BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Indian Health Service (IHS) and the
University at Buffalo have agreed to work together to improve the
health of Native Americans in New York State and Southern
Susan V. Karol, MD, chief medical officer for IHS, and Michael
Cain, MD, UB vice president for health sciences, have signed a
memorandum of understanding (MOU) that formally established a
collaborative relationship between UB and IHS.
Under the MOU, UB will work with IHS to develop an alliance of
regional public health and medical institutions to serve the
priority needs of Native American communities in the areas of
education, research, consultation and technical assistance,
capacity building and direct services.
One of the goals of the MOU is to pursue ways the university can
further assist Native American students who aspire to careers in
health care, according to Karol, a member of the Tuscarora Indian
IHS works in partnership with tribal communities to provide a
comprehensive health service system for approximately 2.1 million
American Indian and Alaska Natives who are members of 566 federally
UB’s relationship with IHS will involve all five of the
university’s health sciences schools (medicine, public
health, nursing, pharmacy and dental medicine), and builds upon the
schools’ existing outreach to Native American communities in
Western New York.
“The relationship will allow UB and IHS to work
effectively together to improve the health of Native Americans in
Western New York and throughout the state, as well as in Southern
Ontario,” Cain said. “Through this collaborative
agreement, UB will work with regional tribal leaders to develop and
offer robust public health programs to improve health and wellness
among Native Americans.”
Cain noted that the UB School of Public Health and Health
Professions and the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
currently work with the Seneca Nation on programs to assess and
improve community health and on a project that addresses childhood
obesity and diabetes.
As part of the MOU, UB will engage each of the local tribal
nations to understand their needs and facilitate mutually effective
relationships between all parties. Further, the MOU will
allow for the development of activities of mutual interest and will
represent a commitment by all parties to seek tribal nation
consultation and honor tribal nation sovereignty and
self-determination in carrying out activities.
The MOU outlined the following areas of collaboration.
- Cooperation with other academic institutions. UB will
work with IHS to develop an alliance of public health and medical
institutions focused on encouraging comprehensive research,
training and service activities by regional institutions to serve
the priority needs of Native Americans.
- Education. UB will work with IHS to expand graduate
education at UB for members of Native American communities aspiring
to health-related careers. The priority focus will be on
educational opportunities for Native American professionals who
want to be involved in community, regional and national Native
American health programs.
- Research. UB’s research agenda in support of the
MOU will be carried out in consultation with IHS and will focus on
health disparities and prevention strategies within tribal
- Consultation and technical assistance. UB will
provide expert assistance, particularly in the fields of
epidemiology, maternal and child health, infectious diseases,
adolescent health, health communication, environmental health and
- Capacity-Building. Community capacity-building, training
and workshops will be provided by UB to tribal communities as
funding resources are available.
- Direct Services. UB will provide various contract health
services and outreach programs to tribal communities promoting
health and well-being. These may include endocrine consultation,
behavioral health and chemical dependency, dental care and