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Sheila A. Caldwell
Ph.D.

Dr. Caldwell is a Program Director in the Divison for Research Capacity Building within the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Dr. Caldwell manages IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research (INBRE) and Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRA) grants. In addition, she directs the trans-NIH Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) program. Dr. Caldwell earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Oncology from George Washington University. Dr. Caldwell conducted postdoctoral reserach at the National Cancer Institute.

Andria Apostolou
PhD, MPH

Since 2014, Dr. Apostolou has served as the Indian Health Service National STD Program lead. She is also a senior epidemiologist with the Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention working on a variety of public health projects including immunizations and, currently, on Covid-19 response. Dr. Apostolou was previously with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Health Systems Integration Scholar and as an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer assigned to the New Jersey Department of Health.

Dr. Apostolou holds a PhD in Molecular Medicine from the University of Maryland and an MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Jonathan Davis
PhD

Dr. Davis is the Geospatial Data Analyst and Program Manager for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. He has held this position since 2014. Dr. Davis received his PhD in Geography from Arizona State University in 2020. His research interests include qualitative methods, evaluation, digital storytelling, geospatial analysis, community based decision making, and Geodesign.

Jamie Ritchey
PhD, MPH

Dr. Ritchey is the Tribal Epidemiology Center Director at the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc. She has held this position for over eight years and provides public health technical assistance and training for American Indian Tribes in the Indian Health Service Phoenix and Tucson Service Areas. She has advanced training and technical experience in epidemiology, design methodologies, social and behavioral health theory, grant writing and reporting, program evaluation, and chronic, infectious, injury, and behavioral health programming.

Frank Morgan

Frank Morgan is of the Salt Clan, born for Yucca Fruit People. His maternal grandfathers are Ledge of Mountain Clan and paternal grandfathers are Manygoats Clan. Mr. Morgan grew up in the Four Corners area on a farm and sheep ranch. He is a Navajo raised in the traditional way of life.

Mr. Morgan went to a BIA school and public school. He studied at the University of New Mexico, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and Fort Lewis College. His studies led to an ethnographic research career in which his knowledge of Navajo culture and language became his primary means in his work. Mr. Morgan is a translator, interpreter, curriculum writer, health educator, and organizational trainer. He believes that everyone should know how to speak, read and write his or her traditional language. Through the knowing of one’s traditional language can personal identity, strength and stability be instilled.

Rachael Tracy
MPH

Ms. Tracy is a proud member of the Navajo Nation. She received her M.P.H. from the University of Oklahoma and her B.S. from Arizona State University. Currently, Ms. Tracy serves as the Indian Health Service Health Research Director and Chair of the National Institutional Review Board. Her professional career has taken her down the path of 25 years of public service at the Indian Health Service, National Institutes of Health, California Rural Indian Health Board, and Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, where she has gained expertise in public health, community health, health education, and research translation and implementation science, and human research protections. Ms. Tracy has had the honor of working with American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Filipino, Latino, and African American communities throughout the United States.

David R. Wilson
Ph.D.

Dr. Wilson was appointed as the first Director of the Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) in January 2017. In this leadership role, Dr. Wilson brings together representatives from the NIH ICOs to leverage trans-NIH resources and build collaborations through the research portfolio to address tribal health concerns. He works to build a unified NIH presence with which to engage and ensure input from tribal leaders across the nation, and aims to expand training opportunities for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Dr. Wilson comes to the NIH Office of the Director from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health where he served as Public Health Advisor and the American Indian/Alaska Native Policy Lead.

Dr. Wilson graduated with a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from Arizona State University. His commitment to encouraging underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in science began when he was a graduate student and Regent’s scholar working with high school and community college students in the Four Corners area. Dr. Wilson completed a three-year postdoc, and served as a senior research scientist at the National Institute on Aging. He also serves as an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health at the Center for American Indian Health.

Arun Balajee
Ph.D.

Dr. Balajee currently leads the Technical Assistance team, Tribal Support Section in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) COVID19 response. She recently deployed to Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe to support the COVID19 response. Through the work with the Hope Tribe, Dr. Balajee and her reserach team published two reports in the CDC’s weekly epidemiological digest, The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 

When not working in the COVID19 response, Dr. Balajee is the Associate Director of Global Health Sciences in the Division of Viral Diseases in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC. Dr. Balajee leads a team of experts whose work includes setting up early warning surveillance systems in multiple countries to better prepare countries for the next pandemic if one arises.

Harrison Platero

Mr. Platero is Diné from Canõncito Band of Navajo. His homeland is located west of Albuquerque in New Mexico. He has been a member of the Native Research Network (NRN) since its inception. Mr. Platero beleives in the mission and objectives of the NRN organization to serve professional researchers and Native communities.

Mr. Platero has contributed his services to health initiatives and education. For over 25 years, Mr. Platero has served the community through efforts ranging from health promotion to disease prevention. He has also worked with Native American populations in the southwest by assisting other professional researchers with language and cultural translation.

Formerly, Mr. Platero worked at John Hopkins University. He now works at the University of New Mexico in the sporting events department, though he has been furloughed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He is also a research assistance with JHU with a focus on the prevention of obesity and diabetes among Native communities. 

Mariddie Craig
Panel Session: Traditional Indigenous Medicine and Research

Mariddie Craig is a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) of Arizona and currently works as Court Administrator within the tribal court system. She has worked for WMAT in a number of capacities for most of her career including as a tribal council member for 8 years, Council secretary, and an executive assistant to a former chairman. She helped establish the tribal radio station, KNNB. Additionally while living on the Navajo Nation she was human resource specialist for the Navajo Nation. She served as president of the National Indian Women’s Health Resource Center.

Ms. Craig was born and raised in Whiteriver, AZ and attended Scottsdale Community College, Brigham Young University in Utah and Hawaii, and Arizona State University.

Through an NIH NARCH grant, the WMAT and Johns Hopkins University (JHU) launched a student and faculty development program in which tribal scholars and health leaders participated in graduate coursework and workshops to design interventions to target key health disparities and to advance skills of Apache scientist-researchers to compete for future NIH opportunities. Ms. Craig served as PI on the NARCH grant that conducted community-based studies on suicide among youth, substance use, pneumococcal disease, empowerment to address health issues and strengthening mother-daughter relationships.