10/15/2021

Indigenous-Led Biology, Designed For Native Communities

17:11 minutes

Monday was Indigenous Peoples’ Day here in the United States: a holiday to honor Native Americans and their resilience over many centuries of colonialism. Due to a long history of discrimination, Native Americans face stark health disparities, compared to other American populations. Illnesses like chronic liver disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases are much more common in Native communities.

This is where the Native BioData Consortium (NBDC) comes in. It’s a biobank, a large collection of biological samples for research purposes. What sets this facility apart from others is its purpose—the biological samples are from indigenous people, and the research is led by indigenous scientists. 

This is important, say the founders, because for too long, biological samples from Native people have been used for purposes that don’t benefit them. 

Joining Ira to talk about the importance of having a biobank run by indigenous scientists are three foundational members of the project: Krystal Tsosie, co-founder and ethics and policy director of the NBDC and PhD candidate in genetics at Vanderbilt University, Joseph Yracheta, executive director and laboratory manager of the NCDC, and Matt Anderson, assistant professor of microbiology at Ohio State University and NCDC board member. 

four native americans, three men, one woman, stand next to each other smiling at the camera, with a lake and lush landscape behind them
(Left to right) Native BioData Consortium board members Joseph Yracheta, Krystal Tsosie, Keolu Fox and Guthrie Ducheneaux Credit: Native BioData Consortium

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Segment Guests

Krystal Tsosie

Krystal Tsosie is a PhD Candidate at Vanderbilt University and co-founder of the Native BioData Consortium and in Phoenix, Arizona.

Joseph Yracheta

Joseph Yracheta is Vice President and Laboratory Manager for the Native BioData Consortium in Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

Matt Anderson

Matt Anderson is an assistant professor of Microbiology at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Segment Transcript

The transcript for this segment is being processed. It will be posted within one week after the episode airs.

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About Kathleen Davis

Kathleen Davis is a producer at Science Friday, which means she spends the week brainstorming, researching, and writing, typically in that order. She’s a big fan of stories related to strange animal facts and dystopian technology.

About Ira Flatow

Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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