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

Grant and Contract Awards

FY2021, 3rd Quarter Summary
(January 1 – March 31, 2021)

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)

Ofer Amram (PI); Siny Tsang; Solmaz Amiri – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Oregon State University/National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
“COVID-19: Evaluating and Applying Google Timeline Location Data for Built Environment and Physical Activity Research”
This is a supplemental award that adds a new scope to an existing grant-funded project related to the built environment’s influence on health. This new award funds research that will examine how individual outdoor physical activity behaviors changed before and during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and to determine how outdoor physical activity and exposure to green space may protect against stress and acute mental health issues.  To do this, researchers will use detailed Google Timeline time-activity data collected passively through smartphones to assess environmental exposure over long periods of time while protecting the privacy of study participants. This data will be collected from a subset of 3,000 Washington State Twin Registry participants who completed a survey, during COVID-19, pertaining to changes in outdoor physical activity and mental health. The project will provide important new information to inform future stay-at-home policies and park/public space closures, as well as the role of outdoor physical activity and exposure to natural environments in reducing the harmful effects of acute stress and mental health issues.

Naomi Chaytor (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
McLean Hospital/National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
“Plasma ADRD biomarkers and cognitive variability in adults with T1D”
Adults with type 1 diabetes are at increased risk for cognitive impairment, accelerated brain aging, and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD). Greater variability in cognitive performance within the same individual is a sensitive early marker of mild cognitive impairment and ADRD. In individuals with type 1 diabetes, this variability may be impacted by short-term fluctuations in blood sugar and/or long-term neuronal damage resulting from high blood sugar levels and extremely low blood sugar levels. This study will determine whether Alzheimer’s Disease biomarkers detected in blood plasma are associated with greater cognitive variability in 200 middle aged and older adults with type 1 diabetes and whether blood sugar levels factor play a role in this variability.

Zhaokang Cheng (PI); Boyang Wu – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
“Cell cycle proteins as key regulators of cardiac chemosensitivity”
Anthracycline-based chemotherapy, an effective treatment for many types of cancer, has long been associated with substantial toxicity to the heart. The anthracycline drug doxorubicin induces DNA damage and subsequent heart cell death, which eventually results in cardiomyopathy and heart failure. Previous research led by the principal investigator of this award has identified cyclin-dependent kinase 2 (CDK2) as a key player in heart toxicity resulting from treatment with anthracycline drugs and suggested that cardiac CDK2 activity determines how sensitive the heart is to chemotherapy. This award funds a study to determine the role of two cell cycle proteins known to control CDK2 activity—CDK7 and RBL2—in heart cell death and cardiac chemosensitivity. This research could help lay the foundation for developing new strategies to protect the heart during cancer treatment.

John Clarke (PI); Bhagwat Prasad – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
“Mechanisms of microcystin-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis”
This new grant builds off of data from a previous NIH-funded project that showed that microcystin-LR—a toxin produced by blue-green algae commonly found in in lakes and other freshwater bodies—can drive the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to a more severe form. In this new project, the researcher will try to unravel the underlying mechanisms that change the disease progression in response to microcystin-LR exposure and determine their impact on the development of liver cirrhosis and a form of liver cancer known as hepatocellular carcinoma. Outcomes from this research have the potential to impact millions of people worldwide who are exposed to microcystin-LR through oral consumption and/or recreation.

Daryll DeWald (PI) – WSU Health Sciences Spokane
Spokane County
“COVID-19: CARES: Reimbursement of costs related to COVID-19 from Spokane County”
This award provides funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to reimburse WSU Health Sciences Spokane for costs incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

David H. Garcia (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dept. of Migrant Education
“WSU Spokane Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy”
As part of this project. WSU Health Sciences Spokane will select 40 high-achieving migrant students from school districts in central and eastern Washington to attend the virtual Dare to Dream Health Sciences Academy on the WSU Spokane campus, which has been tentatively scheduled for late June to early July. The academy will help these students 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.

Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom (PI) – WSU Extension Youth & Families
National 4-H Council/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
“Make the Best Better: Creating a More Inclusive 4-H”
This grant provides funding for the WSU Extension Youth and Families team to develop training that offers practical guidance to make 4-H youth development clubs more inclusive in terms of race and ethnicity. The training will build on the core values of 4-H, and prepare 4-Hers to have compassionate, intelligent conversations about race and ethnicity. Once developed, the training will be pilot tested in the local 4-H club in Spokane County before being offered to 4-H staff throughout the state. The ultimate goal is to cultivate a welcoming environment across racial and ethnic differences so that all youth in Washington feel they belong in their local 4-H club.

Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom (PI) – WSU Extension Youth & Families
Spokane Regional Health District/US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services
“SNAP-Ed FY21-23 Region 1 Spokane County”
This award funds Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) programming in Spokane County. SNAP-Ed is a federal program funded through the Farm Bill that supports evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention in individuals and families eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance. WSU staff deliver SNAP-Ed through local county extension offices. Goals include improving dietary quality, food resource management, and physical activity in low-income individuals, families, and youth.

Doreen Hauser-Lindstrom (PI) – WSU Extension Youth & Families
Washington State Department of Health/US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services
“SNAP-Ed FY21-23 Region 2 Benton, Franklin, Walla Walla, and Yakima Counties; Region 4 King County; Region 5 Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, and Thurston Counties”
This is a series of award that fund Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) programming in various counties in Washington State. SNAP-Ed is a federal program funded through the Farm Bill that supports evidence-based nutrition education and obesity prevention in individuals and families eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) assistance. WSU staff deliver SNAP-Ed through local county extension offices. Goals include improving dietary quality, food resource management, and physical activity in low-income individuals, families, and youth.

Katherine Hirchak (PI); Amiri Solmaz – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of California San Francisco/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Drug Abuse
“Assessing Fatal and Non-Fatal Opioid Overdoses and Access to Treatment among American Indian Adults in the Southwest, Pilot Project”
This is a subaward for a study led by the University of California San Francisco that examines facilitators and barriers to providing medication-assisted treatment among providers serving American Indians and Alaska Natives, as well as determining the impact of access to treatment on fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose among tribal communities in New Mexico. As part of this subproject, the WSU investigators will assess unique risk and protective factors that may affect access to medication-assisted treatment and the impact this may have on fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose rates among Tribal members in New Mexico. They will do this by analyzing Tribal geocoded vital statistics/syndromic surveillance data of fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose and geocoded MAT provider data in New Mexico.

Katherine Hirchak (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of New Mexico/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Drug Abuse
COVID-19: New Mexico Clinical Trials Node: Clinical research and practice to address substance use in diverse, rural and underserved populations”
This subaward provides funds for the investigator to contribute to research that examines the impact of COVID-19 on substance use and access to medication opioid use disorder treatment among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) adults and providers serving Native communities.

Thomas May (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham/National Institutes of Health; National Human Genome Research Institute
“Integrating Genomic Risk Assessment for Disease Management in a Diverse Population”
This subaward provides funds for the investigator, Thomas May, to contribute to a research project that aims to predict the occurrence and progression of 15 common chronic diseases through polygenic risk scores. As part of this study, May will conduct a pilot ethical legal social implications study to explore patient perspectives on the use of family health history and genetic testing. He will also lead engagement efforts to identify factors that promote the trust necessary for optimizing enrollment of minority participants in the study. Findings from the ethical legal social implications study will inform the development of consent and educational materials for the study, as well as a communication strategy to enhance recruitment and retention of participants. This research project is the vital first step to leverage the power of genomics to prevent disease by implementing genomic risk assessments into clinical care to identify, and if appropriate, pretreat at-risk patients.

Sterling McPherson (PI); Crystal Lederhos Smith; Glen Duncan – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
WSU Office of Research/Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“Genetic and environmental influences on the relationships between smoking and cannabis co-use and smoking and alcohol co-use and their association with chronic pain: a twin study”
The use of two or more substances at the same time can multiply health risks that have been linked to individual substances, contributing to increases in illness, deaths, and healthcare costs. This is true for the co-use of alcohol and tobacco, as well as for cannabis and tobacco. However, there have been few studies on how co-use of substances affects chronic pain. This study will use twins enrolled in the Washington State Twin Registry to better understand the role of genetic, shared, and unique environmental influences on the associations between the co-use of alcohol and tobacco and cannabis and tobacco with chronic pain. Ultimately, this information may influence prevention and intervention planning by providing information on relationships that are most heavily influenced by environment and therefore may be the most effective targets for intervention.

Cassandra Nikolaus (PI); Ka’imi Sinclair – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/Community Health
Institute of Translational Health Sciences/National Institutes of Health
“Characterizing the ‘real-world’ implementation of food security screening in healthcare settings”
Prevalence of food insecurity—or insufficient access to nutritious food—has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting an estimated 54 million U.S. households. Food insecurity comes with a range of negative consequences that can include chronic disease development, poor disease self-management, diminished mental health, greater healthcare costs, and increased death rates. Screening for food insecurity during well check visits allows healthcare providers to refer food insecure patients to assistance programs and is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Diabetes Association. However, in a 2017 survey only 30 to 40% of healthcare facilities reported screening for food insecurity. The goal of this study is to systematically characterize the implementation of food insecurity screening in healthcare settings. It will use multilevel data on sites, providers, patients, and visits from an audit of electronic health records in a national network of 600+ community health centers to characterize variability in implementation. In addition, the investigator will conduct semi-structured interviews with healthcare stakeholders to identify barriers and facilitators to screening implementation. In addition to improving researchers’ understanding of food insecurity screening in healthcare settings, this study will provide career development and mentorship resources to the investigator to facilitate her transition to independent research. Findings from the study will be used as the basis for a future NIH grant application related to improving food insecurity screening implementation in primary care settings.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
“Proteomics characterization of recombinant UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) for in vitro to in vivo extrapolation of drug metabolic clearance in human”
One crucial challenge in drug development is the poor in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) of how UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes metabolize drugs. In vitro tools often underpredict the metabolic clearance of new chemical entities. What is more, current commercial recombinant UGT proteins show poor translatability to UGT enzyme activity in humans. As part of this project, WSU researchers will develop a new proteomics-informed drug clearance prediction approach for acetaminophen, diclofenac, and two Novartis compounds.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
WSU Office of Commercialization
“Development of a Dry Blood Spot Assay Kit for Quantification of Carboxylated Proteins:”
Funded by a commercialization gap fund award, this research will develop a sensitive assay using dry-blood spot coupled with mass spectrometry for simultaneous quantification of gramma-glutamyl carboxylated proteins in a drop of blood. The quantification of the carboxylated proteins is important for ensuring the safety of anti-coagulant therapy and for the diagnosis of vitamin K-dependent diseases, such as liver cancers and COVID-19-associated coagulopathy.

Ken Roberts (PI); David Conley; Kristin Courtney – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Washington State Employment Security Department, Career Connect Washington
“Stevens County Mentoring Program”
Students in rural communities often do not envision themselves training in, and subsequently working in, healthcare or health science professions. The lack of role models and mentors is at least part of the reason. This project will extend a currently implemented mentoring program that was designed to reach 7th through 9th grade students to include curriculum in the 10th grade year that will further promote readiness for college and stimulate interest in health science careers. The researchers will measure the effectiveness of the program by surveying the participating students to determine their evolving interest in health sciences and by following their progress into health science careers after finishing high school.

Ka’imi Sinclair (PI); Eric Lofgren; Dedra Buchwald; Clemma Muller – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health; School for Global Animal Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“COVID-19: Marshallese: Alternate Surveillance for COVID-19 in a Unique Population”
Marshallese Pacific Islanders bear a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death, with rates up to 25 times higher than those of other US racial and ethnic groups in the continental United States. Marshallese represent just 1% of the population in Spokane County, Washington, but were nearly 30% of COVID-19 cases between March and May 2020. Social determinants of health have powerful influences on community and individual risks for COVID-19. Culturally, the Marshallese community is extremely tight-knit, self-contained, and highly clustered; they often live in multi-generational households; and they traditionally value close contact and large social events, all of which increase vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic. To reduce COVID‑19 disparities in this high‑risk population that has been profoundly underserved by public health policies, WSU researchers will develop and test culturally tailored, participatory approaches to disease surveillance and prevention. The intention is to extend the improved methods that are generated to other high‑risk groups and have these mechanisms at the ready to combat future viral threats.

Patrick Solverson (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of Vermont/US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture
“Elderberry consumption and human health: a preliminary investigation into effects on indirect calorimetry, insulin sensitivity, and microbiome”
Edible berries are a rich source of anthocyanins, which have been touted for their antioxidant activity and potential to improve cardiovascular health. Emerging research has found that berry anthocyanins have an anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effect. Several rodent studies highlight the protective effects of berry consumption when paired with a high-fat diet, while human clinical work has highlighted the insulin-sensitizing effects of different berry varieties. One major limitation is the high volume of berries required to reach anthocyanin doses thought to elicit positive effects on health. Elderberries, which could be cultivated in many areas across the United States, are a dense source of anthocyanins and other flavonoids, and are a candidate food to address this dosing issue. This study will determine the bioactive potential of elderberries in humans. It will seek to determine whether elderberry consumption could improve fat oxidation, insulin sensitivity, and the gut microbiome in obese study volunteers who will be fed approximately half a cup of elderberry juice or placebo in combination with a controlled high-fat diet for 7 days.


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

Naomi Bender (PI); Wendy Williams Gilbert; Kim Mickey; David H. Garcia – WSU Health Sciences Spokane; College of Nursing; College of Pharmacy; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Empire Health Foundation
“InHealth Program”
This grant renews funding for the development and operation of an InHealth Program and new Center for Native American Health at Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane. The program includes services and resources aimed at increasing the number of Native Americans in healthcare careers, development of cultural curriculum to better prepare all healthcare workforce to work in PNW tribal communities, and advancing tribal partnerships and initiatives in the area of health. The InHealth Program is a collaboration between the WSU Native American Health Sciences and the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy.

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.

Ekaterina Burduli (PI); Crystal Lederhos Smith – College of Nursing; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse
“Supplement to Effective Caregiving for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome: Development of an Instructional Mobile Technology Platform for High-Risk Pregnant Women”
These are supplemental funds for a previously funded NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award. The 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.

Kimberly McKeirnan (PI); Megan Undeberg – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Empire Health Foundation
“Building the Prototype of a Regional System that Will Increase Access to Quality Patient Care through 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.

James Mohr (PI) – WSU Health Sciences Spokane
University of Washington
This contract provides renewal funding for the Spokane Math Engineering and Science Achievement (MESA) program. The program builds a pathway to college and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). MESA develops programming and initiatives to improve diversity and retention, with an emphasis on traditionally underrepresented students in STEM fields, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Pacific Islanders, and women.

Julie Postma (PI); Hans Haverkamp; Von Walden; Tamara Odom-Maryon; Patricia Butterfield; Solmaz Amiri – College of Nursing; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
“Promoting risk reduction among young adults with asthma during wildfire smoke events”
This award provides continued funding for a study that 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.

Natalie Turner (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 a broad impact across the general population and a particular impact on children and adults with social, health, and emotional challenges. This award provides the WSU Child and Family Research Unit with renewal funding for a training contract to support the use of trauma-informed principles in organizational practices and services at multiple health, education, and social service agencies in westside Los Angeles.

Wendy Williams-Gilbert (PI) – College of Nursing
University of Washington/Premera Blue Cross
“Premera Medication First for Opioid Use Disorder Program Grant”
This subaward provides continued funding for Dr. Wendy Williams-Gilbert to provide training, technical assistance, and clinical consultation to providers contracted with the University of Washington for the “Medication-First Delivery for High-Acuity Opioid Use Disorder Population” project. The project entails a multi-site study of the implementation of low-barrier access to buprenorphine for people with opioid use disorder. Drug treatment is combined with care navigation to be delivered in partnership with community-based service providers, including syringe exchanges, mobile medical clinics, and homeless services providers.