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Q&A with the ANTHC Research department

December 20, 2017

What guides research at ANTHC?
Research at ANTHC addresses the health and well-being of Alaska Native people. The goal of ANTHC research is to provide information that will lead to healthier Alaska Native communities. Our researchers study trends and develop solutions for priority health problems. This is done in partnership with Tribal health organizations and communities.

ANTHC researchers also study factors that influence the health of Alaska Native families, such as the importance of clean water access in reducing communicable disease, how cancer screening and prevention can reduce cancer deaths for Alaska Native people, and how our traditional foods and environment impact our physical health.

What is research?
Research is a careful study to find facts and make conclusions. The goal of research is to add to our general knowledge about an issue.

How are Alaska Native research projects approved?
All research studies with Alaska Native people must be reviewed and approved before the study can start. Before any study can begin, the lead researcher sends the study protocol to the Alaska Area Institutional Review Board (AAIRB). The AAIRB is made up of volunteers, including several Alaska Native people, who review and approve research studies. These volunteers represent many points of view that can be considered in a research study. The AAIRB will review research protocols to make sure researchers follow federal rules that protect research participants.

The protocol explains exactly what the study is about; describes how participants will be identified; explains how people will be recruited and contacted; details what information people will be asked to share; and, explains how their information will be shared and protected.

The role of the AAIRB is to weigh the risks and benefits for people participating in a research study and ensure their rights are protected. The AAIRB also asks questions about how the study will inform the health of Alaska Native people.

After the AAIRB, the study protocol goes to the ANTHC Health Research and Review Committee (HRRC) for approval. The HRRC is an ANTHC Board committee. Approvals are also required from the other Tribal health organizations if the study includes people from their region.

Where do ideas from research come from?
Ideas for research studies come from many places. Sometimes communities find problems and ask for help to solve them. Sometimes problems are found when health data are reviewed. Whatever the reasons for a study, the goal of the research should always be to promote health so that Alaska Native people are the healthiest people in the world.

How do I get more information about research at ANTHC?
If you have ideas for a research study or questions about research at ANTHC, please contact Dr. Timothy Thomas, ANTHC Research Director, by phone at (907) 729-3095 or email at

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