American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities across the nation were — and continue to be — disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health disparities among AI/AN communities include an undue burden of infections, lack of access to health care and increased hospitalizations, and higher death rates.
To address the disparities recognized in these communities, the NIH has focused on supporting research projects that can increase our overall understanding of COVID-19 and its effects on AI/AN communities. In response to the May 2020 Tribal Consultation for COVID-19, NIH incorporated Tribal input into the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiative. This initiative aims to accelerate innovation in developing and implementing testing strategies for COVID-19 based on community-engaged research.
This week, three years since the launch of RADx, I am incredibly honored and excited to announce the launch of the RADx Tribal Data Repository: Data for Indigenous Implementations, Interventions, and Innovations (RADx TDR: D4I).
RADx TDR: D4I will establish a data repository consistent with Tribal sovereignty for researchers and their collaborators interested in working with RADx data provided by American Indian and Alaska Native research participants to better understand and address the impact of COVID-19 and other health disparities. Specific activities will include education and training programs on best practices for responsible data sharing and access, and constructing a secure repository to support data storage, access, harmonization, and monitored sharing of data related to COVID-19 testing and vaccination.
In support of American Indian/Alaska Native researchers and other scientists working with those communities, will fund efforts working toward a better understanding of COVID-19 impact and provide data to allow for data informed decisions and policy development in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and potential future pandemics.
The RADx TDR: D4I is supported under an “Other Transaction Agreement” (OTA) managed by ODSS, with six collaborative awards. The awardees includes Stanford University, the prime awardee, with Native BioData Consortium as project and research director, as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison; The Ohio State University; the University of California, Santa Cruz; Arizona State University; and the University of Washington, Seattle.
As ODSS Director and NIH’s Associate Director for Data Science, I want to express my sincere gratitude to everyone who played a part in this project — my colleagues at the NIH Office of the Director, the NIH Tribal Health Research Office (THRO), the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), and especially the participants of the Tribal consultations for their guidance and collaboration on this trailblazing project.
ODSS is deeply committed to partnering with Tribal nations to support data science activities that improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Across NIH, there is a growing number of Tribal health research efforts with an emphasis on trust, respect, and Tribal sovereignty. We look forward to the work of RADx TDR: D4Ias we continue to understand and address the impacts of COVID-19 and other health disparities.
To view the NIMHD statement on this announcement, check out the NIMHD Director’s Letter: https://nimhd.nih.gov/about/directors-corner/messages/nih-launches-radx-tribal-data-repository.html