Director, Tribal Health Research Office

Job Summary

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Director, Tribal Health Research Office (THRO). This is an exciting opportunity to strategically engage NIH and tribal partners in biomedical research and coordinate scientific research within the NIH relating to tribal health. The THRO, located within the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI) in the Office of the NIH Director, coordinates tribal health research-related activities across NIH; acts as a convener to engage experts and representatives from across disparate areas and from across NIH to develop consensus policies and practices; serves as the NIH representative on tribal health related committees or working groups at NIH and across the federal government; coordinates and convenes the NIH Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) and manages information sharing to and from the TAC; collaborates with NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) and OD Offices on the development of reports, data calls, and other requests on tribal health topics; oversees information dissemination related to health research for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations; convenes NIH-wide committees, workshops, meetings, and other activities related to tribal health research and scientific priorities; develops and leads the NIH ICs in interpreting and applying the Tribal Consultation Policy; leads development of the NIH Strategic Plan for Tribal Health Research which sets the agency’s agenda for research serving the tribes; and works with NIH ICs to leverage resources or develop initiatives to support tribal health research. The budget for THRO in FY 2021 is $1.9 million, overseeing a team of six, which includes 1 Supervisory Health Science Policy Analyst, 1 GS-15 Health Science Policy Analyst, 1 GS-14 Health Science Policy Analyst, 1 GS-13 Program Analyst, 1 GS-13 Health Communications Specialist, and 1 GS-11 Staff Assistant. Estimated funding for NIH AI/AN research in FY 2020 was $226 million.

This Title 42 position offers a unique and exciting opportunity for a leader to execute and manage the daily operations in support of the THRO strategic vision and mission. The THRO Director serves as one of 11 Program Office Directors in DPCPSI and leads efforts to plan, coordinate, integrate and evaluate tribal health research and other activities conducted and supported by the NIH; leads development of a strategic plan for the conduct/support of tribal health research and related activities; and provides consultation, leadership, guidance, and direction with respect to the scope and direction of tribal health research to IC Directors, policy makers, AI/AN leaders and community members, and others interested in and affected by tribal health research. A key responsibility of the position is to provide leadership, direction, prioritization and coordination for the development and implementation of the NIH Strategic Plan for Tribal Health Research | FY 2019-2023. This plan encompasses the entire AI/AN research portfolio across a broad range of scientific disciplines. The purpose of this plan is to articulate NIH’s tribal health priorities, improve NIH’s relationships and collaborative efforts with AI/AN communities by enhancing communication and collaboration, building research capacity, expanding research, and enhancing cultural competency and community engagement. The strategic objectives of the plan are predicated on effective communication and collaboration through meaningful engagement with AI/AN communities and tribal leaders. The Strategic Plan relies on effective partnerships with community-based researchers, federal partners, and other stakeholders to successfully meet each objective. A key outcome from these partnerships is the ability to identify metrics for use in monitoring and evaluating the progress of research endeavors while enhancing the scope, research capacity, and training of the health researchers. This is an important step toward improving the health and health-related outcomes of Native communities and is a fundamental principle in NIH’s mission to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability, and to improve the health of the nation. 

The Director, THRO manages relationships and collaborative activities with national Al/AN organizations to inform and advance the mission and goals of NIH specific to promoting health and preventing disease among Al/AN populations. In doing so, the incumbent undertakes special projects and initiatives.  Activities relate to a broad range of tribal-health related research programs and issues in support of the DPCPSI and broader NIH mission.  The THRO Director serves as an authoritative resource for and provides advice on a wide variety of extramural and intramural research program and policy issues related to tribal health.  In addition to providing advice and guidance, the Director, THRO resolves challenges, e.g., that pose barriers to or that require further consideration of research with AI/AN communities, including rights, obligations, benefits, and concerns around data access and sharing; those involving hospital and other medical facilities at Indian Health Service locations; develops and interprets complex policies to address new and novel conditions;  and defends tribal health research policies before Congress, representatives of other governmental agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, private industry, academia, consumer organizations, and the scientific community.  Actions taken and solutions devised affect programs across NIH and national research efforts for Al/AN populations. The THRO Director provides authoritative scientific as well as tribal consultation policy leadership to the NIH Director, DPCPSI Director, IC Directors, and other agency leadership relevant to the entire NIH AI/AN research portfolio which encompasses a broad range of scientific disciplines and training. The THRO Director is viewed within the Department, nationally, and by the tribes as the key NIH official with expertise and authority on tribal health research and represents NIH on these matters.

The THRO Director provides leadership for and manages the NIH Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC is a 17-member committee composed of representatives, including elected tribal leaders of the 12 Indian Health Service Areas. To achieve the broadest coverage of NIH-related national perspectives and views, the TAC includes one representative for each of five National At-Large member positions. The TAC serves as an advisory body to the NIH, helping to ensure that Tribes and AI/AN people have meaningful and timely input in the development of relevant NIH policies, programs, and priorities. The THRO Director leads NIH-wide tribal health research efforts, including facilitating collaborations between and among the ICs. The THRO Director chairs the NIH Tribal Health Research Coordinating Committee (THRCC) which has broad representation from the NIH ICs and several OD offices. The THRCC serves as a catalyst for developing research, research training, and career development initiatives focused on AI/AN persons. The THRO Director leads efforts at NIH to educate and promote AI/AN cultural awareness among extramural and intramural staff. 

The THRO Director leads the development and implementation of the NIH Tribal Consultation Policy, an official government to government interaction, collaborates and coordinates directly with the Office of the Secretary (OS) in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other agency tribal liaisons, on HHS-wide tribal activities, particularly the Secretary's Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC), HHS Al/AN Health Research Advisory Council (HRAC), and the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs in the OS/HHS. The THRO Director identifies critical events that require tribal consultation, responds to request(s) for consultation, and coordinates the internal and external stakeholders and events necessary to facilitate consultation events, as well as leads NIH tribal consultations and organizes and conducts workshops, conferences, symposia, or similar activities for tribal health research to ensure appropriate and meaningful consultation with the tribes, facilitate communication among investigators and tribal communities, or to advise on the status of progress and emerging directions of research. 

Information about THRO is located at its website: Information about the National Institutes of Health in located at its website.

Required Qualifications

NIH seeks candidates with strong communication skills, who have a commitment to scientific excellence and the energy, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking necessary to lead a dynamic and diverse organization. Applicants must possess an M.D. and/or Ph.D., or comparable doctorate degree in a field of health science plus senior-level experience in tribal health research and related policy. They should be known and respected within their profession with a distinguished record of research accomplishments and leadership credentials.  Applicants must also have demonstrated experience in planning, implementing, and analyzing program objectives and priorities. Candidates should have demonstrated management acumen, including identification and management of financial and human resource needs; proven ability to make complex and strategic decisions to optimize resource usage, mitigate risks, and achieve desired results; and, the ability to build, mentor, motivate, and maintain a culturally diverse biomedical research workforce. Successful candidates should have knowledge of tribal health research as well as an exceptional understanding of the current and historical realities of American Indian and Alaska Native populations, including non-reservation based and urban populations.


The Director, Tribal Health Research Office will be appointed at a salary commensurate with his/her qualifications and experience. A recruitment or relocation bonus may be available, and relocation expenses may be paid. Full Federal benefits, including leave, health and life insurance, long term care insurance, retirement, and savings plan (401K equivalent) will be provided. The successful candidate is subject to a background investigation and financial disclosure report prior to the effective date of the appointment.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Selection for this position will be based solely on merit, with no discrimination for non-merit reasons such as race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, political affiliation, marital status, disability, age, or membership or non-membership in an employee organization. The NIH encourages the application and nomination of qualified women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

Standards of Conduct/Financial Disclosure

The National Institutes of Health inspires public confidence in our science by maintaining high ethical principles. NIH employees are subject to Federal government-wide regulations and statutes as well as agency-specific regulations described at the NIH Ethics Website. We encourage you to review this information. The position is subject to a background investigation and requires the incumbent to complete a public financial disclosure report prior to the effective date of the appointment.

Foreign Education

Applicants who have completed part or all of their education outside of the U.S. must have their foreign education evaluated by an accredited organization to ensure that the foreign education is equivalent to education received in accredited educational institutions in the U.S. We will only accept the completed foreign education evaluation. For more information on Foreign Education verification, visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) website. Verification must be received prior to the effective date of the appointment.

Reasonable Accommodation

NIH provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. If you require reasonable accommodation during any part of the application and hiring process, please notify us. The decision on granting reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.

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