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Grant and Contract Awards

FY2020, 4th Quarter Summary
(April 1 – June 30, 2020)

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)

Salah-Uddin Ahmed (PI); Paul Panipinto – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Rheumatology Research Foundation
“The Role of Guanylate Binding Proteins in Gout Etiology”
This awards funds a preceptorship that allows graduate pharmaceutical sciences student Paul Panipinto to conduct research on gout—an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, deformity, and pain—under the guidance of professor of pharmaceutical sciences Salah-Uddin Ahmed. Panipinto will be looking specifically at guanylate binding proteins (GBPs), a family of proteins that mediates interferon-gamma, a cytokine protein that is thought to maintain immunity and play a critical role in gout. The goal of the preceptorship is to develop the needed skills to elucidate the role of GBPs in gout and other related autoimmune diseases and to discover their mechanism of action.

Naomi Bender (co-PI); Leila Harrison (co-PI) – WSU Health Sciences Spokane; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Oregon Health Sciences University/Indian Health Service
“INMED RISE: Reimagine IndianS into MedicinE”
This grant provides five years of funding for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s INMED RISE: Reimagine IndianS into MedicinE program, which offers access, mentoring, and exposure to American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students interested in health professions. It funds two major program activities: (1) the RISE Summer Academy at WSU Health Sciences Spokane, which is targeted to college-level AI/AN students interested in attending health professions graduate and doctoral-level programs in medicine, pharmacy, speech and hearing sciences, and nutrition and exercise physiology; (2) the WSU expansion of the Wy’East post-baccalaureate program based in Portland, Oregon. The College of Medicine will select up to four students to participate in the Wy’East program, offering them conditional acceptance upon successful completion.

Ekaterina Burduli (PI) – College of Nursing
National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse
“Effective Caregiving for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Development of an Instructional Mobile Technology Platform for High-Risk Pregnant Women”
This NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award funds a study that will address the lack of interventions to prepare pregnant opioid-addicted women for the challenges of caring for a newborn at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). It will involve adaptation of an existing mobile NAS tool for clinician training and decision support to high-risk pregnant women, based on the recommendations on the management of NAS by neonatology experts, NAS care providers, and mothers with NAS-affected babies gathered through a series of interviews. The researchers will then test the usability, acceptability, and feasibility of the adapted mobile tool via surveys with 10 pregnant women receiving opioid agonist therapy (OAT) at Spokane Regional Health District’s Opioid Treatment Program and Evergreen Recovery Center. Finally, they will conduct a randomized controlled trial in which 30 high-risk pregnant women seen at these facilities will receive either the adapted mobile NAS caregiving tool or usual care. Outcomes compared between the two groups include maternal drug relapse and OAT continuation, maternal-newborn bonding, length of newborn hospital stays, and readmissions rates, breastfeeding initiation and duration, and postpartum depression and anxiety at 4, 8, and 12 weeks postpartum. Findings will serve as pilot data for a larger trial to test the efficacy of the adapted NAS caregiving tool at reducing poor outcomes in NAS-affected newborns and their mothers.

Daryll DeWald (PI) – WSU Health Sciences Spokane
Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
“Steve Gleason Smart Kitchen Build out”
This grant provides funds for a new smart kitchen that will allow patients with neurodegenerative diseases and their caregivers to learn how to maintain independence when it comes to food preparation. The smart kitchen will be constructed at the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience’s Adaptive Technology and Smart Home Center located at 325 E Sprague Avenue in Spokane, which will provide a location for patients and their families to gain knowledge, insight, and additional support with adaptive technologies and smart home configurations. This project will help patients and their families to continue finding purpose, improve quality of life, and lessen caregiver stress and fatigue.

Marcos Frank (PI); Chris Hayworth – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“Astroglial mechanisms in sleep homeostasis”
Common sleep problems such as excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia may be caused in part by changes in sleep homeostasis, the process that increases sleep drive, sleep amounts, and sleep intensity based on prior time awake. This grant-funded project builds on a previous discovery by the researchers that this process involves a type of brain cells known as glial astrocytes, even though the cellular mechanisms sleep homeostasis had been thought to be neuronal before then. The goal of this study is to test the researchers’ hypothesis that sleep homeostasis arises from interactions between astrocytes and neurons and that sleep loss drives intracellular and molecular changes in astrocytes. The work will provide new insight into the processes that drive abnormal sleep and could eventually lead to the development of new therapeutics that target glia to combat excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia, as well as attention, learning, and memory problems associated with sleep loss.

David Jenson (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
WSU Office of Research
Physiologic markers of sensorimotor processing in stuttering and autism
This is a new faculty seed grant for a study to determine to what extent the brain’s cortex and subcortex regions contribute to sensorimotor processing in people who stutter, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and a group of normal controls. The study will look at EEG mu rhythms and pupillometry—the measurement of pupil size and reactivity—to identify objective, disorder-specific markers characterizing the core neural impairments in people who stutter and those with ASD.

Patrik Johansson (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
Wabanaki Public Health
“Wabanaki Surveillance Project”
This grant provides funding for WSU to conduct planning processes to create a data surveillance system for data related to adult and youth substance use, mental health, and suicide in tribal communities in Maine. The team will work with Wabanaki Public Health data staff to assess currently available datasets; review data collection policies and data sharing agreements; establish tribally informed IRB procedures for data requests; and identify current data sources for accurate and reliable data. WSU will also create an implementation plan to implement the designed surveillance system in Fall 2020.

Patrik Johansson (PI); Clemma Muller – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
Wabanaki Public Health
“Wabanaki Needs Assessment Project”
This grant provides funds for WSU to assist Wabanaki Public Health with the planning, design, and implementation of a needs assessment survey in tribal communities in Maine. The team will also analyze survey data and report findings back to the community.

Anjali Kumar (PI); Ryan De Leon – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons
“Does the SAGES research agenda in gastrointestinal and endoscopic surgery resonate with rural surgeons?”
This funding helps to create a consortium of general surgeons who operate at critical access hospitals in Washington State who can mentor and/or provide advice to medical students on rural surgery careers. In addition, the funds will be used to lay the groundwork for a study on rural surgeon’s research priorities in minimally invasive and endoscopic surgery.

Julie Postma (PI); Von Walden; Tamara Odom-Maryon; Patricia Butterfield; Solmaz Amiri – College of Nursing; Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
“Promoting risk reduction among young adults with asthma during wildfire smoke events”
This study examines the feasibility of using two interventions—Smoke Sense and Smoke Sense Plus—at reducing risk and improving health outcomes among young adults with asthma during wildfire smoke events. It will also pilot test the interventions compared to a control group. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, Smoke Sense is a smartphone application designed as an innovative risk reduction intervention. The app invites users to record their smoke observations and health symptoms, play educational trivia games, earn badges, and explore what other users are reporting. By connecting air quality exposure data with users’ symptoms, the app has the ability to personalize risk-reduction messages. The Smoke Sense Plus intervention builds on the Smoke Sense app through value-added activities, such as notifying participants to review their asthma action plan, monitoring lung function weekly via mobile spirometry, and subscribing to a social network to share strategies to minimize exposure. The long-term goal of the study is to minimize asthma exacerbations from exposure to wildfire smoke.

Ken Roberts (PI); Jessica Gerdes – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Discuren Charitable Foundation
“7th-9th grade mentoring program in rural Stevens County”
This project involves the development and implementation of a career awareness and mentorship program focused on health sciences careers for 7th- through 9th-grade students in Stevens County. Stevens County is medically underserved and has less than half the number of physicians needed to meet the needs of the population. This new program is designed to improve access to care in Stevens County by increasing the number of students who are ready to move forward in health sciences careers. The program will provide an opportunity for students interested in health care careers to gain an understanding of healthcare fields through hands-on experiences and career-connected learning. The program will also emphasize the development of key personal attributes in students including leadership skills, interpersonal skills, resilience, teamwork, and collaboration.

Jean-Baptiste Roullet (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Neurological Disorders and Stroke
“2020 International Scientific conference on succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (SSADHD)”
This grant provides funding for the organization of an international scientific conference to discuss the most recent research advances in succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (SSADHD), a rare genetic disease affecting 200 to 300 individuals worldwide. The conference was held July 9-10 as a virtual event.

Szentirmai, Eva (PI); Levente Kapas – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
“Novel mechanism in microbiota-brain communication: the role of the hepatoportal region”
This new study seeks to unravel novel mechanisms by which the brain aligns sleep-wake activity with metabolic, nutritional, and immune activity. The long-term objective is to identify mechanisms by which micro-organisms in the intestines communicate with the brain and their relevance to sleep regulation. Changes in the composition of these micro-organisms, as well as increased translocation of microbial products to the systemic circulation, are related to diseases such as central nervous system disorders. Identifying the role of bacterial products in sleep regulation is important because the gut flora is susceptible to changes in diet, environment, food additives and antibiotic treatment, which could lead to altered sleep. At the same time, the intestinal micro-organisms could also provide an easily accessible target for translational research to improve sleep.

Hans Van Dongen (PI); Paul Whitney; John Hinson; Kimberly Honn – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep & Performance Research Center; College of Arts & Sciences
US Department of Defense, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program
“Resilience to Sleep Loss and Stress: A Framework for Investigation and Intervention”
Sleep deprivation negatively affects situational awareness and decision making in military operations. This new grant-funded project looks at the effects of sleep deprivation and acute stress, both separately and jointly, on attentional control and decision-making that involves risk taking under dynamically changing conditions. It builds on an earlier study that found that one of the critical elements of performance that is impaired by sleep deficiency is cognitive flexibility, which is central to tracking dynamic changes in circumstances over time and is distinct from vigilant attention. The project includes a laboratory-based research study that will help establish a foundational framework for the investigation of resilience to sleep loss and stress and guide the search for strategies that could help mitigate the combined effects of stress and sleep deprivation.

Natsuko Wood (PI) – College of Nursing
Association of Community Health Nurse Educators
“Psychometric Validation Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Breastfeeding Relationship Scale”
This grant provides funding to validate and further develop the Breastfeeding Relationship Scale, a tool designed by the researchers to improve the assessment of altered breastfeeding relationships between mother and infant due to perceived insufficient milk. As part of this work, the researchers will conduct a cross-sectional study of 200 breastfeeding mothers within 1 to 12 weeks of delivery and who breastfeed a single, full-term infant, who will be asked to complete the Breastfeeding Relationship Scale online.


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

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Amanda Boyd – 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); Luciana Hebert – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of Colorado at Denver/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging
“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.

Dedra Buchwald (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
“WSU Urologic Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes Discovery Center”
This is a continuation award for a discovery center to study the underlying causes of urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes. The center collaborates in the Multi-Disciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain (MAPP) Research Network. The goal of the center is to conduct multidisciplinary, multi-site, basic, translation, and clinical research on urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes.

Naomi Chaytor (PI); Hans Van Dongen; Michael Cleveland – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resource Sciences
McLean Hospital/National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
“Glycemic variability and fluctuations in cognitive status in adults with T1D”
Adults with type 1 diabetes have poorer cognitive performance than those without diabetes. Studies have shown that cognitive status is sensitive to short-term glycemic changes—changes in blood glucose levels—and that these effects differ across individuals. These short-term effects of glycemic variations on cognition are poorly understood, which may be adversely impacting everyday functioning, diabetes self-management and/or brain function. The goal of this continuing study is to determine if glycemic variability is associated with fluctuations in cognitive status within individuals; determine if stress, mood, and fatigue mediates the relationship between blood glucose levels and cognitive status; and determine if diabetes-related factors influence the association between blood glucose levels and cognitive status. The ultimate goal is to help adults with type 1 diabetes better track their cognitive status and maximize their day-to-day cognition, functional status, and quality of life.

Amber Fyfe-Johnson (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
Storer Fund at The Miami Foundation,
“Health Outcomes in Preschool: INnovations for Obesity Prevention (HOP-IN)”
This award provides supplemental funding to pay for a research assistant assigned to an NIH-funded project to evaluate the impact of an outdoor preschool model on health outcomes and academic achievement in early childhood. The Health Outcomes in Preschool: INnovations for Obesity Prevention (HOP-IN) will partner with Tiny Trees, a preschool in Seattle, Washington, with an entirely outdoor, play-based curriculum. The study will collect data on the physical activity, sleep, body mass index, gut microbiome, and academic performance of 200 children ages 3 to 5 for a period of five years. This includes 100 children attending Tiny Trees and a control group of 100 waitlisted children who are currently attending a traditional indoor preschool. The researchers will compare various outcomes between the two groups and will also perform a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the longer-term sustainability of the Tiny Trees outdoor preschool model.

Michael Gibson (PI); Jean-Baptiste Roullet – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Eye Institute
“Rapalog Therapy in Heritable and Vigabatrin-Induced GBA Metabolic Disorders – Supplement”
This is continued funding for a four-year study that follows up on a discovery by the principal investigator that there is a relationship between increased GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid—the primary central inhibitory neurotransmitter) and abnormal mTOR signaling. The mTOR protein is key for controlling autophagy, a normal physiological process that deals with the destruction of cells in the body. As part of this work, it was found that rapalogs—a class of anticancer drugs that inhibit mTOR—could be used to override the negative effects associated with increases in GABA, which include toxicity to the eye. This study will test, in a mouse model, the hypothesis that autophagic pathways involving GABA and mTOR can be mitigated with rapalog medications and assess the effectiveness of those drugs at mitigating ocular toxicity. If their hypothesis holds up, this work could have implications for patients who have heritable disorders of the GABA metabolism—such as succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (SSADHD)—or experience elevated levels of GABA resulting from the use of the antiepileptic drug Vigabatrin, which inhibits the breakdown of GABA.

Michael Gibson (PI); Jean-Baptiste Roullet – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
“Natural History of Succinic Semialdehyde Dehydrogenase Deficiency (SSADHD), a Heritable Disorder of GABA Metabolism”
This award provides continuing funds for a natural history study of patients with succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH) deficiency, a rare inherited disorder that inhibits the breakdown of a neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and is associated with developmental delays and neurological problems. The study will follow 55 patients at Boston Children’s hospital and other sites around the world over a period of five years. Through yearly assessments of the patients, the researchers will determine the natural course of the clinical presentation of SSADH deficiency, using a novel clinical severity score to quantify the most prominent clinical features of the disease. They will also determine the natural evolution of known neurophysiological and biochemical abnormalities in SSADH—such as those related to brain volume, brain GABA concentration, brain myelination, cortical GABAergic function, and blood and urine levels of GABA and related metabolites. Finally, they will try to identify neurophysiological and biochemical predictors of clinical severity. The study will provide the information needed to better predict the natural course of SSADH deficiency and monitor the success of future therapeutics, as well as lay the foundation for the addition of SSADH deficiency screening to existing newborn screening panels.

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 an increase in funding for 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.

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 in treating in insomnia, comparing it to participation in an online program for cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, the current standard of treatment for chronic insomnia.

Kimberly Honn (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep & Performance Research Center
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
“Predicting heat strain in metal and nonmetal miners”
This contract provides funding for expert consulting services on a continuing study on heat strain in metal and nonmetal miners. The goal of the study is to evaluate the impact of heat exposure on cognitive functioning and whether physiologic parameters and personal risk factors can be used to predict declines in cognitive functioning. As part of the study, the researchers will perform cognitive tests on subjects when their core body temperatures reach certain thresholds. Honn will provide expert advice on cognitive test administration and analysis and interpretation of results, especially of an alertness test known as the psychomotor vigilance test. In addition, she will provide input on a research proposal being developed that would evaluate the feasibility of predicting cognitive effects of heat strain.

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 continuing 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.

Kimberly McKeirnan (PI); Kyle Frazier; Megan Undeberg – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Empire Health Foundation
“Medication Optimization”
This is renewal 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.

Lonnie Nelson (PI) – College of Nursing/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“Administrative Supplement to Caring Texts: A Strength‐Based, Suicide Prevention Trial in 4 Native Communities”
This funding continues a study of the effectiveness of the Caring Contacts approach as a way of reducing suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide-related hospitalizations among Native American young adults. A recent study has found that suicide rates for Native American young adults in the Northern Plains and Alaska are much higher than those for white Americans in the same regions. The Caring Contacts approach uses text messages expressing care, concern, and interest to supplement standard suicide prevention. In a randomized, controlled trial, this study will compare the use of the Caring Contacts approach as a supplement to usual suicide prevention care versus usual care only in at-risk Native American young adults over a 12-month period. This award continues funding for an administrative supplement that adds an extra follow-up assessment 6 months after participants complete their intervention.

Lonnie Nelson (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Clemma Muller – College of Nursing/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging
“URBAn Native Elders (URBANE): Risk and Protective Factors for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias”
This award funds a study of the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and their risk and protective factors in American Indian and Alaska Native people living in urban areas. This work is being conducted out of WSU Health Sciences’ Partnerships for Native Health research program, part of its Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH). Working with partner organizations, the study will recruit 1,200 men and women ages 55 and older from five geographically diverse metropolitan areas with large American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“The plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT): expression and role in mIBG disposition in neuroblastoma”
As part of this continuing subaward, the PI will assist with the development and application of novel bioanalytical methods based on liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry to quantify target proteins in neuroblastoma tissue. He will use a proteomics approach optimized in his laboratory to conduct this research.

Janet Purath (PI); Dawn DePriest; Louise Kaplan; Tracy Klein; Anne Mason, Tamara Odom-Maryon, Marian Wilson – College of Nursing
US Department of Health & Human Services; Health Resources & Services Administration
“Washington State University-Advanced Nursing practice for rural, underserved in Eastern Washington (WSU-ANEW)”
These funds continue a project aimed at building expanded capacity for training family nurse practitioners and psychiatric mental heal nurse practitioners to serve in rural and underserved areas in Eastern Washington. It builds on a partnership with the Community Health Association of Spokane that includes a joint appointment of a Nurse Practitioner Faculty in Residence. The program will provide traineeships to 39 full-time nurse practitioner students, who will complete longitudinal clinical training in clinics that provide care to underserved and rural populations in Eastern Washington. It will also provide an expanded preceptor education program, as well as a marketing program that connects graduates to primary care employment in rural and underserved areas. Finally, the project will take on the challenges of substance use disorders with educational strategies to improve student, graduate, and community providers’ knowledge and confidence in caring for persons with substance use disorders.

Zhenjia Wang (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Neutrophil-mediated Drug Delivery – Administrative Supplement for Equipment”
This is a funding increase 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. The increase helps fund an upgrade to the intravital microscope used by the principal investigator to conduct this study.

Jiyue Zhu (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, National Institute for General Medical Sciences
“Repression of the hTERT gene during cell differentiation”
This award continues a research study aimed at unraveling the mechanisms by which telomerase is regulated during development. Telomerase is an enzyme that lengthens telomeres in DNA strands, which allows cells to become immortal. It plays a key role in cell aging and tumor progression. This study will look at the gene that encodes a component of telomerase known as hTERT and how the gene is repressed during cell differentiation (the process by which a less specialized cell becomes a more specialized cell type). The goal of the study is to determine how telomere homeostasis contributes to human aging and the formation of tumors.