About Us

Promoting Healthy Native Communities Through Science and Service

A Tradition of Respectful Research and Training for Native People

The Native American Research and Training Center was established in 1983 by The University of Arizona Board of Regents to serve as a resource in health related research and training for Native American communities nation-wide. The Center is housed in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the College of Medicine.

The mission of NARTC is to provide training and technical assistance and to conduct respectful research to benefit the health and well-being of Native people, families, and communities. Because of our commitment to the realization of self-determination, one of the primary objectives of the Center is to promote active participation and partnership with Native American communities in all NARTC research and training programs. 

The History of the Native American Research and Training Center

In 1983 the University of Arizona (was officially awarded direct support from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) to establish a Native American Research and Training Center (NARTC). In response to this award, the University Of Arizona Board Of Regents formally recognized and authorized the establishment of the NARTC with permanent official status as a Center within the University.  The UA designated a full time tenured faculty position to the NARTC in 1984 for the Center director and purchased a 3150 square foot building with proximity to the Arizona Health Sciences Center for exclusive occupancy by NARTC staff.  Paul H. Skinner, Ph.D., former director of the Dept. of Speech and Hearing Sciences, was named NARTC director, and the Center was administratively placed under the Vice President for Research.

In 1986 the UA designated a second full time tenured faculty position to the NARTC in order to recruit and retain a Native American Director. Jennie Joe, PhD, MPH, was hired in the fall of 1986 as the director of NARTC, and Dr. Skinner became co-director.  In 1987, the NARTC was placed administratively within the Department of Family and Community Medicine (FCM), which is part of the College of Medicine at the UA. In June of 2007 Dr. Teshia Solomon (Choctaw) was brought on to replace the retired Dr. Skinner as co-director. In 2010, Dr. Solomon became director; in 2012, Dr. Francine Gachupin (Jemez Pueblo) joined as assistant director.


Fifteen years of NIDRR support allowed the Center to grow and establish a core of faculty and staff that obtained funding from other agencies to help sustain mission of the Center. The NARTC core staff broadened the scope of Center activities to include research and training programs in diabetes, substance abuse prevention, cancer, chronic disease, health policy, special education, and leadership training with funding from a number of NIH agencies and private foundations. The Center includes among its major accomplishments during this period the first national conference on cancer in American Indians, which was held in 1989, and the first national conference on Type II diabetes in AIAN youth. Proceedings from both conferences were published in peer reviewed journals.

1998 - Present

Since 1998, NARTC staff continue to broaden the scope of Center activities by engaging in research and training in a variety of areas including cancer and diabetes. Current projects include the AIRCH program, and the Partnership for Native American Cancer Prevention.