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WSU scientist studies link between poor sleep and PTSD

Willie Vanderheyden uses fluorescent microscopy to identify sleep promoting cells in the dorsal part of a rat brain.
Neuroscientist Willie Vanderheyden uses fluorescent microscopy to identify sleep promoting cells in the dorsal part of a rat brain.

 
At any given time, an estimated 7.7 million American adults suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition that occurs in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Though PTSD can affect anyone who lives through trauma, it is especially common among military veterans returning from combat zones.

The effects of PTSD can be debilitating. It’s one reason why neuroscientist Willie Vanderheyden—an assistant research professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine—has set out to better understand the condition and its ties to one of his other research interests: sleep.

“Up to 90 percent of people who have experienced trauma suffer from some type of sleep disturbance, whether it’s fragmented sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or nightmares,” Vanderheyden said.

These sleep disturbances may be the result of PTSD, but Vanderheyden says it’s also possible that they are part of what is causing PTSD. » More …

Competition breaks research down into bite-sized chunks

Science is usually a serious matter, but there were plenty of laughs last week at the fourth annual Science Bites event held at WSU Spokane. The science communications competition featured ten graduate and professional students from the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, who rose to the challenge of providing a compelling description of their research in no more than three minutes.

Participants could use one static PowerPoint slide and were expected to use language that could be understood by non-specialists. Facing a panel of judges, they pulled out all the stops, using a variety of laugh-inducing metaphors and anecdotes in their quest for top honors.

Prizes—including $200 toward travel expenses to attend the Science Talk ’19 conference in Portland—went to the top three competitors, all of whom are PhD in pharmaceutical sciences candidates working in different research labs.

Group photo of the 2018 ScienceBites competitors and judges

Science Bites competitors and judges at the 2018 event. From left to right, in the back: Dyston Madsen, Panshak Dakup, Trevor Kirby, Philip Wibisono, Soumyadeep Sarkar, Siavosh Naji-Talakar, and Chancellor Daryll DeWald. Center: Shannon Kozlovich, Priyanka Bushana. Front: Xinyue Dong, Laken Kruger, Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, Shamema Nasrin, and Shirley Moore.

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Research: New study reveals how shift work disrupts metabolism

Study author Elena Skornyakov loads a blood sample into the cold centrifuge at the sleep laboratory at WSU Health Sciences Spokane

Working night shifts or other nonstandard work schedules increases your risk of becoming obese and developing diabetes and other metabolic disorders, which ultimately also raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Exactly why this happens has been unclear, but a new study conducted at Washington State University has brought scientists closer to finding the answer. » More …

Meet a Scientist: Dr. Pablo Monsivais Explores Social, Economic Influences on Eating Habits

Dr. Pablo Monsivais at Fresh Basket grocery store

Poor eating habits can cause obesity and increase our risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes and stroke.

That much we’ve known, but what scientists are still figuring out is what aspects of our diets affect our health and what factors drive us toward consuming a poor diet in the first place.

The latter is the research focus of Pablo Monsivais, Ph.D., MPH, an associate professor in nutrition and exercise physiology in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. He studies how social and environmental factors influence people’s eating habits, exploring associations between diet and factors such as income level, employment status, and neighborhood access to different types of food outlets. » More …

Meet a Scientist: Dr. Lucia Peixoto’s Work Narrows the Search for Autism Risk Factors

Lucia Peixoto in her lab on the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus

Lucia Peixoto in her lab on the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus

A landmark study by scientists at WSU and elsewhere has brought focus to the search for genetic links to autism spectrum disorder, which affects an estimated 2 million Americans. Published in the Jan. 16 issue of Science Signaling, the study identifies more than 2,000 areas of DNA that are active when mice learn a new task and are strongly associated with autism. Taking a closer look at one of those areas, the researchers found a genetic mutation that is associated with increased risk of developing autism.

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WSU Spokane library director writes about servant leaders

Jonathan Potter

By Lorraine Nelson, WSU Spokane Communications

What if you were promoted at work over someone who had been there longer and was qualified, but who had been laboring at a more menial job and who did not enjoy the same rapport with the boss?

Would you feel squeamish about accepting the job?

That happened to Jonathan Potter many years ago when he was a young librarian, and he recounts that experience in an academic paper published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Servant Leadership.

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First Translational Medicine Symposium Showcases Progress, Challenges in Dealing with Brain Diseases

Finding a cure is an important goal of research on brain diseases. However, to patients and their loved ones, research that can help preserve or restore functional ability in their daily lives is just as crucial. This was one of the takeaways from the first annual WSU Translational Medicine Symposium held last week at the Providence Auditorium in Spokane.

The symposium brought together researchers, entrepreneurs, physicians, patients, and caregivers to share knowledge about treatment innovations and key issues related to brain diseases, the theme for this inaugural event.

Photo of ALS patient Matt Wild and his wife Theresa Whitlock-Wild
Assisted by his wife Theresa, Matt Wild talks about life with ALS during the symposium’s clinical problems discussion panel. (More event photos available on our Flickr page)

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Researchers evaluate new psychosis treatment for young people

Winning

Winning

(This story appears in the latest edition of the WSU Spokane Magazine)

By Terren Roloff

New research indicates that the earlier health care providers can identify and treat people with psychosis, the more likely they can help them be more successful in life.

Michael McDonell, Ph.D., says those with psychosis often hear or see things that aren’t real or have strongly held beliefs that aren’t based in reality.

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WSU Spokane research tackles drug delivery, sleep deprivation and genetics, fatigue in disaster response and more

Research Roundup

Research Roundup

Zhenjia Wang (left) talks to postdoctoral research associate Zhang Canyang at Wang’s research lab in the Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building.

(This story appears in the latest edition of the WSU Spokane Magazine)

By Judith Van Dongen

Researchers at WSU Spokane are busy working to create healthier communities. Here’s a roundup of recent research news:

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