at <mcbauer @shiprock.ncc.cc.nm.us> or Alex Daniels, (505) 368-3553 or email at <adaniels@shiprock.ncc.cc.nm.us>.

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