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Grant and Contract Awards

FY2019, 3rd Quarter Summary
(January 1 – March 31, 2019)

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)

Solmaz Amiri (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
WSU Office of Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“Disparities in Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment and Opioid Overdose Mortality in Washington State”
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States and much of that crisis is driven by opioids. Using information on registered deaths in Washington State, the goal of this project is to identify geographic gaps in the availability and accessibility of medication-assisted treatment facilities for opioid use disorders and examine how poor access to medication-assisted treatment facilities is related to premature mortality. Medication-assisted treatment combines medication with behavioral therapy. These medications include methadone—which is offered at opioid treatment programs—and bruprenorphine opioid agonist therapy, which may be prescribed by health practitioners who meet specific training requirements. Results from this study will be presented using an interactive web mapping tool that will enable users to identify locations where gaps exist and deploy medication-assisted treatment services to high-risk areas.

Chris Blodgett (PI) – WSU Extension, Child and Family Research Unit
Westside Infant-Family Network/LA County Department of Mental Health
“Trauma Resilient Communities: Community Capacity Building”
Trauma from early life adversity is a public health challenge with broad impact across the general population and particular impact on children and adults with social, health, and emotional challenges. Under this contract, WSU’s Child and Family Research Unit will provide training to support the adoption or expansion of trauma-informed principles in organizational practices and services at multiple health, education, and social service agencies in westside Los Angeles.

Travis Denton (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Washington Research Foundation
“Analytical and In Vitro Analysis of ALS Candidates”
This award funds a project aimed at optimizing a lead chemical compound that could be used in a drug to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurological disorders. The Denton lab is working to develop and test a second generation of compounds that closely resemble a natural brain antioxidant known as lanthionine ketimine (LK). These new compounds are demonstrating better efficacy than the first generation, show no toxicity when tested in cell cultures, and increased lifespan and reduced symptoms in a fruit fly model of Parkinson’s disease. This funding enables the Denton lab to dedicate additional technician time and provide essential supplies to advance the lab’s progress, including testing the compounds in a fruit fly model of ALS.

Janet Frost (PI); Robert Danielson – College of Education
Spokane Community College
“Spokane Community College STEM Scholars Project”
This award provides funding for College of Education faculty members Janet Frost and Robert Danielson to serve as evaluators on the Spokane Community College’s STEM Scholars Project. They will develop and administer surveys and interviews of STEM scholarship recipients and the science faculty who work with them. The STEM Scholars Project pairs scholarship awards with student success supports to encourage students to pursue career pathways in biological sciences, chemistry, and earth sciences. The program targets students with demonstrated financial need and academic ability, with the goal of increasing entering cohort rates of recruitment, retention, and degree completion.

David H. Garcia (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction, Department of Migrant Education
“WSU Spokane Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy”
As part of this project. WSU Health Sciences Spokane will select 30 high-achieving migrant students from school districts in central and eastern Washington to attend the Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy on the WSU Spokane campus. The WSU Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy will provide these students with a seven-day/six-night on-campus experience that will help them build their skills and abilities in the areas of health sciences and provide them with experiences, resources, and information that will help prepare them for college.

Janessa Graves (PI) – College of Nursing
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“Implementation Fidelity and Benefits of the Critical Care Pediatric Guideline Adherence and Outcomes Program in Traumatic Brain Injury”
This is a subaward of a collaborative study between researchers in the U.S. and Argentina. The researchers will conduct a randomized controlled trial to determine whether an intervention known as the Pediatric Guideline Adherence and Outcomes (PEGASUS) program can increase adherence to guidelines for traumatic brain injury (TBI) care in children with severe TBI across six study sites in Argentina. As part of this study, Janessa Graves will design, prepare, and carry out a cost analysis of the PEGASUS intervention.

Janessa Graves (PI); Tracy Klein – College of Nursing
WSU Office of Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“Unintentional Marijuana Exposures among Children: A National Policy Evaluation”
This concerns internal WSU funding for a study on the impact of state public policies on unintentional marijuana poisoining among younger children. The goal is to evaluate the association between the incidence of unintentional pediatric marijuana exposure and marijuana policies in states with different levels of liberalization of marijuana policies. The researchers will examine state policies regarding the packaging and labeling of marijuana products in states with legalized retail marijuana. Using national poison center data, they will also test the association between policy content and strength and unintentional pediatric marijuana exposure. Finally, they will examine the relationship between marijuana legalization and drugs that may be affected by increased access to marijuana, such as opioids, synthetic cannabinoids, and other emerging drugs of abuse. Study findings will be of value to regulators and legislators seeking to establish the safest approach to new, retail marijuana markets.

Philip Lazarus (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
WSU Office of Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“The Overlapping Metabolism of Opioids and Cannabis: Potential Consequences for Toxicity and Withdrawal among Opioids Users”
The goal of this study is to determine whether any drug-drug interactions may be occurring in users of both opioids and cannabis. As part of the study, the researcher will thoroughly investigate how cannabinoids—including THC and CBD and their metabolites—are metabolized in the liver. This knowledge will help scientists understand how cannabis fits into the public health crisis surrounding opioid overdose and opioid use disorder. It will also provide a baseline understanding of how cannabis is metabolized, and how those active metabolites are influencing liver function in patients currently taking opioids.

Michael McDonell (PI); Matthew Layton – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
Puyallup Tribe
“Qwibil Evaluation Project”
The Qwibil Evaluation Project establishes a collaboration between WSU and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians focused on developing a research and quality improvement infrastructure that will allow the Tribe to evaluate whether medicinal cannabis is associated with reduced opioid use and pain and improved physical and mental health in those who receive care at the Qwibil clinic. WSU will help the Tribe develop a cannabis-focused learning health system based on a patient registry that will allow providers to enter and track important patient outcomes and conduct program evaluation, quality improvement and research projects focused on how cannabis can be used to improve health.

Sterling McPherson (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
US Department of Veterans Affairs/Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center
“Chronic pain management and patient-centered outcomes following discontinuation of long-term opioid therapy”
This subaward allows Sterling McPherson to contribute statistical expertise and data analysis to a study being conducted at the  Portland VA Medical Center. The study will follow a cohort of 1,144 VA patients who are being prescribed long-term opioid therapy for a period of two years. The goal of the study is to learn about patients’ experiences with the opioid discontinuation process; alternate pain management strategies patients use after discontinuation—either through VA or non-VA resources; and patient-centered outcomes such as quality of life, pain, substance use, and mental health symptom severity following discontinuation. Patients will be surveyed periodically to assess quality of life, pain, substance use, and mental health symptoms; those who discontinue opioid therapy will complete an additional assessment and may be invited to participate in a qualitative interview. The study will help inform best practices for discontinuing opioid therapy, when clinically indicated, while simultaneously mitigating negative consequences of discontinuation and engaging and empowering patients to manage chronic pain with evidence-based non-opioid treatment options.

James Mohr (PI) – WSU Health Sciences Spokane, Office of Student Affairs
Washington Student Achievement Council
“Suicide Prevention”
This award provides funding for WSU Health Sciences Spokane to expand suicide prevention efforts on the Spokane campus and at the Yakima location. Expanded services will include enhanced treatment options for veterans, LGBTQ students, Native American/Alaska Native students, international students, and others disproportionately affected by suicide; suicide prevention and mental health first aid training for faculty and staff; culturally competent outreach to communities disproportionately impacted by suicide; and  comprehensive assessment and evaluation procedures.

Elizabeth Wood (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Dept. of Health Policy & Administration
WSU Office of Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“A MAT Map for Washington State: Supporting Diffusion of Locally Appropriate, Evidence-Based Policy and Practice”
The availability and use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder is below needed capacity and varies widely within Washington State. Access is also limited by the fact that it is difficult to consistently implement many evidence-based practices in Washington, given provider shortages. The goal of this project is to create a free, easy-to-use, and centralized resource for up-to-date statistics about MAT availability and usage. This resource will help providers and policymakers in Washington choose locally appropriate, evidence-based policies based on specific and current information about their community’s needs, as well as offer baseline statistics and preliminary findings for more in-depth research on opioid MAT in Washington State.

Boyang Wu (PI); Lucia Peixoto; Philip Lazarus – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute
“MAOA and AR Reciprocal Crosstalk in Prostate Cancer”
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. One in seven American men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. The primary driver of prostate cancer growth is androgen receptor, which regulates male hormones such as testosterone. The main treatment for prostate cancer currently consists of androgen deprivation therapy, which reduces testosterone to very low levels. In more than 90 percent of cases, prostate cancer initially responds to this therapy, but it will eventually relapse and progress into what is known as fatal castrate-resistant prostate cancer, which grows despite low testosterone levels. This study will look at a new molecular target for treating advanced prostate cancer: monoamine oxidase A (MAOA). The researchers have identified a reciprocal relationship between MAOA and androgen receptor in prostate cancer cells. Based on their findings, they will determine the molecular mechanism by which MAOA and androgen receptor interact in prostate cancer cells; characterize the role of MAOA in the development and progression of castrate-resistant prostate cancer; and determine the efficacy of MAOA inhibitor drugs for treating castrate-resistant prostate cancer and reversing cancer cell resistance to the latest generation of antiandrogen drugs. The study will provide new insights and may provide a basis for developing new combination therapeutic strategies for advanced prostate cancer.


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

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 award provides continued funding for the 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.

Chris Blodgett (PI) – WSU Extension, Child and Family Research Unit
Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery
“Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery CLEAR Phase 2”
This grant provides renewal funding for the Child and Family Research Unit (CAFRU)’s assistance with the implementation of the CLEAR trauma-informed school response model in the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, a facility that helps parents who are having difficulty providing safe shelter and care for their children. The CLEAR (Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience) model was developed by CAFRU to help schools deal with the effects of childhood trauma on children who are directly affected by it. Implementation of the program includes on‐site monthly consultations and professional development trainings.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Ka’imi Sinclair; Clemma Muller; Robert Rosenman; Amanda Boyd; Amber Fyfe-Johnson – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health/Murrow College of Communication/School of Economic Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“Native-Controlling Hypertension and Risk through Technology (Native-CHART)”
This is continued funding for a five-year grant to establish—in partnership with the University of Colorado Denver—a new collaborative research center aimed at reducing health risks related to high blood pressure in U.S. Native populations. The center will draw in expertise and solicit input from community organizations, tribes, and researchers across the country to pursue intervention studies that will use technologies, including electronic medical records, text messaging, wearable physical activity monitors, and home blood pressure monitors.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Clemma Muller – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health
University of Colorado at Denver/National Institutes of Health
“Native Elder Research Center”
Native elders are at greater risk for numerous acute as well as chronic illnesses, have less access to needed care, and are slower to seek care, leading to complications. This grant provides renewal funding for WSU’s efforts to collaborate with the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD) to close these gaps and increase the participation of Native people in related research through UCD’s Native Elder Research Center.

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 supplemental 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.

John Clarke (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
“Microcystin-LR Toxicity in Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis”
This is continued funding for a project that will help improve the scientific understanding of the interaction between liver disease and exposure to toxic substances in the environment. Specifically, it will seek to understand how the liver disease nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) alters the toxicokinetics and toxicity of the waterborne toxin microcystin‐LR (MCLR). NASH—the most severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease—is estimated to be present in 5 to 17 percent of U.S. adults. In addition to the liver problems these patients face, they also have higher rates of chronic kidney disease, which may be associated with exposure to MCLR. MCLR is a common toxin produced by blue-green algae found in sources of drinking water around the world. Preliminary studies conducted by Clarke showed that MCLR exposure in NASH dramatically increases kidney toxicity compared to healthy controls exposed to MCLR. This new study tests the hypothesis, based on the earlier work, that people with NASH are at increased risk of altered MCLR exposure and MCLR‐induced kidney toxicity due to changes in liver uptake transporters known as organic anion transporting polypeptides (OATP).

Devon Hansen (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep & Performance Research Center
Institute for Translational Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health
“Naturalistic Monitoring and Treatment for Insomnia”
This is continued funding for a study that will test the effectiveness of a novel sleep tracking system in individuals with chronic insomnia (those whose sleep is disrupted at least three nights a week for more than three months). The technology consists of a non-contact sensor that sits next to a sleeper’s bed and measures timing quantity, and quality of sleep. It pairs with a smartphone app that shows users details on their sleep and uses built-in coaching functionality to provide individualized suggestions for improving sleep. The study will compare the effectiveness of the technology’s built-in coaching functionality at treating insomnia, comparing it to participation in an online program for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, the current standard of treatment for chronic insomnia.

Lois James (PI); Patricia Butterfield; Steve James; Kevin Stevens; Marian Wilson – College of Nursing/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep & Performance Research Center
US Department of Health & Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
“The Impact of Shift-accumulated Fatigue on Patient Care and Risk of Post-shift Driving Collisions among 12-hour Day and Night Shift Nurses”
This award provides funding to continue a study to determine the impact of fatigue in nurses resulting from 12-hour shifts, both on patient care and on the post-shift drive home. The study will include 50 nurses who work 12-hour day shifts and 50 nurses who work 12-hour night shifts. Nurse participants will be outfitted with wrist activity monitors and other tracking technology to measure levels of fatigue and their impact. They will complete a battery of performance tests on two separate occasions: immediately following their third consecutive 12-hour shift and again on their third consecutive day off work. The test battery includes a computer-based reaction time task that objectively measures fatigue; critical skills testing in the nursing simulation lab; and a 20-minute drive using a driving simulator. Study outcomes may be used to provide recommendations on safe shift-scheduling for day- and night shift nurses.

Kimberly McKeirnan (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences/College of Nursing
Empire Health Foundation
“Medication Optimization”
This is supplemental funding for a project in which WSU is partnering with Better Health Together and the Alliance for Integrated Medication Management to develop, implement, and evaluate a prototype medication delivery system to serve patients with chronic disease in seven counties in eastern Washington. The partner organizations have worked with primary care providers, pharmacies, and community partners in the counties to develop the system, which offers integrated medication management and medication optimization and has the potential to improve patient outcomes, increase access to care, and decrease costs. This round of funding funds a series of new initiatives that includes creating a pharmacy steering committee; hosting an event to discuss implementation, challenges, and marketing; dissemination of information through scholarly papers; and training and supporting additional pharmacists who are interested in implementing comprehensive medication management.

Sterling McPherson (PI); Matthew Layton – Elson. S. Floyd College of Medicine
Ringful Health/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Drug Abuse
“A Shared Decision Making Tool to Prevent Substance Abuse”
This subaward renews WSU’s assistance to a project conducted by Ringful Health. With funding from a Small Business Innovation Research grant awarded by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, Ringful Health is developing and testing a mobile‐based, shared decision making tool to prevent substance abuse. The tool will engage patients and clinicians in a primary care setting and is designed to increase the proportion of patients who are successfully linked to and receive indicated follow‐up specialty substance‐use‐disorders care.

Lonnie Nelson (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Clemma Muller; Astrid Suchy-Dicey; Cara Carty – College of Nursing/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of Colorado Denver/National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“American Indian and Alaska Native Health Disparities”
This is renewal funding for a subaward of a project to establish the Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Health Disparities, a partnership between the University of Colorado Denver, WSU, and the Southcentral Foundation. It provides funding for WSU investigators to help manage the center’s overall efforts, engage in community engagement with American Indian and Alaskan Native partners in the region, and disseminate research findings. In addition, it funds WSU’s role in two research projects: one using data from the Strong Heart Study and Cerebrovascular Disease and its Consequences in American Indians study to evaluate associations between cognitive function and Alzheimer’s disease risk factors and biomarkers in American Indians; and the other, to be conducted in partnership with the University of Arizona, to create culturally tailored materials on Alzheimer’s disease and precision medicine for American Indians and Alaska Natives enrolled in the All of Us Research Program. The All of Us Research Program is an NIH-funded program to improve treatment and prevention strategies based on people’s individual differences in lifestyle, environment, and genetics.

Barbara Richardson (PI); Marian Wilson; Brenda Bray; Connie Remsberg – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Washington State Department of Health
“Richardson Washington Department of Health Interprofessional Chronic Pain Management and Opioid Addiction Curriculum development”
This is renewal funding for the development of a new interprofessional curriculum on chronic pain management and opioid addiction appropriate for use with students in a variety of health professions programs, such as nursing, pharmacy, medicine, and social work. An interdisciplinary faculty team led by Barb Richardson is designing the two-hour interactive curriculum, which will include case studies that can be used with standardized patients or online with video scenarios. Standardized patients will be hired and trained to portray the patients with chronic pain and potential opioid addiction described in the case studies.

Ka’imi Sinclair (PI); Amber Fyfe-Johnson – College of Nursing/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of Colorado Denver/National Institutes of Health
“Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Diabetes Translation Research (CDTR) – Research”
This is continued funding for a subaward to establish a Pacific Northwest satellite center of the Center for American Indian and Alaska Native Diabetes Translation Research, which is based at the University of Colorado Denver. The goal of the main center is to improve the diabetes-related health of American Indian and Alaska Native people by extending prevention and management research of proven efficacy to both clinical and community settings in American Indian/Alaska Native communities. The Pacific Northwest satellite center will engage local tribes in activities aimed at increasing awareness related to diabetes translational research among American Indians and Alaska Natives; organize and sponsor annual regional conferences about diabetes translational research among American Indian and Alaska Native populations; and develop a regional plan for disseminating the work and research findings of the center.

Astrid Suchy-Dicey (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Lonnie Nelson –Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health
National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging
“Incident Vascular Brain Injury, Probable Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Change in Elderly American Indians”
This award continues funding for the analysis of data related to vascular brain injury and cognitive impairment in American Indians. The data is being collected as part of a follow-up study to the Cerebrovascular Disease and its Consequences in American Indians study, which examined 1,000 American Indians aged 64 to 95 years from 2010 to 2013. Participants from that study received clinical examinations, neuropsychological testing, and brain MRIs. A follow-up study was started in 2016 to re-examine surviving participants according to the same protocols, with the addition of assessments for probable Alzheimer’s disease. As part of this newly funded project, the research team will quantify and evaluate associations for incident vascular brain injury, neurodegeneration, and changes in cognitive status in this elderly minority population identified in the data. The grant also allows the principal investigator to complete career development activities that will position her as an independent investigator and leader in innovative neuroepidemiology research with minority populations.

Éva Szentirmai (PI); Weihang Chai; Levente Kapas; Kenneth Roberts – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center
National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
“Brown Adipose Tissue and Sleep Regulation”
This award represents continued funding for a study on how brown fat interacts with our brains to regulate sleep. Brown fat is a beneficial fat that helps burn the calories stored in white fat and regulates our body temperature. In previous studies, decreased brown fat activity was associated with less sleep and less deep sleep. This work could open the door to new drugs to combat obesity, metabolic syndrome, and chronic sleep loss.

Jonathan Wisor (PI); Barbara Sorg Ingermann – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; WSU Vancouver
National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“Sleep Deprivation Elevates, and Sleep Alleviates, Oxidative Stress in the Brain”
Sleep is essential for the reversal of deficits in cognition and performance that build up during wakefulness. Scientists have known that brain metabolism slows down during sleep, which is shown by a decline in brain temperature and the brain’s decreased use of glucose and oxygen. It is believed that this metabolic down state is essential for the restorative function of sleep, but scientists are not sure what biochemical processes underlie this relationship. This award continues funding for a project that will seek to establish a causal relationship between sleep/wake cycles and brain redox status—the balance of oxidation and reduction reactions in the brain—and will identify brain oxidation/reduction reactions that could be targeted for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders.