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Delivery person handing bag of groceries through front door of home. Washington boosts access to grocery delivery for SNAP recipients

July 11, 2022

A pilot project in Washington to make online grocery buying more widely available to SNAP recipients is already near its goal, buoyed in part by pandemic shutdowns. But though nearly 80% of beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — previously known as food stamps — have access to online grocery buying and delivery in the state, those services are concentrated in urban areas, a new study by WSU College of Nursing PhD student Shawna Beese found.
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Illustration of human brain and neuronGleason Institute awards grants for neurodegenerative disease research

June 21, 2022

Four research teams have received more than $160,000 in seed grant funding from the WSU Spokane Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience for research projects related to neurodegenerative diseases.
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Image shows a model of a brain and neuronWSU researchers to close gaps in Alzheimer’s disease research

June 6, 2022

Researchers at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane will spend the next three years conducting research aimed at improving brain health in older adults, thanks to nearly $500,000 in grants funded by the Alzheimer’s Association.
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Hui Zhang is show in his laboratory on the WSU Spokane campus

Discovery could lead to better cancer immunotherapy

May 31, 2022

A type of white blood cell previously known only as a helper in the immune system appears also to be the instigator of the body’s defenses against cancerous tumors. The discovery could lead to more effective cancer immunotherapy.
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Image of ambulance inside Washington State outlineWashington state minorities die at younger ages from opioids than whites

May 26, 2022

While opioid-use cuts across socio-economic boundaries, racial and ethnic minorities in Washington state are more likely to suffer fatal overdoses earlier in their lives than non-Hispanic white residents, according to a recent study.
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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.
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Two men are shown receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy inside a pressurized chamberHyperbaric oxygen therapy helps treat opioid addiction

April 11, 2022

Hyperbaric 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 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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Research Highlights

Making an Impact
Native Americans face disproportionate travel burden for cancer treatment

Image shows a linear accelerator used for cancer therapy

Experiencing higher rates of certain cancers than non-Hispanic whites, many Native Americans have to travel especially large distances to access radiation therapy, according to a study led by Washington State University researchers.

Published in the journal Value in Health, the study found that individuals living in U.S. neighborhoods with majority American Indian and Alaska Native populations have to travel around 40 miles farther to the nearest radiation therapy facility than those living in neighborhoods dominated by other racial groups.
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Researcher on the Rise
Q&A with Patrick Solverson

Portrait photo of Patrick SolversonIn July 2020—while the nation was still in the throes of COVID restrictions—Patrick Solverson drove across the country from Vermont to start his new position as an assistant professor in the WSU College of Medicine’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology. Stored safely in his back seat was $3,000 worth of pure elderberry juice, an essential component of his research on the potential effects of elderberry juice consumption on obesity and metabolic disease.
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Media Mentions

Neuroscientist and sleep researcher Marcos Frank (College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) talked to CNN for an article that explains why dogs look like they are running while sleeping. The article was also picked up by a variety of print and broadcast news media across the country and around the world.

Spectrum—a news outlet focused on autism research—recently featured scientist Lucia Peixoto (College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) as a rising star for her research on the connection between sleep and autism.

Seattle-based KOMO News interviewed Solmaz Amiri (College of Medicine/IREACH) for a TV news segment on a study that showed that minorities living in Washington state die at younger ages from opioids than whites.

Research by Cassandra Nguyen (College of Medicine/IREACH) that shows that food insecurity in young adulthood increases diabetes risk later in life was the topic of an article on health news site HealthDay.

Hans Van Dongen (College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center) was quoted in a MedPageToday article that covered a panel discussion on the contribution of sleep deprivation to healthcare worker burnout. Van Dongen was one of the featured panelists at the event, which took place as part of the SLEEP 2022 conference held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early June.

Ka’imi Sinclair (College of Nursing/IREACH) was quoted in a Native News Online article titled, “Dementia and Alzheimer’s in Indian Country.” The article explains how historical events and cultural nuances contribute to current-day challenges in reducing Alzheimer’s-related health disparities in Native populations.

A study on the impact of loosening restrictions on take-home methadone doses led by Ofer Amram (College of Medicine) was mentioned in an LA Times article highlighting barriers to treatment access in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.

Research led by Phil Lazarus (College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences) that suggests cannabis use can cause harmful drug-drug interactions was the topic of a recent Washington State Magazine feature titled ‘Weeding Out Drug Clash.”

Awards & Honors

Portrait photo of Oladunni OluwoyeThe National Institute of Mental Health is featuring Oladunni Oluwoye—an assistant professor and researcher in the College of Medicine—as one of three women leading mental health research. The section highlights early-career women scientists who conduct NIMH-funded research that advances its mission of transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illness. Oluwoye’s research focuses on improving family engagement in first episode psychosis treatment, with a focus on racial equity in treatment access.

Portrait image of Bhagwat PrasadAssociate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Bhagwat Prasad has been named senior editor of the journal Pharmacology Research & Perspectives, serving a three-year term. The bimonthly, open-access journal is jointly published by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), the British Pharmacological Society (BPS), and publishing company Wiley.

Portrait photo of Celestina Barbosa-LeikerThe WSU Association for Faculty Women recently presented WSU Spokane executive vice chancellor for research and administration Celestina Barbosa-Leiker with its 2022 Sam H. Smith Leadership Award. Barbosa-Leiker received the award for her efforts to advance the role of women at the university. In a separate honor, Washington STEM also highlighted her as a Notable Woman in STEM.

Mary Paine receives her award certificate from Chancellor Daryll DeWald and College of Pharmacy Dean Mark LeidProfessor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Mary Paine (at right, center) was named the recipient of this year’s Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Research and Scholarship. Paine leads the Center of Excellence for Natural Product Drug Interaction Research (NaPDI Center), an NIH-funded, multidisciplinary effort that aims to establish best practices on studying the complex interactions between natural products—such as cannabis, green tea, goldenseal, and kratom—and pharmaceutical drugs. Other researchers honored during the award ceremony include Anna Zamora-Kapoor (College of Medicine/IREACH), who received the Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Diversity and Inclusion, and Bhagwat Prasad (College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences), who was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Excellence Award for Service and Community Impact.

Funding Highlights

Portrait photo of Ka'imi SinclairAssociate professor Ka’imi Sinclair (College of Nursing/IREACH) has received a four-year, $1,188,730 grant from the American Heart Association for a project aimed at increasing the participation of American Indians in clinical trials. American Indians experience considerable health disparities compared to the general US population yet remain underrepresented in research. Without participants from a broad range of backgrounds, researchers cannot fully understand how study findings will translate into real-world application. This new project will involve a study to identify key factors that facilitate or hinder American Indian participation in clinical trials. This will be followed by the development and evaluation of a novel intervention—“Research Is Ceremony”—to promote participation and retention of American Indians in an existing clinical trial on the effects on cognition of positive airway pressure treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. Findings from this research may be broadly applicable to other populations and help advance the science of diversity in clinical trials.

Portrait photo of Marian WilsonPortrait photo of Michael McDonellProfessor Michael McDonell (Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine) and associate professor Marian Wilson (College of Nursing) have received $930,065 in funding from the National Institute of Health’s Native American Research Centers for Health program for a four-year study of the relationship between cannabis use and pain at a Native health clinic. Previous research suggests that THC in cannabis may have a positive effect on anxiety, depression, and sleep. This raises the possibility that THC not only provides direct pain relief but may also ease symptoms associated with pain, such as poor sleep and mood. The WSU research team will conduct a comprehensive analysis of patient demographics and data on cannabis use, pain, mood, and sleep to determine how cannabis impacts pain intensity and interference in 350 adults seeking pain care at a Native-owned and operated natural healing clinic in Washington State. The grant will also provide opportunities for research training for Native students through Northwest Indian College—a partner on this grant—and WSU’s Native American Health Sciences Program.

Portrait photo of Bhagwat PrasadAssociate professor Bhagwat Prasad (College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences) has been awarded a $150K contract with Takeda Millennium, a pharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of medications for cancer treatment. The funding supports a project that is part of the Proteomics-based Research Initiative for Non-CYP Enzymes (PRINCE), a research collaboration between Washington State University and pharmaceutical companies Genentech, Gilead, and Takeda. The project is aimed at improving the predictability of drug metabolism and drug interaction of new candidate drugs. Non-cytochrome P450 (non-CYP) enzymes play an important role in the metabolism of many drugs. When drug metabolism findings in non-CYP enzymes cannot be reliably extrapolated from an in vitro environment (i.e., test tube or petri dish) to in vivo (a living organism), this results in unpredictable pharmacokinetics and safety of drugs. To address these challenges, Prasad and his team will test a novel in vitro to in vivo extrapolation approach in both an in vitro system and human tissues.

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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Watch Now: Wake Up with Research

The 2021/2022 Wake Up with Research series has concluded. You can watch the last event in the series—”Building Knowledge for a Healthier World,” held on March 31—by pressing “play” in the above window. Please check back in the fall for the next series of Wake Up with Research events.

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