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Avera Research Institute

The world of research is dynamic, an ever-changing environment where robust therapies are discovered and tested, and one day put into practice.

That’s where Avera Research Institute comes in. We build upon Avera’s strong commitment to population health, particularly American Indian health, and the integration of clinical research studies within the health system.

To conduct our research, we have offices in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Pine Ridge, SD, where our researchers engage in partnerships with American Indian communities, community-based organizations, and clinics/hospitals.

Experts in Clinical Trials

Avera Research Institute plays a vital role in national clinical trials, participating in several for COVD-19 treatments, pediatrics, community and faculty-initiated studies.

COVID-19 Clinical Trials

Avera Research Institute has participated in major studies of treatments, including monoclonal antibody infusions and a COVID pill regimen. We’re also taking part in a national study of long-term effects of COVID in the hopes of finding solutions to help people who continue to suffer from symptoms.

Find COVID-19 clinical trials

Experts in Community Research

Child Health Research

Avera is one of only 35 nationwide cohorts chosen to participate in Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes, (ECHO) – a national research program launched and supported by the National Institutes of Health. The goal of this study is to improve child and adolescent health by looking at how a broad range of environmental influences – including sleep, nutrition, allergens and social relationships – affect children both prenatally and after birth.

ECHO builds upon research completed during the Safe Passage study, a project that investigated the association between prenatal alcohol exposures, SIDS, and stillbirth. The ECHO study is also enrolling women who are currently pregnant and planning to deliver at any hospital within the Avera Health footprint, or Monument Health facility.

Population Health Research

Our team is dedicated to population health, an approach to health that aims to improve the health of an entire population. Avera Research Institute has focused particularly on the health of American Indian populations.

A few studies our team has conducted include:

Evaluation Services

Avera Research Institute offers evaluation services that are cooperative and culturally sensitive and responsive to the needs of collaborators. Examples of this work include:

  • Developing a proposal for a federal or private grant program
  • Planning and conducting an efficacy study designed to meet evidence-based standards
  • Planning and conducting a cost effectiveness study of a program or policy
  • Working with a health care or school leadership team to plan, roll out, and test new initiatives

Meet Our Researchers

Amy Elliott

Amy Elliott, PhD

Amy Elliott is the Chief Clinical Research Officer at Avera Research Institute and professor at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine. She leads research teams in Sioux Falls, Pine Ridge and Rapid City, S.D. Her primary focus is improving child health and development through community-based research. Elliott is the principal investigator on several National Institutes of Health (NIH) research projects including the Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) study, examining environmental influences on child health outcomes. She previously worked on the Safe Passage study, an initiative to reduce infant mortality in American Indian communities.

View list of research publications

Jyoti Angal

Jyoti Angal, PhD

Jyoti Angal is the Director of Clinical Research for the Avera Research Institute and instructor at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine. She provides compliance and regulatory expertise on all of the center’s studies, including several National Institutes of Health (NIH) research projects. Angal enjoys managing large research projects and incorporating research ethics in order to improve research design. She’s also passionate about using research to improve maternal and child health in communities with health disparities.

View list of research publications

Arielle Deutsch

Arielle Deutsch

Arielle Deutsch is a Research Scientist at the Avera Research Institute and an Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Her main areas of interest broadly involve the environments and internal mechanisms of substance use, reproductive and prenatal health, and intimate partner and family violence, focusing on health disparities and inequity for rural, Native, and marginalized communities. She is passionate about collaborating with researchers and non-researchers alike to find practical, effective, and empowering solutions to improve health equity and overall health for those in need.

View list of research publications

Christine Wey Hockett, PhD

Christine Hockett

Christine Wey Hockett is the Director of Community Research at Avera Research Institute in Rapid City, S.D., and Assistant Professor at The University of South Dakota School of Medicine. Her research uses observational and community-based intervention methodology to understand how prenatal exposures and behaviors influence infant and childhood health outcomes, specifically in the areas of obesity, diabetes, and child development. Her ultimate goal is to reduce health disparities among rural and American Indian populations.

View list of research publications

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Lacey A. McCormack, PhD, MPH, RD

Lacey Arneson McCormack is a Research Scientist at Avera Research Institute and an Associate Professor at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. Her research focuses on how the rural environment shapes the diet and physical activity behaviors of individuals across the lifespan and contributes to rural health disparities. Additionally, she provides evaluation expertise to several transdisciplinary projects throughout the health system largely focused on rural health and healthcare delivery.

View list of research publications

Moving Health Forward

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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