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Man standing in front of empty refrigerator
Food insecurity risk related to diabetes later in life

May 9, 2022

Young adults who were at risk of food insecurity had increased incidence of diabetes 10 years later, according to a Washington State University study. While previous research has associated food insecurity with a range of health issues including diabetes, obesity and hypertension, this study showed a connection over time, suggesting a causal relationship.
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Researcher Lois James poses with a patient manikin in the Nursing Simulation Lab. Nurses’ communication and driving skills suffer after 12‑hour night shifts

Mar. 16, 2022

Working consecutive 12-hour night shifts impairs a nurse’s communication skills and driving abilities, a three-year study by researchers at Washington State University found.
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Photo of businessman looking at clocks with different times drawn on blackboardStudy challenges advice to perform different tasks at specific times

Feb. 16, 2022

Contrary to popular productivity advice, the optimal time of day to write emails, conduct meetings or crunch numbers does not inherently differ from task to task, according to new research led by Washington State University sleep scientists.
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Woman with dogBiggest WSU research stories of 2021

Feb. 16, 2022

Two stories covering research studies led by scientists at WSU Spokane made the top 10 research stories of 2021, ranking 8th and 9th, respectively.
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Photo of hand on shoulder of elderly person portraying social supportSocial support may lower American Indians’ risk of cardiovascular disease, death

Feb. 14, 2022

Improving social support and connectedness could not only lower depression symptoms but also help reduce cardiovascular disease and death in older American Indians, according to a new analysis led by scientists at Washington State University.
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Nurse hand holding thermometer with high temperature result from senior female patient
Discovery could help finetune immunity to fight infections, disease

February 8, 2022

Research led by Washington State University scientists supports a novel theory that the innate immune system people are born with can respond differently to specific pathogens. This quality, known as immunological specificity, was previously ascribed only to the adaptive immune system, which develops over time through disease exposure.
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Picture of stethoscope wrapped around a globe to depict environmental healthEnvironmental Health Research Institute launched by $1 million NIH grant

Jan. 26, 2022

A consortium of the Washington State University College of Nursing, Emory University, the University of Alabama Huntsville, and Castner Incorporated have received a $1 million National Institutes of Health grant to provide environmental health research training.
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Doctor holding cannabis in one hand and pills in the other handCannabis use could cause harmful drug interactions

Dec. 13, 2021

Using cannabis alongside other drugs may come with a significant risk of harmful drug-drug interactions, new research by scientists at Washington State University suggests. The researchers looked at cannabinoids and their major metabolites found in cannabis users’ blood and found that they interfere with two families of enzymes that help metabolize a wide range of drugs.
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Image of cannabis buds stored in pots at a cannabis store counterBudtenders, healthcare providers seek more training as cannabis use rises sharply in perinatal women

Nov. 15, 2021

In the absence of consistent counseling from healthcare providers, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are getting information on using cannabis from the retail marijuana workers known as budtenders, according to a study led by Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, vice chancellor for research at WSU Health Sciences.
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Blackboard with the chemical formula of MethadoneIncreased take‑home methadone during pandemic did not worsen outcomes

Nov. 1, 2021

Relaxing limits on take-home doses of methadone—a medication used to treat opioid addiction—does not appear to lead to worse treatment outcomes, according to a new study led by Washington State University researchers. The study looked at the impact of a temporary policy change allowing providers to send patients home with additional methadone doses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Research Highlights

Making an Impact
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy shows promise for opioid addiction treatment

Two men are shown receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy inside a pressurized chamberHyperbaric oxygen therapy may help people being treated for opioid addiction reduce their methadone dose and better manage pain and withdrawal symptoms, according to a pair of studies led by Washington State University scientists.
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Researcher on the Rise
Q&A with Chathuri Kombala

Portrait photo of Chathuri KombalaWe’ve all done our share of remote work these past two years due to the pandemic, but for Chathuri Kombala—a postdoctoral research associate in the College of Medicine—it’s an essential part of the job. As the first joint postdoc in a newly established gut microbiome science partnership between WSU and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL), Kombala has been working at PNNL’s main campus in Richland since first joining in August 2020.
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Watch Now: Wake Up with Research

Watch the March 31 Wake Up with Research event, “Building Knowledge for a Healthier World.”


Media Mentions

A Discover Magazine article titled “The Microbiome Impacts Sleep Quality, and Vice Versa” mentions research led by Éva Szentirmai (College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) that showed that butyrate—a metabolite produced by bacteria in the gut—enhanced sleep in an animal model.

A study led by Astrid Suchy-Dicey (College of Medicine/IREACH) is featured as a Research Highlight on the National Institute on Aging’s website and was also covered on Being Patient, a news and community platform focused on Alzheimer’s disease. The study describes a recently published paper that suggests that APOE4—a gene thought to be a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease—did not appear to be associated with signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s in American Indians. Another study published by Suchy-Dicey on the link between social support and cardiovascular disease and death also gained attention in a variety of media outlets, including Spokane Public Radio, Northwest Public Broadcasting, and the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Kimberly Honn (College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) was quoted in a recent Spokesman-Review piece on a proposed federal law that would make daylight saving time permanent across the country. In the article, she commends the decision to stop the twice-annual changing of the clocks while explaining the pros and cons of moving to permanent daylight saving time versus permanent standard time. Separately, Honn was interviewed by TriCities-based NBC affiliate KNDO for a TV feature on a recent study that challenges the idea that based on the biological clock there is a best time of day to complete certain types of tasks.

In a recent Pacific Northwest Inlander article, Glen Duncan (College of Medicine/Program in Exercise Physiology and Nutrition) touted the benefits of exercise as medicine and discussed barriers that keep people from realizing those benefits.

Two research stories out of Spokane made the Top 10 WSU research stories for 2021, which was compiled by WSU News Service staff and published in the WSU Insider. They include a news story on a study that shows how night shift work increases cancer risk (ranked 8th) and one that describes research that suggests using cannabis alongside conventional medications may cause harmful drug-drug interactions (ranked 9th).


Awards & Honors

Portrait photo of John RollJohn Roll, a professor and vice dean for research in the College of Medicine, recently received the university’s highest faculty honor, the Sahlin Eminent Faculty Award. The award recognizes a scholar whose scholarly contributions have changed the thinking in his field. Roll is a leader in developing and adapting behavioral strategies to address substance use disorders, including an intervention known as contingency management that he helped refine and popularize. In a separate honor, Roll was selected as the winner of the 2022 MED Associates Brady-Schuster Award, an award presented by the American Psychological Association Division 28, Psychopharmacology and Substance Use. The award honors scientists with an established record of outstanding research underscoring the fundamental importance of behavioral science to psychopharmacology or substance abuse.

Portrait photo of Deepak AhireThird-year PhD student Deepak Ahire (College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences) was honored as the Highlighted Trainee Author for the March 2022 issue of the journal Drug Metabolism and Disposition. Ahire, who conducts research in the laboratory of Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Bhagwat Prasad, was selected based on a published study in which he quantified two newly discovered drug-metabolizing enzymes—mARC1 and mARC2—in tissue samples from adults and children. Data from this study will be helpful for the development of computer-based models to predict inter-individual variability in drug metabolism.


Newly Tenured/Promoted Researchers

Portrait photos of all tenured and promoted researchers as listed belowCongratulations to our newly tenured and/or promoted researchers, whose work is contributing toward solving society’s most pressing health challenges:

College of Nursing
Celestina Barbosa-Leiker
– promoted to professor

College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Zhaokang Cheng
– granted tenure/promoted to associate professor
John Clarke – granted tenure/promoted to associate professor
Senthil Natesan – granted tenure/promoted to associate professor
Boyang Wu – granted tenure/promoted to associate professor

Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Naomi Chaytor
– promoted to professor
Kimberly Honn – granted tenure/promoted to associate professor
Sterling McPherson – promoted to professor
Éva Szentirmai – promoted to professor


Funding Highlights

Portrait photo of Devon HansenAssistant professor Devon Hansen (Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) has received a $270,903 Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research. The grant will support the purchase of specialized equipment for the newly established clinical sleep research laboratory, adding to a total of $950K in previous support for the facility’s design and construction provided by the Sunderland Foundation, Cowles Foundation, Washington Research Foundation, omnibus funds, and other internal funding sources. The clinical sleep research laboratory will enable WSU sleep scientists to extend their work on the consequences of sleep loss and shift work from healthy humans to sleep-disordered populations. Equipment purchases supported by this grant includes LED-based adaptable lighting for circadian rhythm shifting and alertness-enhancing interventions such as blue-enriched light exposure; polysomnographic recording equipment; and IT infrastructure.

Portrait photo of Janessa GravesAssociate Professor Janessa Graves (College of Nursing) has received $107,000 in subaward funding from the University of Washington to help the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries conduct a planning analysis related to risk of harms from lower back surgery. Graves will help analyze Washington State workers’ compensation claims data to establish normative rates of reoperation and complications following this type of surgery; identify worker characteristics and operative features associated with surgical harms; and develop a predictive model to estimate the risk-adjusted variation in surgeons’ reoperation and complications rates. This work will assist the Department of Labor and Industries in implementing the risk of harms as part of ESSB 5801, which comprises state legislation related to workers’ compensation for public safety workers, such as firefighters and law enforcement officers. The ultimate goal of this work is to support a network of high-value surgery providers, improve the selection of workers as candidates for surgery, identify high-risk subgroups, identify strategies for quality improvement, and help inform surgical decision-making.

Portrait photo of Anna Zamora-KapoorAssistant Professor Anna Zamora-Kapoor (Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/IREACH) has received a three-year, $150K award from the Alzheimer’s Association to study the link between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and cognitive performance in American Indians. One in three men and one in six women over the age of 50 suffer from OSA, a disorder that causes the upper airway to collapse during sleep, disrupting normal breathing. Recent research suggests OSA increases the risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease are five times more likely to experience OSA than those without, and about half of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease have experienced OSA after being diagnosed. The strongest risk factor for OSA is obesity. American Indians have the highest rates of obesity in the nation, and yet they are underrepresented in OSA research studies. This study will address this gap through an analysis of data from three previously conducted, federally funded studies on health-related risk behaviors, sleep-disordered breathing, and cerebrovascular disease.


Grant & Contract Award Summary
January 1 – March 31, 2022

This summary provides an overview of funding activity in the third quarter of this fiscal year, which covers awards for new and continuing research and other sponsored projects received between January 1 and March 31.
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