Melissa Walls


Director of Great Lakes Hub

People at the Center for American Indian Health share a consistent message: all cultures have much to learn from American Indian communities. A central theme of my own collaborative work is to understand the social and historical determinants of health for Indigenous individuals and families. The lessons we learn throughout these projects, from our elders, and from community members offer important teachings about the mechanisms through which culture and local contexts impact well-being.


Melissa Walls, PhD (Bois Forte and Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe) has been appointed Director of the Great Lakes Hub for the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and associate professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

The Center’s new hub, based in Duluth, MN, will build upon existing partnerships with hundreds of tribal members across 11 Ojibwe Bands. This collaboration will advance leading-edge research projects focusing on the etiology and consequences of diabetes, substance use, mental disorders, and physical health issues—as well as opportunities to prevent these and other health challenges.

Dr. Walls is a social scientist committed to collaborative research and has over a decade of experience working with tribal communities in the United States and Canada. Her involvement in community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects to date includes mental health epidemiology; culturally-relevant, family-based substance use prevention and mental health promotion programming and evaluation; and examining the impact of stress and mental health on diabetes. Dr. Walls’s collaborative work has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada.


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