Timian Godfrey named to National Academies special committee

May 9, 2024

Timian Godfrey, DNP, an associate clinical professor at the University of Arizona College of Nursing, has been selected as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s consensus committee on Strategies to Better Align Investments in Innovations for Therapeutic Development with Disease Burden and Unmet Needs. 

Portrait of professor Timian Godfrey wearing a large turquoise necklace and smiling in an outdoor setting.

Timian Godfrey, DNP

The committee is charged with examining the mismatch between innovation in developing novel therapies and unmet needs associated with U.S. disease burden. It will recommend strategies to facilitate increased innovation to address unmet needs and health disparities, with the goal of closing existing gaps between clinical therapy innovation and population health needs to reduce health disparities, improve health outcomes and lower societal costs. 

“I hope to bring forward the voice of Arizona communities I’ve worked with and recommend strategies that meaningfully facilitate innovations that address their unmet needs and ultimately reduce health disparities,” said Godfrey, who is Diné (Navajo). “My experience as a nurse, nurse practitioner in rural and tribal communities, educator, budding researcher, and as an Indigenous woman in all of these settings, has given me a unique perspective on the reality of health disparities in historically marginalized communities.”

Godfrey’s research is focused on community-engaged research methods, partnering with tribal communities in Arizona to co-create interventions addressing Type 2 diabetes and cancer. She is the director of the college’s INCATS and ANCATS programs, which work, respectively, to increase the number of Native American nurses practicing in tribal communities and boost the number of students from backgrounds underrepresented in the nursing profession.  

“Dr. Godfrey leads across facets of health care innovations to impact health care disparities, especially those experienced by Native American communities,” said Sheila M. Gephart, PhD, RN, a professor and interim chair of the Advanced Nursing Practice and Science Division at the College of Nursing. “This appointment to the NASEM committee is a testament to her international reputation and impressive contributions to the science and practice of health care. She applies innovative approaches to engage local communities and build bridges to improve outcomes.”

Godfrey said she was contacted by a NASEM representative to discuss her perspectives on the gaps in innovative therapeutic development for disease burden and the unmet needs of underserved populations. 

“I believe their primary interest was my experience working with tribal and rural communities,” Godfrey said. “During our discussion, I shared my perspectives on the mismatch between innovation in developing novel therapies and persistent unmet needs associated with high-impact, prevalent health conditions in the United States. I hope to speak to the reality and practicality of implementing proposed innovations that consider the social and structural determinants of health impacting these groups.”

At the end of the two-year appointment, the committee is expected to identify the challenges, opportunities and responsibilities in building public and private capacity for innovation in therapeutic development while at the same time ensuring equitable access to safe and effective novel therapies.