Myra Elizabeth Parker

Myra Elizabeth Parker

Myra Elizabeth



Acting Assistant Professor 
University of Washington 

Professional Bio

Dr. Parker (Mandan-Hidatsa) is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota. She is also Cree on her father’s side, from the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation in Montana. She graduated from Stanford University in 1996 with a BA in Human Biology. After working as a research assistant at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration through the Stanford University Department of Psychiatry and experience as a paralegal in a corporate law firm in Palo Alto, she attended the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, graduating in 2001. She received her MPH from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health in 2002. Dr. Parker served as a policy analyst and Native American Research Centers for Health program coordinator for the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona from 2001 through 2003. She then served as Policy Advisor for Tribal Affairs for then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano in 2003, until she was accepted into the PhD program in Health Services at the University of Washington School of Public Health. Upon graduation in 2010, Dr. Parker completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Alcohol Research in the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behavior within the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and Health Sciences in 2011. She currently serves as Acting Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Health Sciences and works closely with the Indigenous Wellness Research Center within the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Project Description

Background: 1 in 10 deaths in American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities were alcohol-related in

2001-2005. Each tribe establishes its own laws, often complicated by surrounding non-Native regulatory schemes. This project focuses on the goal of determining policies that work to promote and improve community-level health.

Specific Aim: Test the association between presence of cooperative agreements across tribal and non-tribal communities with incidence of alcohol-related injury and death.

Hypothesis: The presence of intergovernmental agreements is associated with lower rates of alcohol-related injury and death within both reservation and non-tribal jurisdictions. Conceptual Model: We use the Indigenist Stress Coping model at the community level.

Methods: Using mixed methods to conduct a community-level retrospective analysis within five tribes in the Pacific Northwest, stepwise logistic regression will be used to test the association between the major independent variable (presence of agreements (0,1)) and the dependent variables (alcohol related injury and alcohol-related death).

My New Connections Experience

My primary reason for applying to the New Connections program was to combine my training in law and public health through the new joint program offered through New Connections and the Public Health Law Research Center at RWJF. I was excited to learn more about this opportunity through the application process and subsequent Public Health Law Research informational activities. I see this opportunity as a perfect combination in addressing public health issues within American Indian communities both on and off-reservation, since Federal law often dictates the manner public health programs play out in American Indian communities. I was also excited to have an opportunity to tap into the growing New Connections community of scholars. I knew that exposure to researchers interested in diversity and the elimination of health disparities would benefit my own work tremendously.

The leadership and grantees of New Connections, as well as the tremendous efforts of the supporting staff, have been especially supportive of my application and subsequent award. As someone relatively new to a career in research, I have seen immediate benefits to being associated with New Connections through subsequent institutional support in my career progress as well as intangible advice and networks that have been made available to me. All of these will enable me to continue to progress as a minority researcher and I hope to encourage other American Indians in research as a result of my experience in this wonderful program.

Research Interests

My primary research interests include alcohol and substance abuse within American Indian populations and development, implementation, and evaluation of intervention programs. I am also interested in the intersection between public health efforts at the tribal, state, and federal levels and the development and evaluation of public health laws and policies. I have experience in survey research, along with program evaluation.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2011, PHLR-New Connections 
  • Project Name: Alcohol Policies and Alcohol-Related Deaths and Injuries in Tribal Communities.

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