HYBRID EVENT: You can participate in person at Baltimore, Maryland, USA or Virtually from your home or work.
Thomas Becker, Speaker at Cancer Conferences
Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, United States


Relatively few studies of cancer prevention and control or of cancer etiology among American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) in the United States (US) have included AI/AN investigators. AI/AN investigators in key roles in cancer control projects are needed to more effectively address the cancer burden in AI/AN communities. Welltrained AI/AN researchers will have cultural competency and will be viewed as trustworthy and credible by community members who will participate in, or be affected by, research projects. Building upon earlier success with 150 trainees, and 16 years of experience in this area, the overall goal of the Tribal Researchers’ Cancer Control Fellowship Program is to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and improve cancer survival in tribal communities through the efforts of AI/AN researchers. One specific goal of this program is to increase research capacities and build research skills among AI/AN investigators, so that they will be better prepared to design and implement cancer-related research projects within AI/AN communities. Forty (ten per year) qualified AI/AN researchers will attend a tailored three-week cancer control research training, receive follow-up support, including field support, distance learning opportunities, and mentoring. Cancer control research internships are provided to interested trainees who complete the three-week curriculum, so they can master additional research skills relevant to careers in community-based cancer control under close mentorship. To date, ten AI/AN research fellows have completed the training and have been receiving follow-up support. The Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board will soon host a second cohort of fellows. The cohort has already been identified and will participate in a similar training to cohort one. Tribes represented in these cohorts include Navajo, Blackfeet, Apache, Tlingit, Choctaw Apache Tribe of Ebarb, Zwolle, Louisiana, Yupiit of the Andreafski, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Course modules include: Research Design and Grant Writing, Cancer Prevention and Control, Environmental Health Studies on the Navajo Nation, Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention and Survival, Epidemiology, Grant Management, Big Data, Qualitative Research Methods, Dietary Interventions for Cancer Prevention, and Cancer Survivorship. Nearly all AI/AN researchers in the country have come through our programs. We are optimistic we will add to this pool through grant funded projects.


Dr. Becker is an epidemiologist with substantial experience in public health-related research in American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations. He has over thirty years of research and collaboration with AI/AN populations in epidemiologic studies and over fifteen years of experience in guiding education programs to increase Native researchers’ skills in designing and implementing chronic disease control projects. He serves as PI for the training activities for the NW NARCH. He assists with cancer control research at the NPAIHB and has completed several cancer linkage and other grant-funded cancer-related projects there. He has published numerous papers on health-related topics among AI/ANs.