Innovative Research

The Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy was established by Dr. Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan in January 2019. The CIHRP supports health equity for Indigenous people by conducting population health research, implementing culturally-appropriate interventions, developing and launching health sciences training specializing in Indigenous health using culturally-grounded frameworks, and fostering long-term relationships with university and community partners.

Innovative Research

CIHRP supports health equity for Indigenous people by conducting population health research, implementing culturally-appropriate interventions, developing and launching health sciences training specializing in Indigenous health using culturally-grounded frameworks, and fostering long-term relationships with university and community partners.

The Center for Indigenous Health Research and Policy (CIHRP) was founded by Dr. Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan in January 2019. CIHRP values relational vs. transactional interactions and bridges.

Native Americans (NA) experience substantial cardiometabolic health disparities: NA adults are 50% more likely to be obese, 30% more likely to have hypertension, and are twice as likely to have diabetes compared to Whites.

The food systems of many NA communities were disrupted when they were forcibly removed from their traditional homelands to reservations. Consequently, many NA communities had to rely on government surplus foods, which are provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and are a staple in the food systems of many NA communities.

Designed to augment a household’s food supply, the program is the primary source of food for 51% of NAs in rural and reservation areas where food insecurity, a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life, is three times more common than in the general US population.

Native Americans (NA) experience substantial cardiometabolic health disparities: NA adults are 50% more likely to be obese, 30% more likely to have hypertension, and are twice as likely to have diabetes compared to Whites.

The food systems of many NA communities were disrupted when they were forcibly removed from their traditional homelands to reservations. Consequently, many NA communities had to rely on government surplus foods, which are provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and are a staple in the food systems of many NA communities.

Designed to augment a household’s food supply, the program is the primary source of food for 51% of NAs in rural and reservation areas where food insecurity, a lack of access to enough food for an active, healthy life, is three times more common than in the general US population.

CIHRP identifies and partners with grassroots Indigenous community groups to highlight and uplift their efforts to create healthier food systems and food sovereignty.

CIHRP research priorities are moving towards land-based interventions, as studies highlight food as the connection piece between healing the land and healing ourselves. The focus is on the source of the food, which considers the holistic nature of the system, as opposed to disjointed components, when it comes to health and wellness.

CIHRP identifies and partners with grassroots Indigenous community groups to highlight and uplift their efforts to create healthier food systems and food sovereignty.

CIHRP research priorities are moving towards land-based interventions, as studies highlight food as the connection piece between healing the land and healing ourselves. The focus is on the source of the food, which considers the holistic nature of the system, as opposed to disjointed components, when it comes to health and wellness.

Our Staff

Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, DrPH
Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, DrPH(Choctaw)
Professor of Medicine
Director
Tvli Jacob, PhD, MPH, BA, AA
Tvli Jacob, PhD, MPH, BA, AA(Choctaw)
Assistant Professor
Director of Dissemination and Implementation
Tori Taniguchi, MPH
Tori Taniguchi, MPH
Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Research
Epidemiologist
Director of Data and Research

Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, DrPH
Valarie Blue Bird Jernigan, DrPH(Choctaw)
Professor of Medicine
Director
Tvli Jacob, PhD, MPH, BA, AA
Tvli Jacob, PhD, MPH, BA, AA(Choctaw)
Assistant Professor
Director of Dissemination and Implementation
Tori Taniguchi, MPH
Tori Taniguchi, MPH
Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Research
Epidemiologist
Director of Data and Research
Kaylee Clyma, MPH
Kaylee Clyma, MPH(Cherokee)
Research Coordinator
Kristina Gabriel, BS
Kristina Gabriel, BS(Cherokee)
Research Coordinator
Haley Harrison, BS
Haley Harrison, BS(Cherokee)
Research Assistant

Samantha Crewse, BS
Samantha Crewse, BS
Grants Manager

Susanna Lopez, PhD
Susanna Lopez, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Kaylee Clyma, MPH
Kaylee Clyma, MPH(Cherokee)
Research Coordinator
Kristina Gabriel, BS
Kristina Gabriel, BS(Cherokee)
Research Coordinator
Haley Harrison, BS
Haley Harrison, BS(Cherokee)
Research Assistant