Flagstaff, Ariz. – A Cherokee Nation Scholar from Arizona has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine based on her research focusing on indigenous youth in HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention.
Julie Baldwin, a Regents Professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Northern Arizona University, joins more than 2,000 elected members who work outside of government to “provide objective advice” on science, technology and health-related issues, according to the academy.
“This is an incredible honor,” said the CN citizen and professor in Flagstaff, Arizona. “It was humbling to be nominated.”
The National Academy of Medicine is one of three advisory bodies that make up the nonprofit National Academies. This year’s 100 new inductees, including Baldwin, have “demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service,” the academy noted.
“This extraordinary class of new members is comprised of exceptional scholars and leaders who have pioneered solutions to critical public health challenges, tackled social disparities, and made breakthrough discoveries,” National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. DeZau said in a statement. “Their expertise will be critical to informing the future of health and medicine to benefit us all.”
The Academy welcomed Baldwin based on his “internationally recognized, pioneering research” on community-driven HIV/AIDS and substance-use prevention interventions for Indigenous youth. Baldwin, who has spent more than three decades in health research, said she believes she is the first female Native American scholar at the National Academy of Medicine as well as the first woman at Northern Arizona University.
“I hope that I can help pave the way for other women, indigenous peoples and people of color to become members of this academy,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin, 60, earned a doctorate in behavioral science and health education from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1991. He worked at Northern Arizona University from 1994-2004 and then returned in 2015. During his career at NAU, Baldwin worked at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
In addition to his teaching role, he is the founding director of Northern Arizona University’s Center for Health Equity Research, which received a $21.4 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2017 to promote health equity and study health disparities. Population of the American Southwest. In September, the grant was renewed for another $21 million.
“NAU, where I’m from, is considered a Hispanic-serving institution, but we also have a focus on Native American health and community,” Baldwin said, adding that the grant funds are used to help address health disparities in that area.
At the research center, Baldwin is immersed in a collaborative project titled “Ending the HIV Epidemic in Rural Oklahoma,” or e-Hero, with colleagues from Purdue University, Oklahoma State University and Cherokee Nation Health Services.
“This is a study to try to eradicate HIV and other (sexually transmitted infections),” he said. “This particular project is focused on Native men and other men and is really about encouraging experimentation. It’s only a one-year program, but we aim to expand it.”
He added that he is interested in helping with other projects that affect Native Americans, especially youth.
“A lot of my work has been in substance-abuse prevention and treatment,” Baldwin said. “I want to do more work on behavioral health in the Cherokee Nation and other groups there.”
Baldwin’s mother, Jean Harding of the Cherokee Nation, lives in Tahlequah.
“My father was also actually a university professor,” Baldwin said. “He did his Ph.D. in physics, and then my mother got her degree in elementary education. So, my family has always been very focused on education.”