AMP News Health & Science

UAMS Northwest Regional Campus Launches Pacific Islander Health Research Network, Earns Grant Funding

FAYETTEVILLE — To ensure health research about Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders reaches those populations, the Center for Pacific Islander Health at the Northwest Regional Campus of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has launched the Pacific Islander Health Research Network.

The network will disseminate results of studies and trials involving Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to health care providers delivering care to those communities.

Efforts to build the network were rewarded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The independent, nonprofit organization granted UAMS Northwest Regional Campus more than $230,000 to build and launch the network.

“This network will enable us to work as a group to bridge the gap between researchers and care providers,” said Nia Aitaoto, Ph.D., M.P.H., co-associate director of the Center for Pacific Islander Health. “We are looking to engage more principal investigators to do more research in these communities, bring together more tools for researchers to use, and to demystify research for care providers.”

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities are among the fastest growing racial and ethnic populations in the United States, yet remain one of the most understudied and underrepresented in all types of health care. This lack of research and its dissemination is a barrier to implementing culturally relevant solutions and reducing health disparities.

“Like our community health centers here in Northwest Arkansas, this network will allow providers, no matter where they are, to access the latest and most effective health research that will benefit Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander patients,” said Aitaoto.

“This grant will directly impact the lives of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders around the globe,” said Pearl McElfish, Ph.D., MBA, co-associate director of the Center for Pacific Islander Health. “Non-native health care providers working with Pacific Islander communities will be able to tap into the network for greater understanding of culturally appropriate and relevant health education and treatment.”

Aitaoto notes that the network’s creation is an opportunity to showcase the work being done by UAMS and partners like the Community Clinic in Springdale in conjunction with the Marshallese living in Northwest Arkansas.

“The work being done here in Arkansas can be replicated. The great work being done in other communities to address health disparities – all of that can be replicated and improved to benefit the Pacific Islander community and the health of its members,” added Aitaoto.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Myeloma Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,834 students, 822 medical residents and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or

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