Integrating clinical and cultural neuroscience to promote health and well-being
NIMHD Conversations with Researchers Advancing Health Equity
November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Celebrates the significant contributions made by representatives of indigenous communities to America from history to the present, and recognizes researchers who advance health equity through their work advancing the science of minority health and health disparities .
Meet Dr. Evan J. White, Principal Investigator of Minority Health and Health Disparities Studies.
Dr. White is a Principal Investigator at the Institute for Brain Research Laureate (LIBR) and Director of the Native American Studies and EEG Core. He was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is of Shawnee and Eastern Oklahoma Shawnee descent. He is a registered member of the Absentee of Oklahoma He Shawnee Tribe and belongs to the Shawnee Chapter of the Native American Church of Oklahoma and the White Oak He Shawnee Ceremonial Grounds.
Dr. White’s graduate work focused on using psychophysiological techniques to test predictions from cognitive models of mood and anxiety disorders. His clinical training was as a generalist clinical science with an emphasis on adult outpatient treatment of anxiety, mood, and trauma-related disorders using evidence-based psychotherapeutic approaches. He completed his pre-doctoral clinical internship at the Charleston Consortium (South Carolina Medical College/Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center) in Charleston, South Carolina, where he worked with his research supervisor, Lisa McTeigue, Ph.D. worked closely with
In July 2022, Dr. White assumed his current position at LIBR. In this role, his work focuses on employing clinical and cultural neuroscience to improve mental health outcomes in Native American communities.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Oklahoma State University and also received Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Clinical Psychology from Oklahoma State University under the guidance of Dr. Demond M. Grant.
Q&A with Dr. White
What inspired you to become a researcher on minority health, health inequalities, and health equity?
My inspiration for working towards health equity and addressing mental health disparities is rooted in my identity as a Shawnee male. I am motivated by a personal commitment to helping the communities I serve to improve the health and well-being of those I serve.
The scientific and medical community knows that mental health risk factors disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minority communities. Like many Indigenous people, I have seen first-hand the effects of suicide, substance abuse and addiction in my own community. We’ve seen strength and resilience. It’s important to leverage the assets that exist within communities to develop a community-based understanding of the treatment and prevention of various mental health conditions.
What are your research goals, objectives, objectives?
I have two research objectives.
- Establish a functional framework for the protective role of cultural engagement against mental health deterioration.
- It may identify neuroscientific signatures of cultural protective factors and enhance culture-based prevention and intervention efforts.
A central focus of this research is to implement multimodal neuroscience and psychophysiology, with a particular emphasis on EEG/event-related potentials. My goal is to integrate clinical and cultural neuroscience to identify modifiable factors as potential therapeutic targets for mental health intervention and prevention.
How is your work advancing health equity? Are you seeing tangible changes in the health disparities experienced by specific communities and groups?
Unfortunately, many mental health disparities among Indigenous peoples continue, and in some cases are even more frequent. has not yet been observed. But the effort is advancing health equity in important ways.
The native population is a highly underrepresented population of particular interest in clinical neuroscience research. Our work aims to put the native community at the center of our approach to clinical cultural neuroscience research by building community partnerships that collaborate in the research process. This is informed by a substantial body of veteran and early-career health equity researchers who promote community-based health equity research.
What surprises you about your lab findings and their implications from your research?
We take steps to explain the neural mechanisms associated with the protective role of identity in traditional cultures against declining mental health. Archived data from large-scale LIBR projects (e.g., Tulsa 1000) Using analysis, we demonstrated that neural markers of cognitive control were associated with reduced incidence of both substance use disorders and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. It aims to identify culturally relevant constructs (e.g., engagement with traditional practices and spirituality) that
My goal is to combine clinical and cultural neuroscience using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to construct relevant traditional cultural engagements that protect against mental health and substance use disorders. is to depict My lab partners with local tribes to create community conceptualizations of these factors. This approach serves as a framework for understanding the impact of cultural engagement on mental health.
Preliminary evidence suggests that certain cultural factors attenuate the impact of mental health symptoms on neurocognitive function. These findings are in preparation for publication in the near future.
How will you encourage the next generation of scientists?
In pursuing this passion for my work, I have benefited from many supportive mentors, training programs, colleagues, friends and family. Having this support for my own development has allowed me to find ways to encourage the next generation of scientists.
This requires providing students with opportunities to research at all levels, develop ideas, generate research questions, conduct analytical training, and share and present their findings to a wide audience. These experiences help build confidence and skills. Offering such training in a comprehensive and growth-oriented environment allows trainees to explore and develop their passion for research.
In line with this approach, I have developed and led two training programs at LIBR.
- A summer internship program that offers paid summer research experience to undergraduates interested in graduate training in mental health research.
- A two-year post-bachelor’s research fellowship for individuals interested in research in underserved populations.
In addition to formal training, career development and mentoring, researchers can empower the next generation by demonstrating a passionate dedication to rigorous and impactful research. Community involvement is central to my own work. Engaging community her partners in idea development, knowledge building and dissemination ensures the impact of our research.
This encourages trainees and increases their motivation to work hard in health equity research.
What do you see for the future of research on minority health, health inequalities and health equity?
In my view, the future of research on minority health and health equity depends on the health of a broader set of systemic factors (e.g., historical, socio-cultural, environmental, economic) at both the individual and community levels. It depends on understanding the impact on Understanding health inequalities within this broader network of drivers not only advances our understanding of how health inequalities develop and why they persist, but also at the multiple levels of the systems in which they exist. Increase your ability to intervene.
Optimistically, in the long term, the field of health equity research will grow into one that recognizes and employs the strengths of communities to promote health and well-being, in addition to alleviating disease and dysfunction. I believe that meaningful and community-engaging research efforts (highlighted in research on minority health and health equity) will uncover factors associated with health outcomes and ultimately Helps develop a better understanding of effective health and well-being promotion.
Page updated: November 21, 2022