Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane

Past Feature Stories

WSU team to study care of babies exposed to drugs

January 2024

Close up of unrecognizable young mother with her newborn baby in slingAs overdose deaths from fentanyl are soaring across the nation, researchers at Washington State University Spokane are focusing on a new way to help the youngest victims of the opioid crisis—babies going through substance withdrawal after being exposed before birth, a condition known as neonatal abstinence syndrome. As part of a state-supported pilot project, a team of researchers in the WSU colleges of nursing and medicine will spend the next year studying health outcomes at Maddie’s Place, a newly opened, Spokane-based transitional care nursery that provides care and support for drug-exposed babies and moms.
» Read more

New lab to test home health technologies, train tech-savvy nurses

October 2023

Abstract image of nurse with tablet and technology icons projectedA new Washington State University laboratory focused on home health technologies could potentially improve health outcomes and quality of life for adults with chronic conditions.

Led by nurse scientists, the Nurse Technology Enhanced Care at Home (NTECH) lab will test off-the-shelf health innovations and develop new technologies to manage chronic conditions at home. Down the line, it will also provide a training ground for aspiring nurse scientists looking to enter the health technology field.
» Read more

WSU helps state pilot new substance use treatment

August 2023

Substance use research at Washington State University helped spur a recent change in Washington state policy to provide Medicaid coverage for contingency management, a behavioral treatment that uses gift cards and small prizes to help motivate people to quit using drugs. WSU researchers, who have been conducting studies that show contingency management’s effectiveness for decades, have spent the past two years providing training and coaching to a small number of Washington state clinics implementing the intervention to treat stimulant drug addiction as part of a pilot project sponsored by the state Health Care Authority.
» Read more

Research Addresses Mental Health, Substance Use in Supportive Housing

May 2023

An apartment buildingAs cities across the state and country are struggling to deal with a worsening homelessness crisis, a group of WSU scientists is helping to improve outcomes for people in permanent supportive housing. Working with housing providers in Spokane, Seattle, and Los Angeles, researchers in the Promoting Research Initiatives in Substance Use and Mental Health (PRISM) Collaborative are leading projects aimed at addressing homelessness.
» Read more

Comparison with Canada highlights poor access to US methadone treatment

March 2023

Recovery road sign with arrow pointing left on blue sky background.People living in the United States must travel significantly farther to access methadone treatment for opioid addiction than Canadians, suggests a new study led by Washington State University researchers. The researchers’ analysis showed that the average driving distance to the closest methadone clinic accepting new patients was more than three times greater in the U.S. compared to Canada. When limiting their analysis to clinics that could provide treatment within 48 hours the difference was even larger, with those in the U.S. having to travel more than five times farther than their neighbors north of the border.
» Read more

Ensuring drug safety in underrepresented populations

January 2023

Group photo of Dr. Prasad and his research team in the labWashington State University scientists are helping to develop safer drug dosing standards for children and other populations that are underrepresented in clinical drug trials, such as pregnant women, older adults taking multiple medications, and people from certain ethnic groups. Bhagwat Prasad, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is leading the research, which could help pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals determine the right dosing for many drugs prescribed to children that have only ever been tested in adults.
» Read more

Twin research sheds light on how lifestyle, environment impact health

October 2022

A pair of twins is shown who prefer different food choices (apple vs. hamburger)Many people’s best ideas may come in the shower, but for Dedra Buchwald—director of the WSU Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health—one stroke of research genius hit her at her local driver’s licensing office almost 25 years ago. A professor of medicine at the University of Washington at the time, Buchwald had gone in to replace a lost driver’s license. While filling out a form, a question caught her eye: “Are you a twin or a triplet?”
» Read more

Researcher spearheads new way to screen kids for autism

August 2022

Staff in Georgina Lynch's lab demonstrate the use of a monocular pupillometer to measure the pupillary light reflexMeasuring how the eyes’ pupils change in response to light—known as the pupillary light reflex—could potentially be used to screen for autism in young children, according to a study conducted at Washington State University. First author Georgina Lynch said the proof-of-concept study builds on earlier work to support the continued development of a portable technology that could provide a quick and easy way to screen children for autism, a disorder that affects communication and social interaction with others.
» Read more

Native Americans face disproportionate travel burden for cancer treatment

June 2022

Image shows a linear accelerator used for cancer therapyExperiencing 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.
» Read more

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy shows promise for opioid addiction treatment

April 2022

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.

The research team recruited participants enrolled in a local opioid treatment program to test the effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment that involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized environment.
» Read more

Discovery could help finetune immunity to fight infections, disease

February 2022

Researcher Jingru Sun uses a microinjection microscope to create genetically modified C.elegans for an experiment.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.

Published in the journal Cell Reports, the study suggests that this innate immune specificity is driven by the nervous system and identifies a neuronal protein as a critical link in the process.
» Read more

Cannabis use could cause harmful drug interactions

December 2021

Doctor holding cannabis in one hand and pills in the other handUsing 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—a group of substances found in the cannabis plant—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 prescribed for a variety of conditions.
» Read more

Research helps tackle health barriers for people with disabilities

October 2021

Portrait photo of Jae KennedyAbout one in every four U.S. adults lives with a disability. Adding up to an estimated 61 million Americans, people with disabilities are easily the largest minority in the nation. Yet their minority status isn’t always recognized to the extent it should be, said Jae Kennedy, a professor in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine who has spent the past 30 years studying how public policy affects those with disabilities.
» Read more

Research identifies potential role of ‘junk DNA’ in aging, cancer

July 2021

Aging researcher Jiyue zhu talks to members of his research laboratory on the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campusThe human body is essentially made up of trillions of living cells. It ages as its cells age, which happens when those cells eventually stop replicating and dividing. Scientists have long known that genes influence how cells age and how long humans live, but how that works exactly remains unclear. Findings from a new study led by researchers at Washington State University have solved a small piece of that puzzle, bringing scientists one step closer to solving the mystery of aging.
» Read more