Issue 2013-08 (December 11, 2013)



Big Crowd Celebrates Opening of New WSU Building

By Doug Nadvornick; photos by Bob Hubner & Judith Van Dongen    

Medical student Scott Hippe says one of his favorite things about WSU Spokane's new $80 million Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building is the windows. Huge panes of glass cover most of the structure and offer splendid views of the WSU Spokane campus and beyond.

"I spent the majority of my first year of medical school in a basement classroom without windows. After hearing about the windows I grinned from ear to ear for a week straight. Maybe this pale kid can get a tan while he studies," Hippe joked at the building's dedication ceremony last Friday.

Hippe and other dignitaries—including WSU President Elson Floyd, WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown, and several elected officials—spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of more than 400 people packed into the new building's first-floor breezeway. Then they pulled out a large pair of crimson scissors for a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

President Floyd talked about the role of the new building in helping to elevate health care's already strong role in the economy of the Inland Northwest.

Chancellor Brown spoke about the campus's emphasis on interprofessional learning and teaching health sciences students how to work in teams, one of the major trends in health care.

Pharmacy student Emily Cox said the new building will simplify things for her and other student researchers. Until now, she said they often had to walk from building to building to find the equipment and advice they needed to continue their experiments.

"This building is a real, proactive solution to research barriers on campus," said Cox.  

The 125,000-square foot building is the new home of the university's College of Pharmacy, which for 11 years has been split between Pullman and Spokane and has nearly completed its relocation. Pharmacy faculty will occupy two-thirds of the research space. Students will attend some classes in the new building and practice clinical skills on manikins in a new simulation suite.

The rest of the lab space will be occupied by Medical Sciences, which includes the University of Washington's WWAMI medical education program, medical research and WSU’s Speech and Hearing Sciences program. Medical students will not only attend classes in the new building; they'll also study anatomy by examining cadavers in four specially equipped lab rooms.

Faculty and staff of the two programs have begun moving into the new building, and pharmacy will complete its exodus from Pullman this month. Spring semester classes will begin in the new building in January.

Walgreens Donation to Fund New Auditorium, Partnership Opportunities

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

A $500,000 donation from Walgreens will provide the funding for the new Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building’s 150-seat, first-floor auditorium, which will be named the "Walgreens Auditorium." College of Pharmacy Dean Gary Pollack announced the gift and the naming decision at a Dec. 4 open house event to celebrate the college’s move to the new facility.

The donation, which furthers the collaboration between Walgreens and the university, will also provide a foundation for future partnership opportunities to develop curriculum and outcomes studies. 

"We value our relationship with Walgreens and look forward to working with them to develop new models of health care delivery and new roles for pharmacists as health care reform continues to evolve," Pollack said.

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HSSA Awards $1.965 Million to Fund Research Hires, Core Lab Equipment

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

A $1.965 million grant awarded to the College of Pharmacy at Washington State University will help recruit faculty and purchase research equipment.

It is the second such grant awarded to the college and the WSU Spokane campus by the Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County. In 2012, HSSA awarded $1.18 million to aid with start-up recruitment packages for two research-active faculty and to help the pharmacy and medical sciences programs purchase equipment to open a microscopy core laboratory and a mass spectrometry core laboratory.

"HSSA's commitment has had a tremendous return on its investment so far for them, for WSU and for this community, and we expect the same for this round of recruitments," said Gary Pollack, dean of the College of Pharmacy.

The new grant will match WSU start-up recruitment packages for three research-active faculty and complete the build-out of core research laboratory infrastructure for the newly opened Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building.

HSSA requires that the researchers bring grant funding to Spokane and that they spend 75 percent of their time conducting research.

Katie Jewett using the confocal microscope
PhD student Kathryn Jewett using the confocal microscope purchased with the help of the 2012 HSSA grant (Photo by Cori Medeiros)

Last year, HSSA contributed $243,363 toward purchase of a laser scanning confocal microscope with a four-year service contract and technical support. The capability of confocal microscopy is performing optical sectioning of thick biologic samples (tissues or cells) and three-dimensional reconstruction of images.

This year, HSSA is contributing another $705,000 to help complete the microscopy lab. The funds will help purchase a micro-CT scanner, intravital microscopy system, flow cytometry system, inverted fluorescence microscope, whole-animal image and nanoparticle measurement system.

Last year, HSSA contributed half the cost of the mass spectrometry equipment, or $243,500. The equipment is important for drug and metabolite analysis and can detect drugs/metabolites at very low concentrations. It can distinguish a specific drug/metabolite from other compounds in a biologic sample.

This year, HSSA is contributing another $360,000 to the pharmacogenomics core lab. The equipment to be added is Illumina MiSeq automated gene sequencing, QuantStudio Spectrometer 2000, microplate reader and real-time PCR, nanodrop, spectromax and bioanalyzer and robot.

As a condition of the funding, HSSA requires the equipment be available to public and private researchers in the region.

For more information about how to use the WSU core laboratory facilities in Spokane, visit

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SLIDESHOW: Training Partnership with Autism Early Learning Center Provides Win-Win

Story and Photos by Judith Van Dongen

It's Tuesday morning at a bustling early learning classroom on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney. WSU graduate speech and hearing sciences student Kellie Carns shows four-year old Daniel Fast a small yellow car, encouraging him to point to a matching picture and name the object out loud. "Kuh…" she prompts him. "Car," he responds, to her satisfaction.

This is no ordinary early learning program—it's part of the Domino Project, a specialized education initiative for kids with autism that also serves as a learning opportunity for students in a variety of disciplines. This fall, Carns and classmate Anna Mottaz are here two mornings a week to help the school’s seven kids develop their speech, language, and communication skills.

"It’s definitely a challenge, but I like it a lot." said Carns, adding that she especially enjoys being able to work with several different kids at once. "It's been really interesting to see how these kids all have similar issues but are very different in their own ways, too."

Carns and Mottaz are the first to benefit from a new clinical training program being established at the Domino Project by WSU clinical assistant professor Georgina Lynch, who also provides onsite supervision to her students. Lynch said the goal of the program is to better prepare graduate speech and hearing sciences students for the challenges of working with children with autism.  

"It's monumentally important to train the people who will work with these kids for the rest of their lives," said Dawn Sidell, the executive director of the Northwest Autism Center, the advocacy organization that founded the Domino Project back in 2005. "When graduates go out to work in the school system, they’ll be picking up where Domino leaves off."

Before Lynch joined WSU in 2011, she developed special education programs for kids with autism for the Central Valley School District and served on the Northwest Autism Center's education advisory board. She saw first-hand that recently graduated speech-language pathologists were often at a loss as to how to work with these kids and saw an opportunity to address this need through this new collaboration with the Domino Project.  

As an added benefit, the clinical training program provides Domino's kids with valuable speech-pathology services when they are most needed.  

"There's a critical window for language," said Lynch. "The sooner you can start working with a child that shows characteristics of autism, the more likely the outcome is for them to gain functional language and communication skills."

The ideal time, she said, is from about 13 months to age five, when the kids' developing brains are still relatively flexible. Domino enrolls kids between the ages of two and five.

An Individualized Approach to Speech Therapy

Carns and Mottaz mostly work one-on-one with each child using interventions that are adjusted to the child's individual needs. For example, they'll teach nonverbal kids to use picture symbols to communicate their wants and needs. With others who are using single words, they'll work on getting them to string two or more words together. Some activities pair kids up with peers to get them to use the skills gained through one-on-one speech therapy on each other.

Gina Fast, mother to Daniel and his twin brother Sage, said she's seen significant changes in her kids since they joined the program in early September. "It's been phenomenal. When I first brought my boys in they were able to mimic words, but now they're starting to say them spontaneously, in an appropriate context," Fast said

While at Domino, Lynch and her students are part of a multidisciplinary team that also includes a special education teacher, a behavior analyst, and EWU students in psychology, education, and occupational therapy. Their speech-language pathology work benefits the entire team, as other team members are working to implement components of the work on days on which the WSU team isn't around.

"It's been a wonderful partnership, and I'm very grateful that they're able to do this with these kids,” said Kristina Baker, the school's special education teacher.  

For the students, too, it's been a positive experience.

"Working with these kids can be overwhelming to a lot of people, so I feel really good having this experience," said Mottaz. "To see that there’s so much you can get out of these kids when you ask for language, that’s encouraging."

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From Slowpokes to Quick Pokes: Medical Students Learn About Drawing Blood

Story and Photos by Doug Nadvornick

When medical students meet to learn how to draw blood, on whom do they practice? It's not easy to recruit volunteers to be poked by needles, so they use each other as pincushions, as they did recently when they gathered at Spokane's Fifth and Browne Medical Building for a phlebotomy workshop.

As phlebotomist Linda Irwin explained the basics of drawing blood, she pushed her needle into student Sophie Clark's arm while Clark's peers watched. Then she gave students the supplies they would need and let them pair off to practice on each other.

This workshop was the second put together by medical students this fall to introduce them to basic medical procedures they will perform as physicians. In the Oct. 16 Campus Bulletin, we wrote about a suturing workshop.  

First- and second-year medical students have other opportunities to get clinical experience. They can volunteer to see patients Saturday mornings at the House of Charity clinic. There they interview patients and talk about methods of treatment with a supervising a physician. Second-year students also have the chance to interview patients and compile their medical histories at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

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WSU Researcher Finds Potential New Use for Old Drugs

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

A class of drugs used to treat parasitic infections such as malaria may also be useful in treating cancers and immune-related diseases, a new WSU-led study has found.

Portrait photo of Gregory Poon
Gregory Poon

Researchers discovered that simple modifications to the drug furamidine have a major impact on its ability to affect specific human proteins involved in the on-off switches of certain genes.

"This was rather unexpected, given how relatively simple the molecules are that we modified and how difficult it has been to affect these proteins," said assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences Gregory Poon.

The proteins—known as transcription factors—regulate the expression of genes in a highly coordinated and intricate manner, making them attractive targets for therapeutic drugs. But it has proven difficult to design drugs to affect them, Poon said.

"For this reason, they have been called undruggable," he said. "Recently, however, scientists have been making headway in targeting these transcription factors with drugs, and now our results suggest this class of drugs can be a useful addition to the arsenal."

Furamidine belongs to a family of drugs known as heterocyclic dications. The drug has a long history of use in serious parasitic diseases such as malaria; African sleeping sickness; and PCP, a common infection in HIV/AIDS.

"There is tremendous knowledge and experience with using furamidine and related drugs in humans, so these drugs have an important advantage over other classes of drugs that are relatively behind in clinical experience," Poon said.

Poon collaborated with researchers at Georgia State University. The team found that derivatives of furamidine can target a specific transcription factor known as PU.1.

PU.1 is a major factor in development and function of the human immune system, and it plays important roles in diseases such as some leukemias, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. PU.1 is also a member of a large family of related transcription factors, known as ETS, that is involved in a broader range of cancers and other diseases.

"I am fortunate to be working with some of the best people in this area," Poon said, referring to his collaborators, Dave Boykin and David Wilson of Georgia State University. "The challenge now is to fine-tune this class of drugs to make them as specific as possible to other ETS-family transcription factors as well."

Their research is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the WSU College of Pharmacy.

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For Kids, Students' Hands-on Lessons Beat a Lecture Any Day

By Doug Nadvornick

Elementary school teachers say the best way to get children interested in science is to give them something to play with, an object they can look at and hold in their hands.

That's why eight of Spokane’s first-year medical students walked into a science fair on the Gonzaga University (GU) campus recently with props: pig hearts and cow eyes. They came to teach visiting students enrolled in Spokane Public Schools' after-school Express program.

The medical students did most of the organ handling. They slipped on their blue plastic gloves and held the grayish body parts as they asked children questions such as "Why do you think blood turns blue?" and "Why do we have eye lashes?"

"Most of the kids were fairly engrossed in the presentation and really wanted to touch stuff. I wish we had more gloves and could let them do that," said medical student Cyrus Haselman. "They all wanted to interact and answer our questions even if they had no idea what the answer was."

The organ table was one of several stations where students spent time. Across the room, the scent of hand sanitizer wafted from the WSU pharmacy table, where four students from the Phi Delta Chi pharmacy fraternity used Glo Germ sanitizer, a black light, and a few handshakes to show children how germs are easily transferred from person to person.

"Not only did our students get the opportunity to interact with children and apply what they learned in a setting outside the classroom," said pharmacy student Alexa Carter, "but they also had to be creative to keep the kiddos' attention and make germs exciting."

Other tables were manned by WSU Extension and Eastern Washington University physical therapy, another of the health sciences programs on the WSU Spokane campus.

The fair was sponsored by Gonzaga's S.M.I.L.E. program, in which GU students mentor kindergarten-through-sixth-grade students in Spokane elementary after-school programs.

"You could just feel the excitement in the room when they rotated stations and did a new activity," said Sarah Abebe, a student leader in the S.M.I.L.E. program. "I believe it is important to give children extracurricular opportunities to explore and learn, especially in a subject some students might be quick to dismiss as hard or uninteresting."

Having an Impact on Children

And what did children learn at the fair?

"I learned that the eye sees everything upside down but your brain flips it right side up," said one fifth grader.

"I learned about the heart and the eye, a bit disgusting but interesting," said a fourth grader.

Medical student Wade Muncey admitted afterward that he wondered how much of the information about hearts and eyes the children would remember.    

"After multiple groups of kids had gone through our station, one child from the very first group managed to make his way back to our presentation with another group and he actually remembered the answers," said Muncey. "It made me realize that kids were retaining the information and understanding the basic principles on some level."

"It was great to see the kids interested in the human body," said Haselman, "and while I don’t imagine they will remember too many anatomic specifics, my hope is they saw how exciting learning can be and will carry that curiosity with them as they get older."

If this class of medical students follows the example of past classes, Haselman, Muncey, and their peers will lug pig hearts and cow eyes (and maybe even sheep brains) to a few other schools in the Spokane area before the academic year ends next spring.

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In the News

  • Local media were on campus last week to cover the completion and dedication of the new Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences Building. Read/watch these stories here: Spokesman-Review; KXLY News; KXLY 920 AM radio; KREM
  • Regents Professor James Krueger was quoted in an article on "the drowsiness epidemic" published on PBS's Nova Next. Read it here.
  • Work done by Area Health Education Center Director Chris Blodgett and his team to help schools deal with childhood trauma was mentioned in a recent New York Times blog post. Read it here.

For more news coverage of WSU Spokane, go to the WSU Spokane news coverage page.

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  • Alli Benjamin, communications director for the College of Nursing, has been appointed to the 2014 board of the Greater Spokane chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She will assume her duties as president-elect as of January 1, 2014.
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Personnel and Staffing Changes


  • Rebecca Gray, Secretary Senior, Clinical Pharmacology, effective November 4, 2013
  • Susan Lutz, Secretary Senior, Pharmacy Development and Alumni Relations, effective November 4, 2013
  • Alyssa Dichoso, Lab Technician 2, Clinical Pharmacology, effective November 6, 2013
  • Alex Baughn, Office Assistant, Pharmaceutical Sciences, effective November 13, 2013
  • Brie Andrews, Development Assistant Director, Development, effective November 25, 2013
  • Elizabeth Bacon, Library and Archives Paraprofessional 4, Riverpoint Library, effective November 26, 2013
  • Douglas Gentis, Custodian 1, Facilities Operations, effective December 1, 2013
  • Lisa Price, Secretary Senior, Pharmacy Graduate and Professional Programs, effective December 5, 2013
  • Matthew Ryplewski, Fiscal Technician 2, Pharmacy Business Services, effective December 6, 2013
  • Katie Larson, Clinical Contracts and Student Data Coordinator, College of Nursing, effective January 2, 2014


  • Polly Smith, Office Assistant 3 (50%), MESA, effective December 5, 2013
  • Tracy Horntvedt, Instructor, College of Nursing, effective December 31, 2013
  • Kim Ligon, Instructor, College of Nursing, effective December 31, 2013
  • Phyllis Morris, Director Tri-Cities Nursing Programs, College of Nursing, effective December 31, 2013
  • Donna Tuning, Instructor-Yakima, College of Nursing, effective December 31, 2013


  • R. Keith Campbell, Professor, College of Pharmacy, effective November 1, 2013
  • Carol Allen, Clinical Associate Professor, College of Nursing, effective December 31, 2013


  • Jacqueline Englert, Fiscal Specialist 1 to Fiscal Specialist 2, College of Pharmacy, effective October 1, 2013
  • Kelly Sylvester, Development Coordinator to Development Assistant Director, College of Pharmacy, effective October 15, 2013
  • Tanya Bailey, Office Assistant 2 to Office Assistant 3, Student Affairs, effective November 1, 2013
  • Kyle Ross, from Advisor/Counselor, Center for Advising & Career Development to Student Services Specialist, Health Policy & Administration, effective November 12, 2013
  • Libby Forsyth, Office Assistant 3, Human Resources to Secretary Senior, Health Policy & Administration, effective November 16, 2013
  • Julie Foster, Secretary Senior to Secretary Supervisor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, effective November 16, 2013
  • Joel Lohr, Maintenance Mechanic 4, Facilities Operations, effective November 16, 2013
  • Lindsey Friedly, Program Assistant to Program Specialist 2, College of Pharmacy, effective November 18, 2013


  • Elaine Vincent, from Development Director with the College of Pharmacy to Development Assistant Director with the College of Arts and Sciences, effective October 15, 2013
  • Joanna Dreger, Student Support Specialist, College of Pharmacy to Academic Coordinator, Bio Systems Engineering, effective December 9, 2013
  • Theresa Boyer, Development Director, College of Nursing, to Gift & Estate Planning Specialist (Assistant Director), University Advancement, effective December 15, 2013

Recruitments & Searches:

  • Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy/Clinical Pharmacology, open until filled, apply at
  • Assistant/Associate/Professor, College of Nursing, open until filled, applications reviewed as received, apply at
  • Clinical Assistant/Associate Professor, College of Nursing, open until filled, interviews pending
  • Data Architect/Database Administrator, closed November 3, 2013, offer pending
  • Development Director, College of Nursing, closes January 1, 2014, apply at
  • Extension Regional Specialist, Volunteer Development Specialist, Youth and Family Unit, WSU Extension, open until filled, apply at
  • Extension Regional Specialist, Program Evaluation Specialist, WSU Extension, open until filled, apply at
  • Fiscal Specialist 2, College of Nursing, closed, interviews pending
  • Office Assistant 2 (75%), Student Affairs, closed December 3, 2013, screening applications
  • Network Engineer/Administrator (Security Engineer), ITS, closes December 20, 2013, apply at
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Pharmaceutical Sciences, open until filled, apply at
  • Research Operations Engineer, Shock Physics, open until filled, apply at

WSU Service Milestones:

Recognizing and supporting the contributions of employees is critical to fulfilling the university mission. As part of its length of service program, staff are eligible for length of service awards at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 years of service. Faculty recognition begins at 25 years of service. Below is a list of Spokane-based employees who reached length of service milestones from January 2013 through now.

45 Years
  • R. Keith Campbell, College of Pharmacy
35 Years
  • Tamara Kelley, College of Nursing
30 Years
  • Danial Baker, College of Pharmacy
  • Jacqueline Banasik, College of Nursing
  • Marguerite Clinton, College of Nursing
  • Kim Calamia-McKee, Area Health Education Center
25 Years
  • Vickie Burnham, College of Pharmacy
  • Linda Wilson, Small Business Development Center
20 Years
  • Mike Bergam, IT Services
  • Bart Brazier, IT Services
  • David Savage, Small Business Development Center
  • Diane Wick, Human Resources
15 Years
  • Angie Earley, IT Services
  • Julie Foster, College of Pharmacy
  • Larry Hoffman, IT Services
  • Brady Ratsch, IT Services
  • Mike Reitemeier, Campus Security
  • Jon Schad, Facilities Operations
10 Years
  • Barb King, Facilities Operations
  • Kelly LaGrutta, College of Education
  • Joel Lohr, Facilities Operations
  • Cindy McHargue, WSU Extension
  • Becki Meehan, Communications
  • Nancy Oberst, College of Nursing
  • Patti Petersen, Chancellor's Office
  • Al Pignataro, Campus Security
  • Luke Rice, College of Pharmacy
  • Pat Rossini, Administration/Human Resources
  • Eileen Swalling, College of Nursing
5 Years
  • Deb Cox, Office of Research
  • Cindy Doyl, Small Business Development Center
  • Hannah Egland, Small Business Development Center
  • Jaci Englert, College of Pharmacy
  • Lori Maricle, College of Pharmacy
  • Norene Phillipson, Facilities Operations
  • Jodi Pyle, College of Nursing
  • Randy Reynolds, Facilities Operations
  • Hazel Strand, Facilities Operations
  • Susan Wright, College of Pharmacy
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Way to Go!

Here's where you make someone's day a little brighter by extending your thanks for a job well done. Send your "Way to Go!" comments to Judith Van Dongen and watch for your thanks to be published in an upcoming issue of the Campus Bulletin!

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The Bulletin is a monthly publication that is usually published on the second or third Wednesday of each month. The exact publication date may shift due to holidays. If you have an item that you'd like us to include, send it to us by Friday in the week before publication.

The Bulletin covers news of interest to the faculty, staff, and friends of Washington State University Spokane, and associates on other WSU campuses.

Regular stories cover professional accomplishments, opportunities for involvement in the campus community and the Spokane community, notices of new developments on campus, upcoming events, personnel changes, and other news.

The Bulletin also serves as a source of information for external communications directed to alumni, future and current students, and friends of Washington State University Spokane.

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Editorial staff