Focused on Native American health and wellness.

CHI_logomark_finalFocused on Native American Health and Wellness: Reservation-Based Diabetes and Obesity Prevention

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) today announced the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation was approved for funding for the Native American Health and Wellness: Reservation-Based Diabetes and Obesity Prevention project.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) accepted only 17 percent of Tier I project proposals through the community building “Pipeline to Proposal” Awards program, which enables patients, advocacy groups, clinicians, and others who are not usual candidates for research funding to forge relationships around topics of mutual interest and together develop proposals for patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

Elizabeth Gross Cohn, Ph.D., RN, director of the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, which strives to bring together interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students from across the university to find innovative ways of creating a culture of health, community-by-community across Long Island, serves as the principal investigator for the project. Dr. Cohn, a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar, is also an appointed member of the New York State Minority Health and Health Equity Council, a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the New York Academy of Sciences.

“We are honored to have been selected to receive funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute for our work with UNITED,” said Dr. Elizabeth Gross Cohn, director of the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation. “This project exemplifies our mission at the Center for Health Innovation, to improve the health of communities by focusing on priority issues identified from the community. Our work harnesses novel partnerships and collaboration with experts in our region. We look forward to this work and to programs in the future that promote health and wellness for all of our residents in Long Island and beyond.”

The project, a three-way collaboration between the Unkechaug Nation, Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation and Winthrop-University Hospital Diabetes and Obesity Institute, combines the unique medical expertise and patient population to improve diabetes care on the Poospatuck Reservation in Mastic, NY. Co-investigator of the project is Harry B. Wallace, the chief of the Unkechaug Nation. Virginia Peragallo-Dittko, RN, BC-ADM, CDE, FAADE, executive director of the Diabetes and Obesity Institute at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, will serve as a consultant.

For decades, Winthrop’s Diabetes Education Center has provided people living with diabetes with the knowledge, skills and tools needed to successfully manage their condition and avoid complications. The Diabetes Education Center was the first nationally accredited outpatient education program in New York State and it continues to offer comprehensive education and support to adults and children with diabetes and pre-diabetes.

Native Americans develop diabetes at a rate of 33%–three times greater than Whites and twice that of African Americans. People of all races living with diabetes experience are two to four times greater risk of developing stroke, hypertension, kidney disease, dental and periodontal disease, and blindness. Recently, the members of the Unkechaug Nation have become increasingly concerned about the exponentially rising rate of diabetes on their reservation, as the numbers reflect the national trends. But a window of opportunity exists when lifestyle modifications can stop or significantly delay the progression of disease from pre-diabetes to diabetes type 2. These changes in diet and exercise are best initiated at the community–level, tailored so that they meet the needs of those who are using them.

The Unkechaug Nation’s Initiative to End Diabetes (UNITED) collaborative proposes to:

(1) outline a set of partnership steps for a community-based effort focused on education and lifestyle modification

(2) explore and design infrastructure for community-engaged research on the reservation

(3) develop a governance structure that would support applications for future funding opportunities

(4) formulate metrics for a measurable outreach plan

(5) develop a guide for other reservations who wish to adapt pre-diabetes and diabetes prevention programs.

To learn more about the Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation, visit For more information about diabetes care at Winthrop, call 1-866-WINTHROP or visit About the history of the Unkechaug Nation, go to their Facebook Page. For additional information about PCORI’s funding awards, visit

About Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation

Adelphi University’s Center for Health Innovation (CHI) is the primary resource in our region for innovative, multidisciplinary, evidence-based responses to improving healthcare, healthcare systems, and public health. It brings together many from professional and academic backgrounds to create and foster community-focused, interdisciplinary academic programming, healthcare research, community partnerships, and leadership—all with the goal of meeting current and emergent healthcare needs.

About Winthrop-University Hospital

Winthrop is a 591-bed teaching hospital located on Long Island in Mineola, NY. A major regional healthcare resource, the Hospital offers a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services delivered by an outstanding medical staff using the most sophisticated medical technology available. The Hospital recently opened a state-of-the-art 95,000 square-foot Research & Academic Center that includes core laboratories, a clinical trial center and classrooms for medical students. In addition to research on diabetes, obesity and the cardiometabolic complications that arise from those conditions, Winthrop’s new Research & Academic Center will focus on other pressing national and local health issues, including reducing premature births and treating conditions related to aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis.

For further information, please contact:

Todd Wilson
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