Melissa Lewis, PhD


Indigenous people suffer from the worst physical and mental health disparities in the country compared to other racial and ethnic groups. Melissa Lewis, PhD, partners with indigenous communities to revitalize traditional lifeways that can ameliorate the negative effects of colonization, thereby improving health and well-being. By revitalizing traditional beliefs, activities, culture and language, native communities are healing themselves from historical loss and trauma.

In her research, Dr. Lewis has partnered with communities to create training protocols for mental and medical health professionals to provide better care for indigenous patients and clients. She also partners with her own tribe, Cherokee Nation, to evaluate and co‐create programs aimed to reduce cardiovascular disease by harnessing the power of cultural learning.

Academic Information

Assistant Professor


One Hospital Drive
MA306 Medical Sciences Building, DC032.00
Columbia, MO 65212
United States

P. 573-882-2782

Research Interests

  • Tribally-based participatory research
  • Culture as treatment
  • Culture as prevention

Areas of Expertise

  • Indigenous Health
  • Cardiovascular Disease Disparities
  • Stress and Trauma
  • Indigenous Medical/Health Education

Education & Training

Post-Graduate School

PhD: Medical Family Therapy, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Awards & Honors


Excellence in Indigenous Health Research Award

Leaders in Indigenous Medical Education


For a complete publication list, see:My Bibliography (NCBI Collections)

  • Lay advisor interventions in rural populations: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019;57(1):117-126.
    Patil SJ, Lewis M, Tallon EM, Wareg NK, Murray KS, Elliott SG, Stevermer JJ, Kruse RL, Mehr DR.
  • Evaluation of a Native youth leadership program grounded in Cherokee culture: the Remember the Removal Program.
    American Indian and Alaska Native Mental Health Research. 2019;26(1):1-32.
    Lewis ME, Myhra LL, Vieaux LE, Sly G, Anderson A, Marshall KE, Marshall EJ, Remember the Removal Alumni Association.
  • Decolonizing mental health services for Indigenous clients: a training program for mental health professionals.
    American Journal of Community Psychology. 2018;62(3-4):330-339.
    Lewis ME, Hartwell EE, Myhra LL.
  • An indigenous curriculum: improving the quality of care.
    Minnesota Physician. 2018;32(5):26-29.
    Lewis ME, Doerfler J.
  • Integrated care with indigenous populations: considering the role of health care systems in health disparities.
    Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2018;29(3):1083-1107.
    Lewis ME, Myhra LL.
  • Apathy and type 2 diabetes among American Indians: exploring the protective effects of traditional cultural involvement.
    Journal of Health Care for the Poor & Underserved. 2017;28(2):770-783.
    Carlson AE, Aronson BD, Unzen M, Lewis M, Benjamin GJ, Walls ML.
  • Integrated care with indigenous populations: a systematic review of the literature.
    Am Indian Alsk Native Ment Health Res. 2017;24(3):88-110.
    Lewis M, Prunuske A.
  • The development of an indigenous health curriculum for medical students.
    Academic Medicine. 2017;92(5):641-648.
    Lewis ME, Myhra LL.