Sanford Research summit focuses on Native and rural health

By: Jacqueline Palfy .

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The health of rural and Native American populations will be the focus of an upcoming summit with Sanford Health.

The Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health will host its annual summit April 16-18 in Sioux Falls. For the first time, the Center for Health Outcomes and Population Research will also present at the event.

“The needs of our native and rural communities share many similarities,” said DenYelle Kenyon, associate scientist with Sanford Research and principal investigator for CRCAIH. “This kind of event allows for people from across the region to spend time together to search for commonalities, shared experiences and, ultimately, solutions.”

Speakers this year will focus on storytelling as a way to share information and experience as it relates to Native American communities, research and innovation. The summit, now in its sixth year, provides networking opportunities and features presentations from researchers and experts in the field of Native American and rural health.

Highlights include:

  • Rafael Luna, Ph.D., of Boston College will explain how researchers can use the structural aspects of storytelling and narrative to write research manuscripts.
  • Abigail Echo Hawk, of the Urban Indian Health Institute and Seattle Indian Health Board, will talk about how native populations are rich with knowledge, strength and resilience and how trust and reciprocal partnerships can help research and community.
  • Emily Griese, Ph.D.; Jessica Hanson, Ph.D.; DenYelle Kenyon, Ph.D.; and Arielle Deutsch, Ph.D.; all of Sanford Research, will talk about their projects related to substance use, education, risks and resiliencies in rural and Native American youth.
  • Several members of the research and native communities will share their personal stories of how building tribal research infrastructure has helped different populations.

CRCAIH was established in 2012. It brings together tribal communities, researchers and health care entities to address American Indian health through transdisciplinary research. CHOPR was funded in July 2017 through the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Health, Center of Biomedical Research Excellence mechanism focused on American Indian and rural health.

Five tribes from North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota partner with the program. CRCAIH has supported three large research projects and 15 pilot grants, with a focus on social determinants of health.

Registration is free and open to the public. For information, go to The event is at the Sanford Center, 2301 E. 60th Street North, Sioux Falls.

In September 2012, Sanford Research and its partners received a $13.5 million grant – the largest in its history – from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to create the CRCAIH.

About Sanford Health
Sanford Health is one of the largest health care systems in the nation, with 44 hospitals and nearly 300 clinics in nine states and four countries. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and serving the Upper Midwest, with nearly 1,400 physicians, Sanford Health is dedicated to several initiatives, including global clinics, genomic medicine and specialized centers researching cures for type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. Sanford Health has 28,000 employees, making it the largest employer in the Dakotas. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford over the past decade have transformed how Sanford Health can improve the human condition. For information, visit

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