Vanessa HiratsukaPhD, MPH

Vanessa Hiratsuka
Senior Researcher/Co-Director for the National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders
Southcentral Foundation Research Department
4085 Tudor Centre Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508
(907) 729-8575


PhD, Walden University

MPH, University of Alaska Anchorage

BA, Stanford University


I am an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and am also Winnemem Wintu. I am a public health researcher with over 20 years of mixed methods research experience within the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community in the discipline of public health. For 13 years, I conducted research in the Southcentral Foundation (SCF) Research Department overseeing research in behavioral, medical, dental and health services divisions addressing health disparities through clinical and community-based interventions and health services research projects. While at SCF, I explored the interplay between patient and provider characteristics impacting health services utilization and health outcomes in screening, brief intervention, and treatment of chronic diseases and behavioral health conditions of AI/AN adults. I led health services research projects using a community-based participatory approach within the Alaska Tribal Health System for the past decade while also completing a post-doctoral fellowship through the University of Washington/University of Colorado Native Investigator Development Program and the University of Colorado Denver’s Native Children’s Research Exchange. As a mixed-methods researcher leading studies addressing Alaska Native health disparities, I have been the lead qualitative analyst, quantitative lead, and mixed methods studies using various research approaches. Since 2012, I have worked on the ethical, legal, and social implications (ELSI) of genomic and precision medicine research in AI/AN populations. These efforts were conducted using community-based participatory research (CBPR) practices to design a deliberative process that elicited the views of AI/AN leaders about the potential value and ethical conduct of precision medicine research.

Professional & Department Service

Co-Director for the National Resource Center for Alaska Native Elders



Research Gate