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

By ChaseYavondaC

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; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.