In response to the need for research that supports Indigenous communities in determining how to approach genetic and genomic research, the University of Oklahoma (OU) collaborated with research groups based in American Indian and Alaska Native communities and sought funding to create a Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Research. Upon funding from the NIH’s ESLI Research Program in 2016, the OU CEER formally became the Center for the Ethics of Indigenous Genomic Research (CEIGR) , and continues to grow as a multidisciplinary research consortium focused on systematic inquiry into tribal concerns about genomic research.
The Center is founded on the collaborative working relationships between researchers at the University of Oklahoma and three research groups based in American Indian and Alaska Native communities led by Indigenous researchers: the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health’s Research and Public Health Division based in Ada, Oklahoma; Missouri Breaks Industries Research, Inc., an AI–owned private research organization based in Eagle Butte, SD; and Southcentral Foundation, an AN tribal health organization based in Anchorage, Alaska.
The structure of the Center represents an approach to research that is partner-centered, emphasizing equity and community control by distributing power and decision-making across all partner sites. The Center itself is always in a constant state of becoming, and we continue to grow with the addition of new partnerships. The Center for the Ethics of Indigenous Genomic Research stays committeed to a model of engagement and research that is inclusive of community-based investigators, respectful of tribal sovereignty, and prioritizes community-driven inquiries. We are also committed to growing the next generation of Indigenous scholars through our Genomics and Ethics Program for Native Students.