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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 4 | Apr. 3, 2003

Aboriginal Health Institute Names First Director

By Hilary Thomson

UBC alumnus Eduardo Jovel has been named the first director of the Institute for Aboriginal Health (IAH).

An ethnobotanist who came to Canada as a refugee in 1983, Jovel did his undergraduate work in agronomy and botany in his native El Salvador and in California. At UBC, he obtained his master’s degree in ethnobotany in 1996 and his PhD in mycology in 2002.

He has contributed to the teaching and development of curricula for aboriginal and minority programs offered through UBC and Cornell University, New York. His involvement in international research projects with aboriginal people includes teaching and research in Peru, Mexico, Canada, the Dominican Republic and the U.S.

“We have to create researchers to participate in this institute,” says Jovel, an assistant professor of Agricultural Sciences. “We need to attract and develop students who can build the research capacity of First Nations communities and we must offer a research approach that is holistic and includes research protocols that have cultural integrity.”

A collaboration of the First Nations House of Learning (FNHL) and UBC’s College of Health Disciplines, the IAH is unique in Canada because of its connection with an established centre for First Nations learning and support, says Jovel.

The IAH mandate is to improve communication between First Nations communities and the university, to develop researchers in aboriginal health and to increase the number of First Nations health-care professionals.

Work at the institute is supported by an Aboriginal Capacity and Developmental Research Environment grant of $1.5 million, intended to improve First Nations’ access to health research training programs and research careers.

An advisory council of First Nations members and UBC health science representatives as well as regional committees will reinforce links to B.C.’s aboriginal communities and help devise research questions.

The IAH will also assist with curriculum development, offer a summer program for First Nations high school students as well as provide training on health concerns to aboriginal community members, through a summer health institute.

For more information on the IAH, check the website at www.health-disciplines.ubc.ca/iah/.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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