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Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane

Grant and Contract Awards

FY2021, 4th Quarter Summary
(April 1 – June 30, 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)

Salah-Uddin Ahmed (PI); Farheen Shaikh – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Rheumatology Research Foundation
“Epigenetic regulation of TWEAK signaling in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts”
This award funds a Graduate Health Professional Preceptorship for Farheen Shaikh, a PhD student in the lab of Salah Ahmed. Ahmed will mentor Shaikh as she conducts a research project aimed at unraveling the mechanisms that underlies rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and destruction of the tissue that lines joints. Specifically, Shaikh will evaluate the role of microRNA-17 in the regulation of TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts and discover their mechanisms of action. TWEAK is an understudied pro-inflammatory cytokine that has been found at higher levels in serum and joint tissue of rheumatoid arthritis. Previous studies by Ahmed show that levels of microRNA-17 are consistently low in the serum and synovial tissues of rheumatoid patients and suggest that overexpression of microRNA-17 significantly affects the TWEAK signaling pathway in rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts. Based on these findings, Shaikh will test the hypothesis that microRNA-17 reduces the proinflammatory effects of TWEAK in rheumatoid arthritis.

Solmaz Amiri (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Justin Denney – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health/College of Arts & Sciences
University of Colorado Denver/National Institutes of Health
“Disparities in Alzheimer’s Mortality among American Indian and Alaska Natives in the United States”
This study will explore the relationship between mortality from Alzheimer’s dementia and neighborhood characteristics (such as rurality, socioeconomic deprivation, and segregation), exposure to air pollution, and green space. The researchers will use nationwide mortality data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Vital Statistics System and will compare findings across different ethnic groups to determine whether Alzheimer’s dementia mortality is related to living in segregated and deprived neighborhoods and increased exposure to air pollutants in American Indian and Alaska Natives, African Americans, and Hispanics. This study will provide insight into modifiable risk factors and social determinates of health that can enhance scientists’ understanding of Alzheimer’s dementia mortality.

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker (co-PI); Astrid Suchy-Dicey (co-PI); Lonnie Nelson; Dedra Buchwald; Ekaterina Burduli  – College of Nursing/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Aging
“Psychological risk factors, quality of life, community, and brain aging in American Indians: The Strong Heart Study”
This award funds a study of risk and protective factors of cognitive performance in American Indians, who compared to other racial and ethnic groups suffer disproportionally from cerebrovascular disease; Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias; stress and trauma; depression; and substance misuse. In partnership with the Strong Heart Study—a 30-year cohort of aging American Indians—the researchers will collect psychological and cognitive data to determine the relationship between lower cognitive scores and higher stress, higher depression, and more substance use. They will also look at whether improvements in health-related quality of life and community connectedness could mitigate these negative effects. Findings from the study could inform prevention strategies to help Native people avoid developing Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementias, which are usually preceded by impaired cognitive performance.

Celestina Barbosa-Leiker (PI) – College of Nursing
Lumen High School/Innovia Foundation
“COVID-19: Assessment and Academic Recovery for Lumen Students”
This grant funds a mixed-methods study to determine the facilitators and barriers of education at Lumen High School—a newly established charter school for teen parents in Spokane, Wash.—during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research team will conduct qualitative interviews of Lumen students and parents related to their experiences during the 2020-2021 academic year. They will also conduct surveys to assess the physical, emotional, and social health and academic changes at two timepoints—April 2021 and April 2022—to determine individual differences for virtual versus in-person learning and for those engaged in summer school versus those who are not. Results of the study will allow Lumen to modify and grow current academic programming to match the needs of their students.

Judith Bowen (PI); Jeffrey Haney – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Paul Lauzier Charitable Foundation
“WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Medical Student Rural Training in Central and Eastern Washington”
This award funds the purchase of iPads that the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine provides to incoming medical students as their primary learning device. The iPads help students access their curriculum wherever they are located throughout the college’s four clinical campuses and 150+ clinical partner sites. By funding these iPads, the Paul Lauzier Charitable Foundation is helping to keep student debt as low as possible upon graduation so that graduates may return to underserved and rural communities throughout the state to practice medicine.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Solmaz Amiri; Gary Ferguson – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
Swedish Health Services
“Increasing Lung Cancer Screening Access Among American Indian and Alaska Natives: Disparities and Solutions”
This subaward provides funding for WSU to work with Swedish to evaluate lung cancer screening access and utilization by American Indian and Alaska Native People in Washington State. Specifically, the WSU team will help design a provider survey; conduct background research on similar programs in the Pacific Northwest; map Washington State statistics for lung cancer screening and smoking prevalence among AIANs; and conduct and analyze listening sessions around smoking cessation, disparities in smoking among AIANs, and tobacco prevention. The ultimate goal of the project is to develop culturally and geographically tailored educational tool kits targeted to patients and providers that can eventually raise awareness of and engagement in lung cancer screening across the region.

Dedra Buchwald (PI); Clemma Muller; Patrik Johansson; Solmaz Amiri – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of Washington/Kuni Foundation
“Increasing Native Radiation Oncology Access: Disparities and Solutions (INROADS)”
This award funds the assistance of a WSU research team to a project aimed at increasing radiation oncology access among American Indian and Alaska Native people. Led by Dedra Buchwald, the WSU team will conduct quantitative and qualitative assessments of access to cancer care, organize outreach activities to American Indian/Alaskan Native cancer patients and tribal clinical facilities, and help disseminate the findings, among other responsibilities.

Jonathan Espenschied (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of Washington
“Washington State University Family Medicine Residency Network – Pullman, WA”
This grant provides funding for WSU to establish a family medicine residency program at Pullman Regional Hospital, a critical access hospital that covers rural southeastern Washington as well as parts of Idaho and Oregon.   This new residency program will help enhance access to care, improve quality of patient care, and serve to address the regional physician shortage while at the same time providing excellent clinical education and a superb clinical learning environment for residents, medical students, and other clinical learners.

Hans Haverkamp (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Department of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
University of Oregon/Pacific-12 Conference
“COVID-19: Impact of COVID-19 on student athlete lung function and diffusing capacity”
Lung disease and/or damage can lead to substantial reductions in athletic performance and capacity. Corona virus infections such as SARS and MERS have well-described respiratory complications, but the long-term impact of COVID19 infection on long-term lung health and function is not known. This subaward provides support for Hans Haverkamp to collaborate on a study that will measure lung health and function in a large cohort of young, healthy athletes. Haverkamp will conduct these measures in 100 male and 100 female WSU athletes across multiple aerobic sports, both prior to COVID-19 infection and again near the end of the grant period. He will also perform these measures in all consenting athletes who test positive for COVID-19. The goal of the study is to determine the association of disease severity with the measures of lung function.

Philip Lazarus (PI); Prasad Bhagwat – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Washington Research Foundation
“Precision tools for drug metabolizing enzyme research and drug development”
This award funds a project focused on the development of reagents for drug metabolizing enzyme research that are fully characterized for genetic polymorphisms, protein expression, and activity. These reagents will enable the accurate translation of crucial in-vitro data used to predict clinical pharmacokinetics, first-in-human dosing, and potential drug-drug interactions. Once successfully developed, these precision tools have the potential to make drug development both safer and more cost-effective.

Crystal Lederhos Smith (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
US Department of Veterans Affairs/VA Portland Health Care System
“Collaborative pain care for rural Veterans with substance use disorders”
High rates of chronic pain are observed among veterans with alcohol and other drug use disorders. Active substance use disorders can complicate pain treatment for these patients, and these complications are worse for rural veterans who lack access to specialty pain care within Veteran Affairs and the community. This grant provides funding for WSU to help evaluate a previously developed telehealth pain program to reach rural veterans with both chronic pain and substance use disorders. The WSU team will work with the VA Portland Health Care System to implement the program at the Mann-Grandstaff Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, which serves rural Veterans in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. As part of this project, the research team will develop an implementation tool kit to aid future Veterans Health Administration sites that wish to adopt this collaborative pain program within their health care systems and medical centers.

Tara Marko (PI); Julie Postma – College of Nursing
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Nursing Research
“Effects to Neonatal Outcomes After In Utero Wildfire Smoke Exposure”
This study will analyze birth records from Washington State against air quality measurements during the same time period to determine the relationship between in-utero wildfire-smoke exposure on health outcomes in newborns. The researchers will look at the nine-year timeframe between 2010 and 2018. The study will use the mothers’ home addresses to estimate exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on wildfire smoke days.

Sterling McPherson (PI); John Roll; Michael McDonell; Ekaterina Burduli; Naomi Chaytor; Matthew Layton – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute
“An Addictions Neuroclinical Assessment Based Treatment for Smokers with an Alcohol Use Disorder”
This new project involves a randomized controlled trial that will evaluate whether an incentive-based behavioral treatment that reinforces alcohol abstinence combined with the smoking cessation medication varenicline could successfully reduce both alcohol use and cigarette smoking among heavy-drinking smokers. Tobacco and alcohol combined kill more than half a million people each year in the U.S., making the addiction to these two substances combined the leading cause of preventable death.

Clemma Muller (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Nursing Research
“Increasing Colorectal Cancer Screening in Alaska Native Men”
Colorectal cancer occurs more frequently in Alaska Native men than in any other US racial or ethnic group. Though screening can prevent colorectal cancer and improve treatment outcomes through early detection, low screening rates are seen Alaska Native men. As part of this project, the researchers will culturally tailor an existing intervention that used text messaging to promote colorectal screening among Alaska Native people, which successfully increased screening in Alaska Native women but not men. The study will use patient surveys and focus groups and key informant interviews with healthcare providers to determine barriers and facilitators to optimizing colorectal cancer screening in Alaska Native men. Based on the findings, the team will revise the content and/or frequency of the text messages and test the effectiveness of the tailored intervention with 600 Alaska Native men ages 40-75 who are active patients at the Southcentral Foundation, an Alaska-based non-profit healthcare system.

Cassandra Nikolaus (PI); Ka’imi Sinclair – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/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 percent of healthcare facilities reported screening for food insecurity. The goal of this study is to systematically characterize the variability of implementation of food insecurity screening in healthcare settings, using data on sites, providers, patients, and visits from electronic health records in a national network of 600+ community health centers. The investigator will also 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.

Cassandra Nikolaus (PI); Brian French; Ka’imi Sinclair – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health/College of Education
Tufts University/US Department of Agriculture
“Validity Evidence for the use of the USDA Adult Food Security Survey Module with American Indian and Alaska Native Adults”
Research suggests that households led by American Indians or Alaska Natives (AI/AN) are at elevated risk of food insecurity. However, efforts to understand and address food insecurity among AI/ANs in the U.S. are weakened by the absence of research to validate the Food Security Survey Module (FSSM), which the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses to assess household food security, in this specific subpopulation. This study will test the validity of the FSSM in 556 AI/AN adults in the 2019 National Health Interview Survey. Findings from the project will determine whether the FSSM survey functions well for AI/ANs or whether adaption is needed to account for the AI/ANs’ unique historical, cultural, and sociopolitical influences. This will help to establish accurate measures of food insecurity among AI/ANs, which is essential to creating health equity.

Gail Oneal (PI) – College of Nursing
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
“Jonas Scholar 2021-2022 – Molly Parker”
This new grant provides two years of matching funds for PhD in Nursing candidate Molly Parker to participate in the Jonas Nurse Scholar Program in Environmental Health. The program supports doctoral nursing students and aims to increase the number of doctorally prepared faculty available to teach in nursing schools nationwide and the number of advanced practice nurses providing direct patient care.

Glenn Prestwich (PI); Katrina Rogers; Michaele Armstrong; Brian Kraft – WSU Health Sciences Spokane/College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences/Innovation & Research Engagement Office
US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration
“Sprint EDA FIRE & RAIN Network”
This grant provides funding for sp3nw—WSU Health Sciences Spokane’s early-stage life science business incubator—to lead a regional economic development consortium in creating a Flexible Infrastructure for Resilient Entrepreneurship (FIRE). The consortium will implement four main aims to meet critical needs to grow life science entrepreneurship and technology-driven businesses. This will include implementation of an Executive Advisors and Review Team Honorarium (EARTH) program and an Internship Consultants for Entrepreneurs (ICE) team, the establishment of a Rural Angel Investment Network (RAIN) to train and encourage local investors, and the creation of a Workforce Innovation Network Development (WIND) program targeting pharmaceutical manufacturing education and certification to create workforce opportunities and regional industry growth.

Claire Richards (PI) – College of Nursing
University of Washington/Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
“Promoting goal concordant care among patients with advanced kidney disease”
This subaward provides funding for WSU’s participation in a project to develop and pilot test a new communication tool that will facilitate shared decision-making for treatment of advanced kidney disease and end-of-life care. Dr. Richards will contribute her expertise to identify the clinical context in which healthcare goals for patients with advanced kidney disease are documented, as well as their downstream patterns and the quality of end-of-life care.

Astrid Suchy-Dicey (PI); Dedra Buchwald – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/ Community Health
University of Washington Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center/National Institutes of Health
“Plasma phosphorylated tau protein and Alzheimer’s disease in American Indians: The Strong Heart Study”
Tau is a protein found in neurons that can accumulate into tangles that play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. Concentrations of phosphorylated tau (p-tau) are higher in Alzheimer’s patients. Levels of p-tau181 in blood correlate closely with multiple markers of Alzheimer’s disease severity and symptomology and can distinguish patients from healthy controls with high precision. The ability to use blood p-tau181 as a biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease would provide a non-invasive, low-cost, efficient way of diagnosing the disease in settings such as rural American Indian reservations, which provide limited access to specialty care. This pilot study will conduct the first measures of p-tau181 in American Indian elders using stored blood samples from the Strong Heart Study, a cohort study of aging American Indians.  It will show the feasibility, efficiency, and practicability of using a blood p-tau181 assay in a larger study aimed at identifying Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in a large cohort of American Indians.

Anil Singh (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Arthritis National Research Foundation
“Molecular reprogramming of Rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts by interleukin 6”
Interleukin-6 (IL-6) is a multifunctional cytokine protein that drives chronic inflammation and joint destruction seen in rheumatoid arthritis. This grant provides funding for a study that will look at the mechanisms by which IL-6 induces the transformation of rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts into cells that act like osteoclasts, a type of bone cells that break down bone tissue. Unraveling these mechanisms may help scientists open up new avenues for the development of novel targeted treatments for rheumatoid arthritis.

Jing Wei (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
“Targeting TPH1 in Neuroendocrine Prostate Cancer”
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer is a highly aggressive and incurable form of prostate cancer that occurs in men who have received hormone treatments for castration-resistant prostrate cancer. This study looks at the potential role of the TPH1—an enzyme that helps produce the neurotransmitter serotonin—in neuroendocrine prostate cancer, based on preliminary findings that suggest that silencing TPH1 suppressed the growth of neuroendocrine prostate cancer cells and the expression of the neuroendocrine marker. Findings from this study will help define the biology of lethal prostate cancer and may lead to new treatments to improve outcomes for men with lethal prostate cancer.

Boyang Wu (PI); Kathryn Meier – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Cancer Institute
“Deciphering Mechanisms of Tumor-Stromal Interactions in Prostate Cancer”
The grant provides funding for a project that will try to unravel the molecular mechanisms by which non-cancerous stromal cells support the growth and progression of prostate cancer. The ultimate goal is to identify pathways that could be targeted with drugs to disrupt tumor-stromal interactions and potentially halt the spread of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer affects one in nine men and causes nearly 30,000 deaths in the United States each year.


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

Salah-Uddin Ahmed (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
“MicroRNA-based therapy for rheumatoid arthritis”
There is evidence that MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate disease progression in rheumatoid arthritis. At the same time, recent studies suggest that in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer there is a reduction in miRNA expression. In this continuing study, the research team will attempt to identify the mechanisms that underlie altered miRNA production in rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, they will use rodent models to determine the potential value of miRNA replacement therapy in treating rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers will specifically look at a family of miRNAs known as miR-17, as recent studies have provided evidence that miR-17 expression was significantly low in serum and joint cells and tissues of rheumatoid arthritis patients, as well as rats with a similar condition.

Ekaterina Burduli (PI); Crystal Lederhos Smith – College of Nursing
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 NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award for a study to 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.

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.

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 provides a funding increase for a study to determine the role of two cell cycle proteins known to control CDK2 activity—CDK7 and RBL2—in heart cell death and chemosensitivity of the heart. This research could help lay the foundation for developing new strategies to protect the heart during cancer treatment.

John Clarke (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
“Enteric and hepatic transporter mechanisms for pharmacokinetic natural product-drug interactions”
Herbal supplements can be beneficial to patients but also come with a risk that they will interact with other drugs being taken at the same time, which can cause drug toxicities. Herbal supplements can inhibit drug transporter proteins, which can change drug exposures in the body. This continuing research will define the transporter mechanisms behind previously observed natural product-drug interactions between green tea and goldenseal and other drugs.

Marcos Frank (PI) – 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 continuing 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. Supplemental funds were also awarded for the researchers to study the role of astroglial mechanisms in sleep in mouse models of neurodegenerative disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 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 not only excessive daytime sleepiness and insomnia but also Alzheimer’s disease.

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.

Michael Gibson (PI); Jean‐Baptiste Roullet – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
SSADH Association
“SSADHD Biorepository”
This award provides supplemental funding for a biorepository that supports research on succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase deficiency (SSADHD), a rare metabolic disorder that can cause a variety of neurological symptoms. The biobank holds biospecimens and matching clinical data collected longitudinally from all interested patients, siblings, and other family members as well as from unaffected, age‐matched control individuals. Biospecimens are available to investigators around the world who are engaged in SSADHD research. The funds provided by this award cover the costs and labor associated with shipping, processing, and storing biospecimens.

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 continued funding of a subaward for 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.

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 renews funding 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.

Michael McDonell (PI); Oladunni Oluwoye – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Washington State Department of Social and Health Services/National Institutes of Health; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“First Episode Psychosis Evaluation”
This is supplemental funding for a grant that funds activities related to the evaluation of the Washington State Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery’s New Journeys first episode psychosis program. The New Journeys program is designed to enhance the recognition of early signs and symptoms of psychosis so that effective treatment can be started promptly. WSU leads the quantitative evaluation of the program and is working with the University of Washington to conduct the qualitative evaluation. This supplement funds the development of a dissemination strategy to increase the program’s reach to racially and ethnically diverse communities and to raise community awareness about first episode psychosis and New Journeys. It also helps the researchers continue and expand efforts to address substance use and the implementation of a substance use intervention within the New Journeys first episode psychosis program.

Lonnie Nelson (PI); Luciana Hebert – College of Nursing/Community Health
National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“COVID-19: Caring Contacts: A Strength-based, Suicide Prevention Trial in 4 Native Communities”
This award provides supplemental funding for 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. The added funds for this study allow the researchers extra time to complete recruitment for the study, which was hindered by COVID-19 related restrictions.

Lonnie Nelson (PI); Hans Van Dongen; Astrid Suchy-Dicey; Kimberly Honn; Celestina Barbosa-Leiker – College of Nursing/Community Health; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep and Performance Research Center
National Institutes of Health; National Institute of Minority Health Disparities
“American Indian CHronic disEase RIsk and Sleep Health (AI-CHERISH)”
Studies have suggested that sleep disorders are at least as prevalent among American Indians and Alaska Natives as they are in the U.S. population overall. However, there have not been any studies that have extensively examined the epidemiology of sleep problems in a representative sample of American Indians. This award continues funding for an innovative mixed-methods study that will allow the research team to estimate the prevalence of sleep problems in Native populations and their associations with specific cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. In addition, they will characterize cultural factors related to sleep health. The study will recruit 750 American Indian participants who were previously enrolled in the Strong Heart Family Study and will be the largest epidemiological examination of sleep health and cardiovascular and metabolic risk to date.

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 provides continued funds for 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.

Gail Oneal (PI) – College of Nursing
US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Workforce
“Washington State University Faculty Loan Program 2021”
These federal loan funds help the WSU College of Nursing prepare graduate nurses for careers as nurse educators. The funds support the WSU College of Nursing’s Nurse Faculty Loan Program, which helps meet the financial needs of graduate nurse educator students for tuition, fees, and books.

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:”

This award provides supplemental funding for a commercialization gap fund award. As part of this project, the researcher 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 blood thinners and for the diagnosis of vitamin K-dependent diseases, such as liver cancers and impaired blood clotting associated with COVID-19.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
“PRINCE: Proteomics-based Research Initiative for Non-CYP Enzymes (Genentech)”
This grant provides supplemental funding for the PRINCE (Proteomics-based Research Initiative for Non-CYP Enzymes) program, a research collaboration between WSU and the pharmaceutical industry to elucidate the role of non-cytochrome P450 (non-CYP) enzymes in the disposition, efficacy, and toxicity of drugs. The overarching objective is to develop physiological models to predict drug disposition, which could help reduce the number of animal and clinical studies needed before new drugs can be approved. Genentech is one of three pharmaceutical companies participating in the PRINCE program.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
“Proteomics-informed in vitro to in vivo extrapolation of non-cytochrome P450 drug metabolism”
This grant provides renewal funding for the PRINCE (Proteomics-based Research Initiative for Non-CYP Enzymes) program, a research collaboration between WSU and the pharmaceutical industry to elucidate the role of non-cytochrome P450 (non-CYP) enzymes in the disposition, efficacy, and toxicity of drugs. The overarching objective is to develop physiological models to predict drug disposition, which could help reduce the number of animal and clinical studies needed before new drugs can be approved. Genentech is one of three pharmaceutical companies participating in the PRINCE program. This funding will allow the researchers to develop a potential new approach to address the poor in vitro to in vivo extrapolation of drug metabolism by non-cytochrome P450 enzymes, which is associated with unpredictable pharmacokinetics and safety of drugs.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Thomas Jefferson University/National institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute
“Multifunctional Regulation of Prostate Cancer Metabolism by Sigma1 Modulators”
This continuing study will look at the role of a protein known as Sigma1 in the development of prostate cancer. The goal is to define the mechanisms by which Sigma1 regulates pathways and signals involved in advanced prostate cancer and evaluate how Sigma1 activity can be modulated, or altered, pharmacologically to disrupt the development and progression of prostate tumors. If Sigma1 can be successfully modulated, this could offer new possibilities for combination treatment strategies to enhance treatment efficacy and bypass drug resistance mechanisms that lead to treatment-resistant cancer.

Ken Roberts (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Discuren Charitable Foundation
“7th-9th grade mentoring program in rural Stevens County”
These are supplemental funds for a project that 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 provides 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 also emphasizes the development of key personal attributes in students including leadership skills, interpersonal skills, resilience, teamwork, and collaboration.

Katrina Rogers (PI); Gregg Godsey – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences; WSU Spokane
Washington State Employment Security Department
“Expanding the Biotechnician Assistant Credentialing Exam (BACE) and Cross Credit in Washington State”

This award renews funding for a project that creates a career launch program that provides Eastern Washington students in Project Lead The Way’s (PLTW) biomedical science preparatory pathway a chance to engage with local bioscience industries. This new program will help prepare K-12 students to enter careers in biomedicine, health care, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and biomanufacturing and related field, ensuring that the future workforce is strong and sustainable in this high-need industry. So far the program has strengthened and expanded existing partnerships with bioscience industries, cultivated new partnerships, vetted an industry-recognized certification for students entering bioscience career fields, enhanced PLTW biomedical science courses to meet OSPI/Career and Technical Education criteria as “preparatory,” and articulated dual credit and post-secondary credit agreements between school districts and colleges in Washington State. This renewal funding helps build on that work by extending industry acceptance of the Biotechnician Assistant Credentialing Exam (BACE) certification, articulating more cross-credit agreements at community and state colleges, and developing career-connected experiences for Project Lead the Way and other students.

John Roll (PI); Sterling McPherson; Celestina Barbosa-Leiker – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; College of Nursing
National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse
“Clinical Trials Network: Pacific Northwest Node”

This award continues funding for WSU’s role in supporting the Pacific Northwest Node of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network (CTN). The Pacific Northwest Node is a multi-institution, multiple principal investigator effort to continue CTN’s mission to improve the quality of drug abuse treatment throughout the country through science.

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.

Astrid Suchy-Dicey (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Celestina Barbosa-Leiker; Paul Whitney – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health; College of Nursing; College of Arts & Sciences
National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging
“Resilience, cultural alignment, and social support in brain aging: Data from the Strong Heart Study”

Many American Indians experience trauma and disparities in environmental and socioeconomic conditions that can worsen daily stresses and contribute to health risks. This study explores associations between resilience, cultural alignment, and social support in Native people and whether these factors can mediate chronic stress and the potential that this chronic stress results in neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This award provides continued funding for the addition of several psychosocial and neuropsychological instruments on resilience, social support, cultural identity and alignment, and cognition to the existing study protocol for the Strong Heart Study, a longitudinal cohort of American Indian adults from 13 tribal communities across the US. The researchers will study 3,000 participants who will be recruited between 2022 and 2024. Findings from the study will offer a clearer picture of the relative contributions of psychosocial, behavioral, interpersonal, and socioeconomic factors related to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Eva Szentirmai (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 continuing 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.

Jonathan Wisor (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
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 continuing project 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.