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Florida State nursing professor promotes Native American health equity

Dr. John Lowe’s work focuses on the unique health problems of indigenous communities, including alcoholism, obesity and heart problems. Photo courtesy FSU College of Nursing

TALLAHASSEE — A top researcher, professor and global advocate for culturally competent health care for Native Americans and indigenous populations has been added to the Florida State University School of Nursing staff and is already making his impact known.
John Lowe — a Cherokee Native American tribal member — is the new endowed McKenzie Professor in Health Disparities Research at FSU, and is in the process of creating the Center for Indigenous Nursing Research for Health Equity (INRHE).
Lowe, one of only 20 Native American nurses with a doctoral degree in the U.S., has been recognized as of the country’s “Edge Runners,” by the American Academy of Nursing, for his innovative leadership and ways of thinking about healthcare challenges.
The center (INRHE) will focus on local, national and international indigenous communities and will work with organizations to attain health equity for marginalized groups of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples.
The center will also encourage the belief that nurses should have a voice when deciding the nature and type of research being conducted in the communities who have not had their voices heard by the government or surrounding populations.
It is the first research center of its kind worldwide.
“Nurses in indigenous communities all over the world are delivering most of the healthcare,” Lowe said. “It only makes sense that nurses act as the catalyst for research.”
Dr. Lowe is widely known for his work with Native American substance abuse prevention, and with the funding he has received from the National Institutes of Health, Lowe is implementing and evaluating the “Intertribal Talking Circle”—an after-school intervention program to help curb substance abuse, which has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a promising, evidence-based program, preserving the well-being of youth populations.
“What we find within all indigenous, native or aboriginal populations throughout the world who went through a colonization experience tend to have similar health issues,” Lowe said. “The prevalence of these health issues are usually higher than any other group or population in that geographical region.”
As well as maintaining a focus on substance abuse, Lowe and other leading researchers will examine issues like diabetes, cardiac disease and obesity.
The recently endowed McKenzie Professor at Florida State has worked with disadvantaged groups in China, Australia, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and served as the John Wymer Distinguished Professor at Florida Atlantic University.
In addition, Lowe received the 2016 Luther Christman Award from the American Nurses Association.
“Dr. Lowe is an outstanding researcher and a passionate advocate for Native American health. He is an eminent scholar and global leader, who will have an immediate impact on our research agenda, our curriculum and our students,” said Dean of the FSU College of Nursing Judith McFetridge-Durdle.
As of this year, there are approximately 370 million indigenous peoples living in over 70 countries. At Florida State, Lowe plans to continue using his research on health equity to spread global awareness and to promote healthcare equality for all groups of indigenous populations.
“We are delighted that someone with Dr. Lowe’s experience and high level of accomplishment is joining our faculty,” said Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander. “His unique research on the health issues affecting indigenous populations will greatly complement the existing work being done by the college to further our knowledge of health issues affecting our world.”