Cherokee Nation hosts ARPA-H for NITRO program's kickoff event 


Cherokee Nation hosts ARPA-H for NITRO program's kickoff event  

ARPA-H’s first program, Novel Innovations for Tissue Regeneration in Osteoarthritis (NITRO) held its kickoff event at Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on April 2-3, 2024. Cherokee Nation, a spoke member of ARPANET-H’s Investor Catalyst Hub, is the largest of three federally recognized Cherokee tribes.  

NITRO Program Manager Ross Uhrich, DMD, MBA noted, “it was essential for the program to kickoff at Cherokee Nation, as osteoarthritis disproportionately impacts American Indian and Alaska Native communities. NITRO was designed to ensure its technologies must be accessible for everyone suffering from OA now and forevermore. NITRO is the first ARPA funded program to kickoff on a tribal territory.”  

NITRO’s goal is to eradicate OA, a common and irreversible condition where bones and cartilage break down, and that often involves debilitating pain and loss of functional movement, and complex and costly reconstructive surgery.  

“The Cherokee Nation has a long-standing tradition of promoting health and wellness for our people. It is fitting that we play a key role in the NITRO program, which aims to pioneer new regenerative treatments that could one day eradicate the suffering caused by osteoarthritis,” Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner said. “We are honored to host the brightest minds in this field and lend our perspectives on how to ensure these future therapies are accessible and effective for Native American communities disproportionately affected by this condition. Through gadugi – our Cherokee value of working together for the greater good – we can pool our shared knowledge to make unprecedented strides against osteoarthritis.” 

The program recently announced the five teams receiving awards to create and commercialize injectable and implantable regenerative therapies for osteoarthritis (OA). The performer teams are led by: Duke University, Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Case Western Reserve University.  

Uhrich added, “We must engineer solutions for every patient rather than innovating for the sake of innovation. This is our chance to eradicate one of the most significant disabilities and create a future in which people look back and wonder why we ever did joint replacements in the first place. Today, we take the first step towards creating a future without OA.” 

View photos and a video of the event.