Native American Cancer Prevention

Native American Cancer Prevention

Native American Cancer Prevention

The Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention (NACP) is a collaboration between Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona Cancer Center, funded through the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Partnerships to Advance Cancer Health Equity (PACHE) U54 mechanism.

The mission is to alleviate the unequal burden of cancer among Native Americans of the Southwest through research, training, and community outreach programs in collaboration with the communities we serve.

NACP monthly Insights Newsletters

UArizona Cancer Center Receives $6.85M Grant to Continue Native American Cancer Research, Training, Outreach Program

Programs are designed to facilitate the entry of Native Americans into biomedical research. Research projects include laboratory and community-based participatory cancer research focusing on the needs and interests of the communities we serve. All programs involving communities originate in those communities and are developed and implemented in partnership with NACP students and faculty. 

  1. Aim One: Build on NACP’s positive Native American-focused research trajectory to conduct research that addresses Native American community priorities and cancer disparities (Planning and Evaluation Core).
  2. Aim Two: Leverage this NCI U54 grant with institutional support to recruit and support additional early stage Native American investigators focused on cancer research (Administrative Core).
  3. Aim Three: Expand on NACP’s successes in workforce development by implementing a new shared resource, providing services and enhanced mentoring to facilitate the transition of early stage investigators to research independence (Guiding U54 Investigator Development to Sustainability Shared Resource).
  4. Aim Four: Broaden the exemplary cancer research education activities for Native American students by providing new undergraduate curriculum in cancer disparities, enhanced undergraduate to graduate transitional opportunities, and mentored graduate and post graduate level experiential research opportunities including guidance in developing and submitting National Cancer Institute Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) applications (Research Education Core).
  5. Aim Five: Continue building on the trust NACP has established with the Native American community partners by integrating community engagement principles into all NACP activities, providing more in-depth cultural competency training pertinent to the design and conduct of research, and facilitating the dissemination of the Partnership’s research findings and the National Outreach Network’s screening and education initiatives to Native American communities (Outreach Core).

The NACP provides a unique and valuable opportunity for collaboration with investigators and the Native American communities to address their health concerns related to cancer as well as providing advanced training programs for Native American students entering undergraduate and graduate research.

NACP Research

Cancer research projects that address the needs of the Native American communities and that build research capacity at NAU are solicited through a request for applications each year and are selected based on their relevance to Native American cancer health concerns.

  • To develop projects focused on cancer health disparities in the Native American communities of Arizona;
  • To bring together a team of investigators engaged in peer-reviewed collaborative research with the intent to build cancer research capacity at NAU;
  • To integrate research on cancer disparities into existing and future Cancer Center research programs through interdisciplinary collaborations;
  • To train Native American students interested in biomedical research. 

Outreach Core

The goal of the Outreach Core of the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention is to provide technical assistance, resources, programs and opportunities to Tribal/Community partners that include community‐led research/intervention projects, applying community‐based participatory principles and a socio‐ecological model to build Tribal and community capacity for implementing sustainable cancer prevention/control and cancer research initiatives.

  1. Aim OneIncrease Cancer Center and Northern Arizona University (NAU) researchers’ and students’ knowledge of Native Americans’ cancer burden, current cancer control programs, cancer-related needs, and health care systems to enhance institutional capacities to design sustainable, relevant cancer research and prevention programs.
  2. Aim Two: Enhance skills and competency of NACP-supported students and investigators regarding best research practices when engaging in research with tribal communities.
  3. Aim ThreeOffer an innovative dissemination academy to students and investigators designed to augment their abilities to apply and translate NACP research results through enhanced health care services and community-based education activities.
  4. Aim FourContribute to the National Cancer Institute’s National Outreach Network (NON) and collaborate with NACP’s Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to develop, prioritize, implement, and evaluate requested cancer-related activities to benefit Native American communities.

To accomplish these aims, the Outreach Core leadership and staff will collaborate with the other NACP Cores, notably the Research Education Core and the GUIDeS Shared Resource.

Outreach Publications for Conducting Research in Native American Communities

University of Arizona Cancer Center: Francine Gachupin,
NAU: Nicky Teufel-Shone,

Research Education Core

NACP Applications

Native Americans are the most underrepresented racial/ethnic group among physicians and scientists. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number one cause of death among Native Americans is cancer. This is in contrast to the majority population for which heart disease is the number one killer. Arizona has 22 federally recognized tribes and Native Americans make up 5% of the population. Thus the state’s universities are ideally positioned to train a greater number of Native Americans for biomedical careers. It is anticipated that this can be an effective approach to addressing cancer health disparities in Native American communities.

The goal of the NACP's Research Education Core is to increase the numbers of entering Native American students entering careers in cancer research and healthcare. 

  • Offer cancer disparities curriculum to students, mentors and other faculty as a joint effort between NAU and the Cancer Center.
  • Provide research experiences to further grow the Native American biomedical workforce. 
  • Promote and support applications from Native American graduate students and postdoctoral trainees for NCI's Continuing Umbrella of Research Experiences (CURE) pipeline. 

NACP Research Education Core Activities include:

1) summer programs to transition students from high schools or community colleges to the university
2) mentored projects with investigators conducting cancer-related research
3) summer internships at other institutions
4) development of an individualized career plan
5) attendance at national meetings focused on health research in Native American communities
6) mentoring sessions with Native American researchers as role models
7) a graduate programs primer that provides guidance on applying for post-baccalaureate degree programs.

Build Research Experience

  • University of Arizona - NACP/UBRP is a collaboration with the UArizona's Undergraduate Biology Research Program (UBRP). The summer research opportunity is offered to six UArizona Native American undergraduates. Participants work 35 hours per week for 12 weeks in the summer on a mentored research project. View NACP mentors, benefits and eligibility. Application opens October 1.
    • Summer: May-August
    • Application opens October
    • Application DEADLINE: February 1
  • NAU - Intro to Research aims to support four Native American first and second-year college students or first-year tribal/community college students with an introduction to the field of cancer-related research with the goal to transition them into a higher level of research.
  • NAU - Research aims to support four students to improve their preparation and training for biomedical and behavioral sciences at the PhD level. This includes continuation of research and exposure to cancer-related careers.

Exposure to Careers in Cancer Research

  • Graduate Programs Primer (GPP) - A mini-conference at the UArizona to provide students in NACP about UArizona graduate programs in biomedical and cancer research. This includes faculty and UArizona staff presenting on a variety of topics from admissions to financial aid as well as students touring laboratories and other related facilities, held in conjunction with the Undergraduate Biology Research Program poster session in January.  During the conference, students speak with representatives from post-baccalaureate degree programs. 
  • "My Journey" seminars - a speaker series during the fall and spring semesters that focuses on Native American professionals in the health sciences fields. The speakers will present their work and their journey through academia while also giving students the opportunity to gain motivation, network, and knowledge about the health-science field, interests, and/or educational endeavors.

Professional Development

  • Individual Development Plans (IDP) are created with each student to help in the transition from undergraduate to graduate and professional programs
  • Mentor NACP junior faculty and provide cultural competency training in partnership with the Outreach Core for all NACP faculty and staff. 

Jennifer Bea at

Carolina Pineda at

Hendrik De Heer at

Naomi Lee at

Tia Gramzinski at

GUIDeS (Guiding U54 Investigator Development to Sustainability) Shared Resource:

The GUIDeS Shared Resource will organize and facilitate a range of new services and career enhancement opportunities, primarily targeted for ESIs (Early Stage Investigators) and JIs. (Junior Investigators). The GUIDeS Shared Resource has been strategically designed to interface with the other NACP components to ensure services and expertise across NACP are available to ESIs and JIs. The ESIs and JIs will be fully integrated into the full range of NACP activities and research collaborations between NAU, Cancer Center, and the Native American communities it serves.

Specifically, GUIDeS will:

  1. assist ESIs and JIs through the process of developing a rigorously designed cancer research project and identifying potential funding opportunities;
  2. pair them with senior NACP faculty researcher mentors and other inter-institutional collaborators for the development of their projects and resulting grants and publications;
  3. navigate them through the university system in developing the regulatory, financial, and institutional requirements for conducting and submitting research to extramural agencies;
  4. afford opportunities to participate in grant development workshops and mock study sections as well as access to grant writing and proposal development services;
  5. provide biostatistics and bioinformatics support services as well as streamlined access to experts in Native American-based community engagement, specifically regarding research (Outreach Core); and
  6. support their development of effective organizational, time management, and research communication skills, e.g., seminar presentation and manuscript preparation.

  1. Aim OneSupport and enhance NACP-associated ESIs and JIs in developing competitive research projects for intramural and extramural funding focused on cancer research, notably in addressing cancer disparities among Native Americans.
  2. Aim Two: Provide ESIs and JIs with biostatistics and bioinformatics consulting and methodological support services in developing and analyzing cancer research and cancer health disparities research projects.
  3. Aim Three: Enhance ESIs and JIs’ organizational, management, and research communication skills.

Cancer Center: Ron Heimark,

NAU: Jani Ingram,