UND Today

University of North Dakota’s Official News Source

David Wilson named new director of UND’s Department of Indigenous Health

Former White House senior policy advisor also will serve as University’s inaugural associate VP for health research

UND and the School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) have named David R. Wilson, Ph.D., as the inaugural Associate Vice President for Health Research and Chair of the School’s world-first Department of Indigenous Health. Wilson will assume the new roles on Jan. 1.

“It is an absolute honor to be selected to continue the outstanding work in health research ongoing at UND’s medical and health sciences college and across the university,” said Wilson, who was first introduced to the Department as a keynote speaker at the SMHS Indigenous Trauma & Resilience Research Center’s (ITRRC) first annual symposium in 2022.

A member of the Navajo Nation born to Tódich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan) and born for the Honágháahnii (One-Walks-Around Clan), Wilson comes to UND from Washington D.C., where he was most recently a senior policy advisor with the White House Council on Native American Affairs and previously served as the inaugural Director of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Tribal Health Research Office.

Wilson will provide strategic leadership and direction for all aspects of health research across the University as well as in the Department of Indigenous Health through his joint appointment in the office of UND’s Vice President for Research and Economic Development (VPRED) and School of Medicine & Health Sciences. As Chair, Wilson will report directly to SMHS Dean Dr. Joshua Wynne and work closely with UND’s new VPRED Scott Snyder.

As Professor and Chair, Wilson is responsible for the personnel, administrative, educational, and research operations of the Department of Indigenous Health. In this position, he will serve as a primary instructor, co-instructor, or guest lecturer for Indigenous Health Ph.D. and Master of Public Health (MPH) students and will serve as a mentor and academic advisor for doctoral students.

A major ITRRC effort under Wilson’s leadership will be to solidify and expand the School’s relationship with American Indian Tribes in the region.

“I am eager to begin working side-by-side with local Tribal communities to address health related challenges through education and research,” he added. “The United States of America and Tribal communities are relying on educational institutions like the University of North Dakota to produce the next generations of researchers and healthcare providers. These researchers and providers will discover and develop innovative health interventions and treatments to improve the quality of life for all Americans.”

Wynne agreed, calling Wilson a welcome addition to the team.

“I am so pleased that we have been able to recruit Dr. Wilson to serve as chair of the Department of Indigenous Health following the departure of inaugural chair Dr. Don Warne for Johns Hopkins University about a year ago,” said Wynne. “Dr. Mel Nadeau has done a stellar job as interim chair and I know that she is looking forward to Dave’s arrival in January. And given that Scott Snyder will join UND around the same time as Dave, UND’s research enterprise will be infused with new energy and talent in the very near future.”

Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology, both from Arizona State University.