North Dakota students receive awards at American Indian Health Research Conference

Ryan Toledo, a second-year medical student at the UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences (UND SMHS); Marlinda Haudley, a second-year graduate student in public health at NDSU; and Andrea Kelsch, a senior with a double major in medical lab sciences and pathology at UND, were honored with the 2019 Alan J. Allery Awards at the seventeenth annual American Indian Health Research Conference. The awards honor outstanding American Indian graduate and undergraduate student health researchers. Selection criteria for the awards include the quality, impact, and significance of the research conducted by the nominee.

Toledo received the Alan J. Allery – Professional award. Toledo is an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Jemez in New Mexico. Carmen Priolo, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School nominated Toledo for his research focusing on analyzing transcriptional and mass spectrometry data to observe changes in the tuberous sclerosis (TSC) glycome.

“I was immediately impressed by Ryan’s perseverance, enthusiasm for medicine and science, and professionalism. He has a rich clinical research background for his young age,” Priolo said.

Toledo plans to practice medicine in American Indian communities.

Haudley received the Alan J. Allery – Graduate award. She was born and raised on the Navajo Nation Reservation. Shawnda Schroeder, Ph.D., research associate professor for the Center for Rural Health at the UND SMHS, nominated Haudley for her practicum research that focused on oral health and the benefits of preventative oral health services for disparate populations in North Dakota, including American Indian/Alaska Natives and individuals eligible for Medicaid. Haudley plans to attend dental school after completing her public health program to address health disparities.

“Marlinda is curious, passionate, and driven. She was eager to learn more about oral health disparities, tribal resolutions to address shortages in dental care access, innovative dental models, and the process of conducting sound and ethical research,” Schroeder said.

Kelsch received the Alan J. Allery – Undergraduate award. She is an enrolled member of the Mandan Hidatsa & Arikara Nation. Kumi Nagamoto-Combs, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Pathology Department at the UND SMHS, nominated Kelsch for her research examining changes in the brains of mice because of food allergens, particularly behavioral symptoms.

“Although Andrea was in my lab for a brief period of time, the work she performed in my lab had a big impact on the development of our current research directions,” Nagamoto-Combs said.

The awards are named in honor of the late Alan J. Allery, Ph.D., of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. Actively involved on the UND campus, he was an adjunct clinical assistant professor at the Center for Rural Health, director of the National Resource Center on Native American Aging, and director of Student Health Services. His experience included 30 years of work with American Indian people.

The awards are presented annually as part of the American Indian Health Research Conference in Grand Forks. The conference is sponsored by the UND Center for Rural Health, North Dakota IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), Minnesota Department of Human Services, UND SMHS Indians into Medicine (INMED) Program, Dakota Cancer Collaborative on Translational Activity (DaCCoTA), and the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI).

For more information, contact Marv Leier, communication manager at the UND Center for Rural Health, at 701.777.4205 or marvin.leier@und.edu.