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UAF's Center for Alaska Native Health Research gets $5.3 million grant

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Posted: Sunday, October 7, 2012 12:04 am

FAIRBANKS — The National Institutes of Health has awarded a $5.3 million grant to the Center for Alaska Native Health Research in Fairbanks for the continuation of work in the areas of obesity, genetics, nutrition and cancer.

The funding, which will encompass a five-year period, will be used to fund 12 pilot grants to researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, home to the Center for Alaska Native Health Research. The center is part of UAF’s Institute of Arctic Biology.

Scientists receiving the pilot grants must obtain approval of any tribes whose members they wish to study, according to a Friday news release from the center announcing the awarding of the NIH grant. They also will be required to use some of the center’s services.

NIH previously has given funds to the center.

The center will use the NIH funds to expand on earlier research, with the aim of having the center and its researchers in a better position to win large grants when this latest NIH grant ends.

“The next five years are critical,” Bert Boyer, the center’s director, stated in the news release. “We have a good track record with our work over the last 10 years in Alaska Native health disparities. We have a great opportunity to add to our knowledge.”

The $5.3 million grant, according to the center’s news release, comes from the NIH’s Institutional Development Award program. It is part of the NIH’s effort to spread money to more states rather than giving it primarily to states with medical schools and established research scientists.

Alaska and nearly two dozen other states have not fared well in the general competition for NIH funding, the center’s news release stated.

Fred Taylor, who oversees the Institutional Development Award program at the NIH, said the grant will allow the center to continue work such as the “pioneering community-based participatory research on metabolic disease and its efforts to foster the next generation of biomedical researchers in Alaska.”

Contact the newsroom at 459-7572.

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