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Grant and Contract Awards

FY2019, 2nd Quarter Summary
(October 1 – December 31, 2018)

Scroll down to read, or use these links to jump directly to a section/principal investigator (PI):


(New grants, funding transferred from a PI’s previous institution, and NIH competitive renewal funding)



(New grants, funding transferred from a PI’s previous institution, and NIH competitive renewal funding)

Julie Akers (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation
“NACDSF Faculty Scholars Project: Assessing Patient Factors that Influence Access to Care in Community Pharmacies”
The goal of this new study is to understand patient-specific factors regarding the use of new community pharmacy patient care services in both urban and rural communities in Idaho. Through live participant surveys and key informant interviews at community pharmacy locations across Idaho, the study will determine patient awareness of new legislation and regulations in Idaho that allow community pharmacists to provide patient access to expanded services; assess where patients currently receive care for the services recently allowed within community pharmacies; and determine the ease of access to said care facility and patients’ willingness to receive that care from a community pharmacist. Understanding these factors may further increase access to care, which would  improve patient outcomes.

Chris Blodgett (PI) – WSU Extension, Child and Family Research Unit
US Department of Health and Human Services; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“CLEAR Trauma-Informed Schools Network”
As many as 20 percent of school age children are estimated to have two or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) by the time they begin school, increasing their risk for trauma symptoms and developmental problems. This grant supports nationwide dissemination of the Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience (CLEAR) trauma-informed school response model— developed by the WSU Child and Family Research Unit (CAFRU)—to help educators and other school professionals recognize, understand, and deal with the effects of children’s exposure to ACEs. The goal is to help schools reduce the impact of early trauma. The project will establish a CLEAR network consisting of five regional partner centers across the United States that will support dissemination of the CLEAR model in a network of voluntary schools—it will use two current regional CLEAR partner centers at the University of California San Francisco and Public Health Seattle-King County, as well as establish three additional centers in other regions of the country. CLEAR is implemented through coaching by trauma specialists who work with school staff and leadership for two days per month over a period of three years.

Weihang Chai (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute
Molecular modulator of RPA and RAD51 in maintaining genome stability”
Maintaining genome stability is important for preventing the formation of cancer. Genome stability is constantly threatened by internal and external influences that impede normal DNA replication and cause replication fork stalling. Stalled forks need to be properly repaired and rescued to prevent DNA lesions and genome instabilities that contribute to the formation of cancer. This study aims to improve our understanding of the molecular mechanism that helps stabilize and restart stalled forks. It will specifically look at the RAD51 and RPA protein families, which recent studies have shown to play a crucial role in fork stabilization and restart. Recent findings by the principal investigator suggest that a DNA-binding protein complex known as CST modulates RPA and RAD51 in response to DNA replication stress. The goal of this project is therefore to understand the molecular relationship between CST, RAD51 and RPA in fork rescue, with will provide novel insights into how cells counteract DNA damage caused by genotoxins.

Panshak Dakup (PI); Shobhan Gaddameedhi – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
American Heart Association
“Harnessing the circadian clock to attenuate radiation-induced cardiotoxicity”
Radiation therapy is commonly used in breast, lung, and esophageal cancer treatment. Despite technological advances to improve the precision of radiation therapy, a substantial number of patients—particularly those with breast cancer—receive radiation to their hearts. This leads to cardiotoxicity that can eventually result in congestive heart failure and cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease). Heart cells and nearly every other cell in the body have circadian clocks, the internal 24-hour day-night rhythm that regulates DNA repair, cell death, and cardiac function processes. This study will use a mouse model to identify key molecular mechanisms regulated by the circadian clock that could be used to protect heart tissue from toxicity induced by radiation therapy. It will provide new insights into the use of the natural circadian system in minimizing cardiotoxicity in cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

Devon Hansen (PI); Matthew Layton; Hans Van Dongen – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center
Mars Inc.
“Effect of Mastication on Sustained Attention”
The goal of this study is to quantify the impact of mastication—or chewing gum—on sustained attention, the ability to stay focused on a task. The study will compare participant outcomes on sustained performance tasks completed while chewing a piece of gum and while not chewing a piece of gum.

Kimberly McKeirnan (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Institute for Translational Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health
“ITHS Translational Research Scholars Program”
This award provides funding to Kimberly McKeirnan as part of the ITHS Translational Research Scholars Program, a faculty career-development program that provides promising early stage investigators from the WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho) region with career development funds for one year. As part of the program, McKeirnan will undertake a pilot research project aimed at better understanding patient opinions about using smart-phone technology to improve medication adherence and health outcomes. Medication non-adherence—not taking medications as directed and/or not refilling prescriptions on time—can lead to worse clinical outcomes, decreased quality of life, and increased healthcare costs, particularly in patients with chronic conditions. Data from the project will be used to apply for an NIH Research Enhancement (R15) Award that would support a larger study on this topic.

Kathryn Meier (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
“Mechanistic studies of GPCR-mediated growth inhibition in cancer cells”
This award provides funding to continue studies of the molecular mechanisms by which G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the free fatty acid receptor (FFAR) family are able to suppress growth of cancer cells. The research will build on previous study findings by the PI that showed that omega-3 fatty acids inhibited the spread of prostate cancer cells and that this effect was mediated by a receptor known as FFA4. FFA4 and related receptors are activated by omega-3 fatty acids in our diets, such as those found in fish, nuts, and seeds. The goal of the study is to gather preliminary data for a grant application for a National Institutes of Health R01 grant. The work may eventually lead to the development of therapeutic agents that could help suppress cancer growth

Senthil Natesan (PI); K. Michael Gibson – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Speragen Inc.
“In Silico Identification of Novel GHB Receptor Ligands for SSADH Deficiency, a Disorder of GABA Metabolism”
Inherited succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (SSADHD) is a rare disorder of gamma‐aminobutyric acid (GABA) metabolism. GABA is a neurotransmitter that controls movements in humans, and an imbalance in GABA levels causes major neurological abnormalities. In patients with SSADHD, GABA and another neurotransmitter—gamma‐hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)—accumulate in the brain. Highly elevated GHB is the biochemical hallmark of SSADHD. The goal of this study is to use state-of-the-art computer modeling techniques to identify high-potency ligands for GHB receptors. Previous studies have suggested that blocking the effects of GHB reduces neurological symptoms in a mouse model of SSADHD. This new study could lay the foundation for further studies to evaluate the efficacy of blocking specific GHB receptors to treat SSADHD and could lead to the development of targeted therapeutics for the disorder.

Senthil Natesan (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Specifics of ‘Non-Specific Membrane Interactions’ of Drugs: An Integrated Approach for Understanding Structure-Membrane Interaction Relationships”
The majority of clinically important drugs target proteins bound to membranes. Membranes are the outer boundary of a living cell or internal cell compartment and are made up of a layer of lipids (fat molecules) and proteins. The partitioning of drugs within the lipid cell membrane or membranes of the internal cell compartments (organelles) affects their interaction with these membrane-bound proteins, influencing their efficacy and fate in the body. While membrane-drug interactions can produce desirable results, excessive membrane accumulation of drugs causes undesirable toxicities through unexpected interactions. As part of this study, the principal investigator will develop, validate, and apply a computer modeling approach to quickly and accurately predict membrane partitioning characteristics of short- and long-acting asthma drugs with diverse structural and physicochemical properties. The goal is to better understand the interaction between membranes and drug molecules and to apply that knowledge to the design of new therapeutics aimed for membrane-associated proteins. The hypothesis is that doing so will result in improved efficacy, selectivity, and safety of these new drugs.

Hans Van Dongen (PI); Devon Hansen – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center
Washington Research Foundation
“Clinical Sleep Research Facility”
This funding supports the expansion of a laboratory build-out to support clinical studies of sleep, sleep disorders, and other sleep-related topics, including collaborations with other WSU areas of expertise, such as addictions, pain, and cancer. As part of the build-out, clinical rooms are being built that are integrated in the existing sleep and simulation laboratories of the Sleep and Performance Research Center.

Kathryn Vela (PI); Electra Enslow – Spokane Academic Library
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health; National Network of Libraries of Medicine
“Data Visualization Lab”
This award provides funds for the WSU Spokane Academic Library to create a data visualization lab that will allow those involved in research to learn about data visualization software. Library staff will also teach 10 hands-on workshops on the use of key data visualization software to improve researchers’ ability to use these programs with their data; hold data consultations as needed to help researchers with data-related questions; and provide open drop-in hours to allow researchers to explore and practice data visualization techniques. The ultimate goal is to add value to the research students, faculty, and staff are producing at WSU Spokane by helping them improve the visual displays of the data generated by their research.


(Renewal, continued, and supplemental funding for projects awarded previously)

Dedra Buchwald (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of Utah/National Institutes of Health; National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“National Research Mentoring Network (GUMSHOE)”
This subaward provides renewal funding for Dr. Buchwald to co-lead the GUMSHOE program, one of four professional development-training programs in the National Research Mentoring Network for a Diverse Biomedical Workforce. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the network was created to address the unmet need for greater diversity in the biomedical and biobehavioral research workforce. GUMSHOE (Grantwriting Uncovered: Maximizing Strategies, Help, Opportunities, Experiences) provides twice-yearly grant writing workshops and mentoring to early career faculty from diverse backgrounds wanting to prepare an application for NIH funding, with a particular focus on projects in underserved or rural communities.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Astrid Suchy-Dicey; Amanda Boyd; Meghan Jernigan; Lonnie Nelson – WSU Spokane/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health/Murrow College of Communication
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging
“Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center”
This subaward renews the funding for WSU’s role in an NIH center grant to establish a satellite core of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in Seattle. The WSU team will conduct a research project that will recruit participants of the Strong Heart Stroke Study to examine stroke, vascular brain injury, cognitive function, and Alzheimer’s disease and their consequences in about 450 elder American Indians. The Strong Heart Stroke Study is a follow-up study to the Strong Heart Study, a large longitudinal cohort study examining cardiovascular disease and its risk factors in American Indians.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Clemma Muller; Robert Rosenman – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health; School of Economic Sciences
University of Colorado Denver/National Institutes of Health
“Collaborative Hub to Reduce the Burden of Suicide among Urban AI and AN – Suicide Prevention for Urban Natives: Keeping Our Youth (SPUNKY)”
These are continued funds for a contract to support the development and implementation of a caring communications intervention and randomized trial to reduce suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide-related hospitalizations among Native youth living in urban areas. The project will also seek to increase social connectedness, as well as promote retention in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment programs.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Lonnie Nelson; Michael McDonell; Sterling McPherson; Clemma Muller; Robert Rosenman; –Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health; School of Economic Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
“Native Center for Alcohol Research and Education”
This award continues a five-year grant that funds the establishment of the Native Center for Alcohol Research and Education at WSU, in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Washington. The center will offer research programs to identify and promote effective preventive interventions tailored to Native infants, youth, and adults in urban, rural, and frontier communities. The goal is to reduce the profound alcohol-related health disparities experienced by this underserved population and improve the quality of life of Native people with alcohol use disorders, their families, and their communities.

Weihang Chai (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Role of telomerase in DSB repair”
This award represents continued funding for a two-year study to uncover the role of telomerase in repairing double-strand breaks, one of the most harmful types of DNA damage. Accurate repair of double-strand breaks is important for preserving genome stability and preventing tumor growth. It also impacts how tumors respond to radiation therapy and many chemotherapy drugs. Telomerase—an enzyme normally involved in preserving telomeres, the protective ends of chromosomes that keep cells from dying—has been shown to be involved in a process known as telomere sequence insertion (TSI). TSI is the indiscriminate addition of telomeric repeats at intra-chromosomal double-strand breaks. Previous studies have shown that TSI causes chromosome breakage, recombination, and rearrangement that can lead to genome instability. The goal of this study is to find the molecular mechanism that suppresses TSI to ensure accurate repair. In addition to providing novel insights into double-strand break repair and genome instabilities, this research may lead to the development of new cancer treatments.

Naomi Chaytor (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of North Carolina/National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Nursing Research
“Prediction of Functional Outcomes from Chronic Critical Illness”
This is continued funding for WSU’s assistance in a multicenter study to measure risk factors for long-term physical and cognitive dysfunction in chronic critical illness. A substantial number of critically ill patients experience persistent organ failure leading to chronic critical illness. The majority of these patients die within a year. Many survivors must cope with severe, long‐term physical and cognitive limitations, which present a significant clinical, emotional, and economic burden. The subcontract provides funding for Chaytor to oversee cognitive and functional outcomes from the study. The project will provide new tools for patients and clinicians to understand chronic critical illness, informing bedside decision making and future medical and resource interventions for this extremely high‐risk patient group.

Glen Duncan (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
“Validation and application of portable particulate device in the UW Twin Registry”
This is renewal funding for a two‐part study to assess the associations between environmental exposures and health outcomes, using a new wearable device for measuring environmental toxicants called the Portable University of Washington Particle Monitor (PUWPM). The study will use pairs of adult twins from the community‐based UW Twin Registry to explore the associations between exposures to air pollution, noise, and other environmental factors; physical activity, diet, psychosocial stress, and clinical outcomes such as blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference; and biological markers related to inflammation and stress. It may ultimately lead to new insights linking environmental, behavioral, and genetic aspects of chronic disease.

Ashley Ingiosi (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; Dept. of Biomedical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“Contributions of Astroglial Calcium Activity to Sleep Homeostasis”
This is continued funding for a project to determine the cellular mechanisms that underlie sleep homeostasis, the process that regulates the pressure to sleep based on prior wakefulness. Since impaired sleep homeostasis can cause poor sleep, it’s important to understand the cellular processes involved in sleep homeostasis. This study will look at glial astrocytes, which are found throughout the brain and may play a central role in sleep homeostasis. Astrocytes drive how the brain tries to compensate for sleep loss. Because the chemical signaling between glial astrocytes is associated with changes in intracellular calcium, this study will use a mouse model to test the hypothesis that intracellular calcium dynamics contribute to the accumulation and discharge of the pressure to sleep. Study results will provide new insights into how glial astrocytes affect sleep homeostasis and will bring scientists one step closer to understanding the underlying causes of abnormal sleep.

Michael McDonell (PI); Oladunni Oluwoye – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services/National Institutes of Health; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“First Episode Psychosis Evaluation”
This is renewal funding for a grant that funds activities related to the evaluation of the Washington State Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery’s first episode psychosis program in Yakima County. WSU will lead the quantitative evaluation of the program and will work with the University of Washington to conduct the qualitative evaluation. The first episode psychosis program was launched to enhance the recognition of early signs and symptoms of psychosis so that effective treatment can be started promptly.

Michael McDonell (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of California San Francisco/National Institutes of Health – NIAAA
“Interventions to reduce alcohol use and increase adherence to TB preventive therapy amount HIV/TB co-infected drinkers”
People with HIV worldwide are at a higher risk of being infected with tuberculosis (TB). That risk is three times as high in those with HIV who are heavy drinkers, compared to non-drinkers. Six months of isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) has been shown to reduce TB and mortality by 30 to 50 percent above the positive impact of antiretroviral therapy (ART), however there are issues related to liver toxicity and poor adherence to ART and IPT in those who drink. This award funds a continuing study that investigates whether use of economic incentives to reduce alcohol use can decrease toxicity and increase IPT completion. The study will look at 800 individuals in Uganda with HIV and TB infection and heavy alcohol use. The study will compare changes in alcohol use and IPT adherence after six months across four randomized participant groups: participants in the control group will not receive any incentives. One group will receive economic incentives for decreasing alcohol use only; another will receive economic incentives for IPT adherence only; and a final group will receive economic incentives for both decreasing alcohol use and IPT adherence, independently.

Sterling McPherson (PI); John Roll; Celestina Barbosa-Leiker – Elson. S. Floyd College of Medicine/ College of Nursing
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health
“Clinical Trial Network: Pacific Northwest Node”
This is renewal funding for a grant that supports the Pacific Northwest Node of the NIDA Clinical Trials Network (CTN). The Pacific Northwest Node is a multi-institution, multiple principal investigator effort to continue CTN’s mission to improve the quality of drug abuse treatment throughout the country through science.

Jean-Baptiste Roullet (PI); K. Michael Gibson – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Nebraska/National Institutes of Health – Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
“Sterol and Isoprenoid Diseases Consortium”
This renewal funding supports Roullet and Gibson’s leadership roles in the Sterol and Isoprenoid Diseases (STAIR) consortium, a collaborative group of investigators dedicated to clinical research on disorders related to the metabolism of cholesterol and other sterols and isoprenoids. Roullet serves as administrative director of the consortium and co-investigator of several ongoing or pending clinical studies. Gibson serves as director of the STAIR training and career development program and oversees all training activities for STAIR sites. This year’s funding will also pay for Roullet and Gibson to expand the STAIR research focus to rare diseases associated with neurosteroid deficiency and impaired neurotransmission.

Jingru Sun (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Institute for General Medical Sciences
“Neuronal and molecular mechanisms underlying neural regulation of innate immunity”
This award continues funding for a research study aimed at describing the relationship between the nervous system and the innate immune system in response to pathogen infection. The study uses a model organism known as C. elegans, a roundworm that has a simple, well-defined nervous system and an immune systems that resembles that of humans in key respects. Earlier work completed by the principal investigator in this area has found that a neurotransmitter known as octopamine works with specific proteins and neurons to suppress the innate immune response. This project will try to dissect the neuronal and molecular mechanisms that make up this immuno-inhibitory pathway. This work could lay the groundwork for new treatments for human health conditions linked to excessive immune responses, such as Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Zhenjia Wang (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Neutrophil-mediated Drug Delivery”
This is continued funding for a five‐year project to study how neutrophils—the most abundant type of white blood cells in the bloodstream—could be used as a vehicle for delivering therapeutic nanoparticles to specific parts of the body. This work may help design new drugs to treat inflammatory disorders underlying acute and chronic diseases, including cancer. Specifically, the study will look at the efficacy of using neutrophil‐mediated nanoparticle transport to treat acute lung injury, a devastating disease that cannot currently be treated with drugs.