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Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane

Grant and Contract Awards

FY2023, 2nd Quarter Summary
(October 1 – December 31, 2022)

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


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

Solmaz Amiri (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Patrik Johansson – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health
University of North Texas/National Institutes of Health, AIM-AHEAD

“Advancing Health Equity with AI/ML in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities”
This new grant provides funding for principal investigator Solmaz Amiri to participate in the Fall 2022 Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) Program. Supported by the National Institutes of Health, AIM-AHEAD seeks to establish coordinated partnerships to increase the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) models and to enhance the capabilities of this emerging technology. Participation in the fellowship will allow Amiri to expand her expertise in the area of AI/ML and to use that knowledge in conjunction with geospatial and statistical techniques to study the role of place on health factors and outcomes in American Indian/Alaska Native people and communities. Amiri’s ultimate goal is to reduce health disparities in this unique population.

Dawn DePriest (PI) – College of Nursing
Washington Student Achievement Council
“Nursing Simulation Lab Modernization Grant Request”
This award provides funding for the College of Nursing to upgrade equipment and purchase new technologies to expand its capacity for experiential learning through simulation activities. These funds will benefit both the Spokane and Yakima campuses. They will be used to update/replace manikins, patient beds, and other equipment; purchase automated medication systems and other novel technologies students will encounter in clinical settings; and update simulation hardware and software to enable remote participation in simulation activities. The grant will also create additional simulation spaces in both Spokane and Yakima.

Glen Duncan (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology
University of Arizona/National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging
“Genetically Informed Studies of Social Connectedness and Health”
This NIH subaward funds WSU’s contributions to a five-year study on the relationships between social connectedness and health, led by the University of Arizona. High-quality social relationships are correlated with decreased risk for chronic disease and death from a range of health conditions. Likewise, poor-quality relationships or social disconnection are correlated with considerable risk for a range of negative health outcomes, including decreases in cognitive functioning, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia in middle aged and older adults. However, correlations alone do not point to causal mechanisms. To address the limited causal evidence, the researchers will conduct a study of 1,000 adult twin pairs from the Washington State Twin Registry, looking at key social connection variables—such as social integration, relationship satisfaction, and attachment styles—as well as neuropsychological assessments of each twin. The researchers will compare data across four groups of twins—fraternal and identical twin pairs with discordant marital status (i.e., one twin is married and the other is not) and fraternal and identical twin pairs with both twins in intact marriages. The ultimate goal is to reveal the causal significance of social connection on cognitive outcomes linked to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Leila Harrison (PI); Ann Dyer – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
Oregon Health and Sciences University/US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration
“Northwest Native American Center of Excellence”
This new grant funds the development, implementation, and operation of a post-baccalaureate program for American Indian/Alaska Native scholars that provides conditional acceptance into the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine’s MD program. The WSU team will spend two years developing the post-baccalaureate program before admitting three cohorts into the program annually. This work will be done in collaboration with the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence (NNACoE) at Oregon Health Sciences University, which works to increase the number of American Indians and Alaska Natives in the U.S. health professions workforce.

Liat Kriegel (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health
“Risk Environments of Permanent Supportive Housing for Formerly Incarcerated People with Serious Mental Illnesses”
This Mentored Research Scientist Career Development (K01) Award funds a four-year study exploring how the geography of permanent supportive housing can support the community reentry of formerly incarcerated people with serious mental illnesses. Despite high rates of homelessness among this population, permanent supportive housing provides few strategies for navigating community integration. Housing sites are often located in areas with high poverty, substance use, and crime. Yet, they are also surrounded by public spaces that are associated with positive outcomes—such as increased self-esteem and life satisfaction, a positive orientation toward recovery, and independent employment—and that can provide access to tangible and social resources. This study will examine how individual, interpersonal, and environmental characteristics interact with different environments of permanent supportive housing to support community participation and treatment engagement and reduce psychiatric distress and substance use during community reentry. It will use community-engaged research methods, including interviews with 80 formerly incarcerated clients with serious mental illnesses living in permanent supportive housing. Study outcomes will be used to work with people with lived experiences of incarceration, serious mental illnesses, and housing insecurity and with providers to codesign an intervention.

Luis Manriquez (PI); Luisita Francis; David Garcia – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
“2022 Innovation Fund: Geiger/Hatch Health Equity Organizing Initiative”
This award funds the work of the Geiger/Hatch Health Equity Organizing Initiative, a partnership between the IAF Northwest—a regional affiliate of the nation’s oldest and largest network of community organizing projects—and the Health Equity Circle at the WSU College of Medicine. Health sciences students and IAF-NW organizers collaborated to develop the Health Equity Circle, a regional network of student-led organizing chapters established to address systemic and historical racism in health and health care. This funding provides funding for staff support so the Health Equity Circle can continue to create clinic organizing programs that engage community health centers as sites of organizing around health equity.

Michael McDonell (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/PRISM
WA State Health Care Authority/US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“HCA Virtual Contingency Management Training”
This grant provides funding for the WSU Promoting Research Initiatives in Mental Health and Substance Use (PRISM) Collaborative to support the Washington Healthcare Authority (HCA) in the implementation of contingency management training. Contingency management is a behavioral intervention that uses small prizes and other incentives to promote abstinence from addictive substances. The goal of this project is to provide technical assistance to clinical sites that are working to develop and implement a contingency management model for psychostimulant drugs.

Michael McDonell (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/PRISM
Gila River Indian Community/Gila River Health Care Community
“Gila River Healthcare Authority Contingency Management”
As part of this contract, the WSU Promoting Research Initiatives in Mental Health and Substance Use (PRISM) Collaborative will provide technical support to the Gila River Health Care Community—a tribal healthcare organization based in Phoenix, Arizona—as they develop and implement a contingency management model for psychostimulant drugs. The new model will be used by Gila River Health Care clinicians in multiple regions of Arizona.

Pablo Monsivais (PI); Ofer Amram; Solmaz Amiri – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology/Community Health
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
“Leveraging cell phone location data to measure interactions with the food environment and associated health outcomes”
Unhealthy diet is a key risk factor for chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Currently available long-term measures of diet are subject to error and bias. Access to and use of food retailers is a recognized population-level determinant of diet. One way of objectively measuring this for health research could be through Google Location History Timeline (GTL) data, which includes high-resolution geographic location data collected through Google smartphone apps. This study will determine the feasibility of using GTL data to develop new measures of long-term patterns of food retailer use. It will collect GTL data from 3,000 adults from the Washington State Twin Registry, including daily time-activity patterns from 2012 to present. The researchers will evaluate these against measures of food outlet use and detailed dietary intake in a subset of 288 twins. They will measure how metrics of food retailer use relate to health outcomes, particularly weight status, weight change, and self-rated overall health. Having a new way to measure food access behaviors associated with diet and health outcomes could help advance the study of how the built environment influences human health.

April Needham (PI); Michaele Armstrong – WSU Spokane, Center for Innovation
U.S. Dept. of Commerce; Economic Development Administration
“Company Incubation”
This grant provides funds to merge the Center for Innovation—which has traditionally offered one-on-one technical assistance to small businesses and startup companies—with SP3NW, an early-stage life science business incubator. The new entity will operate under the SP3NW branding as a membership-based incubator program that provides intensive support to encourage the growth of regionally based ventures. Programming will include monthly coaching, executive advisor and student consultant matchmaking, CEO luncheons, startup advisor lunch and learns, prototyping design and manufacturing roundtables, and ecosystem networking. Based on the WSU Health Sciences campus in Spokane, Washington, SP3NW serves early-stage scalable startup companies regardless of industry or university affiliation.

Oladunni Oluwoye (PI); Solmaz Amiri; Michael McDonell – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/PRISM
WA State Health Care Authority/US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
“First Episode Psychosis Evaluation”
This is a new contract that continues work that was previously funded by the Washington State Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery. It funds activities related to the state’s New Journeys first episode psychosis program, which is designed to enhance the recognition of early signs and symptoms of psychosis so that effective treatment can be started promptly. Activities covered by this contract include ongoing data collection from current and past New Journey participants, expansion of the evaluation to include additional sites, and work with Tribal communities in Washington State to culturally adapt the New Journeys model for implementation in those communities.

Mary Paine (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
The City University of New York – York College/National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Quantifying effects of comorbidities and genetics on cannabinoid exposure in the elderly”
A growing number of older adults has turned to cannabis products such as marijuana, hemp, and hash oil to alleviate pain, depression, insomnia, and other ailments. However, there is limited knowledge about how the safety of cannabis may be altered by the aging process combined with chronic disease and/or genetic variations in drug metabolizing enzymes. The most extensively studied cannabinoids in cannabis are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Older adults with liver dysfunction or who carry genetic variants may be at higher risk for adverse events from CBD and THC than young, healthy adults. There is an urgent need to understand how chronic disease such as liver dysfunction combined with certain genetic variants in drug metabolizing enzymes alter how older adults respond to CBD and THC. The goal of this project is to develop novel physiologically based pharmacokinetic models to predict CBD and THC disposition in older adults with liver dysfunction and assess the combined effects of age and genetic variants on CBD and THC exposure.

Paul Panipinto (PI); Salah-Uddin Ahmed – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
“Pentagalloyl glucose as an inhibitor of monosodium urate induced inflammation”
This award funds a two-year predoctoral training grant for Paul Panipinto, a PhD candidate in the Ahmed lab. They will support Panipinto as he conducts studies to investigate pentagalloyl glucose (PGG)—a compound found in herbs and fruit—as a potential novel treatment for gout, a common type of arthritis that causes episodes of painful and stiff joints. Gout is caused by high blood levels of uric acid, which can lead to the formation of monosodium urate crystals (MSU) that accumulate in joints and trigger inflammation, pain, and swelling. PGG is known to reduce inflammation in other diseases, and previous research suggests it could inhibit two enzymes that play a key role in inflammation caused by MSU. The goal of this research project is to investigate the molecular mechanism by which PGG reduces MSU-induced inflammation in both human cells and mouse models.

Julie Postma (PI); Molly Parker – College of Nursing
University of Washington/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIOSH
“Employer Perspectives on Wildfire Smoke Hazards in the Agricultural Workplace”
Wildfires have increased in duration, frequency, and intensity in the western United States. The number of people exposed to harmful levels of smoke inhalants has increased, as has the number of days people are exposed. Washington State agricultural workers—who are largely Latinx—are at disproportionate risk of adverse occupational health effects from wildfire smoke since the nature of their work requires them to be outdoors during peak smoke season. They rely heavily on employers to guide and permit protective workplace actions. Under a new emergency rule enacted by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, employers were required to provide training, monitor air quality index (AQI), communicate hazards, and implement protective actions during the 2021-2022 summer harvest season. The purpose of the study is to determine the perspectives of agricultural employers on the source, understanding, adoption, and communication of air quality information.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
Merck & Company
“Effect of rifampin treatment on hepatic transporter expression”
The goal of this agreement is to evaluate the effect of rifampin, an antibiotic used to treat tuberculosis and other bacterial infections, on the expression in the liver of certain transporter and metabolic enzyme proteins. This work will benefit a clinical trial led by Merck, the agency funding the agreement.

Hans Van Dongen (PI); Brieann Satterfield – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Sleep & Performance Research Center
University of Michigan/US Department of Defense, US Army
“Understanding and Predicting Cognitive Fatigue across Multiple Timescales, Distinct Aspects of Cognition, and Different Individuals with Multiscale Whole Cortex Models”
This subaward funds the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center’s role in a five-year project funded as part of a US Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant. The overall goal of the project is to understand and predict cognitive fatigue in individuals, focusing on built-up fatigue in the brain such as during sleep deprivation and when individuals are working at times that do not align with their natural 24-hour sleep/wake rhythms. As part of this work, the researchers will build personalized mathematical models of sleep, circadian rhythms, physical activity and mood and optimize the efficacy of objective mobile sensors to detect the onset of cognitive fatigue. They will test the models’ predictive ability through controlled laboratory studies measuring the impact of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance, which will be conducted at the WSU Human Sleep and Cognition Laboratory in Spokane.

Jiyue Zhu (PI); Chris Davis – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences/Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging
 “A mouse model with humanized telomere homeostasis”
This five-year NIH award funds work to develop a new mouse model with human-like telomere homeostasis. Telomeres are the protective caps of chromosomal ends and function as an aging clock. In adult humans, telomeres get shorter every time cells multiply. This ultimately causes cells to lose their ability to proliferate, a process known as replicative aging. Some cell types—such as reproductive cells and cancer cells—are not subject to replicative aging because a gene encoding the telomerase enzyme, which helps to reset telomere length, is turned on in these cells. Mice do not experience replicative aging. They have excessively long telomeres, and telomerase lengthens telomeres in most cells in mice. These differences make animal models unsuitable for addressing many fundamental questions in human aging and cancer biology. In this project, the researchers will genetically engineer a mouse strain with limited telomerase gene activity and human-like short telomeres. They will use the mice to study how loss of telomere length contributes to human aging. Specifically, the researchers will study how short telomeres affect lifespan and explore ways to extend health span, the part of a person’s life with good health.


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

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 award continues a study that is based on a previous project that showed that microcystin-LR—a toxin produced by blue-green algae found in lakes and other freshwater bodies—can drive the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) to a more severe form. As part of the current 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.

Jason Gerstner (PI); Carlos Flores; Christopher Davis – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
“Characterizing evolutionarily conserved mechanisms underlying sleep, clocks, and memory”
Scientists have long been working toward understanding the function of sleep. Adaptive processes, such as synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory, are sensitive to sleep loss, which may provide important clues for identifying the physiological function of sleep. Cellular and molecular processes that are critical for sleep function within nervous tissue also may not be restricted to neurons, but may include glial cells, which are known to regulate metabolism, sleep, and cognitive function. Changes in the interactions between neurons and glial cells—particularly around synapses related to activity- and energy-dependent demands during wakefulness—are key sites to investigate the functional aspects of sleep. This award continues funding for a project in which the researchers will conduct studies in evolutionarily diverse species that integrate the 24-hour rhythm of rest-activity cycles with changes in sleep need. The goal is to identify cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie activity-dependent changes in synaptic activity, are sensitive to sleep, are critical for cognitive function, and are conserved across different species.

Jeff Haney (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of Washington
“Washington State University/Family Medicine Residency Network”
This subaward provides supplemental funding for the WSU College of Medicine’s role in the Family Medicine Residency Network, a collaboration with the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest University to increase the family physician workforce in shortage areas in the state. This funding pays for WSU to provide technical and organizational assistance to the Family Medicine Residency Network Rural Programs.

Julianne Jett (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
WSU Office of Research/Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
“Using psychological and biological measures of stress to predict current and future drinking in individuals with co-occurring alcohol use disorder and serious mental illness”
People with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) most frequently cite stressful events and negative mood as primary reasons for continued alcohol use and relapse. Previous research suggests that self-reported and biomarker measures of stress can predict alcohol use during the early stages of abstinence. However, it remains unclear whether these measures can also predict alcohol use and enhanced negative affect in active drinking individuals. This continuing study will investigate if self-reported and biomarker measures of stress predict current and future alcohol use and negative affect in actively drinking individuals with AUD enrolled in a larger clinical trial of a behavioral intervention for AUD. Funding from this grant will allow the researchers to add collection of biomarker stress data—including standardized cortisol sampling and a guided imagery stress stimulus—to the existing procedures in place for the larger study. If self-reported stress and/or stress biomarkers can in fact predict current and future alcohol use, that could inform the use of stress-targeted interventions to improve the efficacy of AUD treatment.

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 continuing 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.

Michael McDonell and Marian Wilson; (co-PIs); Sterling McPherson; Crystal Smith; Katherine Hirchak; Naomi Bender – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/College of Nursing/WSU Spokane
Northwest Indian College/National Institutes of Health, Native American Research Centers for Health
“Association between cannabis and pain outcomes in a Tribally operated clinic”
This grant award continues a four-year study of the relationship between cannabis use and pain at a Native health clinic. Previous research suggests that THC in cannabis may have a positive effect on anxiety, depression, and sleep. This raises the possibility that THC not only provides direct pain relief but may also ease symptoms associated with pain, such as poor sleep and mood. The WSU research team will conduct a comprehensive analysis of patient demographics and data on cannabis use, pain, mood, and sleep to determine how cannabis impacts pain intensity and interference in 350 adults seeking pain care at a Native-owned and operated natural healing clinic in Washington State. The grant will also provide opportunities for research training for Native students through Northwest Indian College—a partner on this grant—and WSU’s Native American Health Sciences Program.

Sterling McPherson (PI); Crystal 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 continuing study uses 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.

Becki Meehan (PI); Sarah Washington-Halsted – WSU Spokane Student Affairs
University of Washington
“WSU Health Sciences Spokane – 2022-2023 WA MESA Program”
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.

Andre Miguel (PI); Sterling McPherson – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
WSU Office of Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program
Contingency management to reduce heavy alcohol drinking days in smokers receiving varenicline”
Smoking and alcohol use are the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing over a half a million Americans every year. It is estimated that as much as 80 percent of those seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder smoke cigarettes. This award provides continued internal funding for a study to evaluate the use of contingency management—a rewards-based behavioral intervention for drug and alcohol abuse—to reduce heavy drinking in a population of heavy drinking smokers who are currently being treated for smoking cessation with the drug varenicline. Varenicline is known to not only improve smoking cessation but also decrease drinking behavior among heavy drinking smokers. This randomized controlled trial will have participants use mobile-phone based breathalyzer technology to submit evidence of reduced drinking in exchange for cash reinforcers. This study design helps overcome limitations that have prevented contingency management from being widely applied to alcohol use disorders, such as challenges detecting abstinence using standard breath alcohol test procedures and the difficulty of asking participants to come in for urine alcohol testing three times a week.

Clemma Muller (PI); Dedra Buchwald; Robert Rosenman – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine/Community Health/School of Economic Sciences
Oklahoma State University/National Institutes of Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
“Osage Community Supported Agriculture Study (OCSA)”
Poor diet is the number one risk factor for preventable disease in the US. Few studies have looked at the environmental determinants of diet-related diseases in American Indian communities. As part of an effort to promote traditional healthy foods, the Osage Nation based in Oklahoma is implementing the Osage Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), in which Osage citizens will receive a share of farm fresh produce each week for 6 months. This award provides continued funding for a randomized controlled trial to test the effect of the CSA intervention on diet and health outcomes among Osage adults ages 35-75 who are either overweight or obese. Findings from this study will address sustainability and inform decisions by tribal leadership and other key stakeholders about long-term implementation and dissemination of the CSA intervention. In addition, they will inform research and policy efforts to create sustainable food access in reservations with high rates of chronic disease, as well as in urban AI communities where CSAs are widely available and could be tailored.

Mary Paine (PI); John White; Matthew Layton – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences; Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
National Institutes of Health; National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
“Natural Product-Drug Interaction Research: The Roadmap to Best Practices”
This award provides continued funding for the multidisciplinary Center of Excellence for Natural Product-Drug Interactions Research, which is led by WSU in collaboration with three other institutions. The center was established in collaboration with the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) to create a roadmap for best research practices for the study of potential unwanted interactions between natural products and conventional medications. Activities funded within the five-year project period for this award include new studies of potential natural product-drug interactions and their mechanisms, work to expand and optimize the functionality of the center’s website and data repository, and efforts to broaden the dissemination of knowledge to national and international research communities and the public.

Julie Postma (PI)– College of Nursing
Castner Incorporated/National Institutes of Health, National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences
“Environmental Health Research Institute for Nurse and Clinician Scientists”
This award continues funding for a five-year grant for Dr. Julie Postma to serve as faculty in the NIH-funded Environmental Health Research Institute for Nurse and Clinician Scientists. The institute educates nurse and clinician scientists on foundational concepts in environmental health to prepare them for conducting environmental health-related research. The award provides funds for Postma to prepare and record self-paced lectures for the virtual classroom; teach and present at the annual workshop in June; and provide assistance with recruiting workshop participants and event coordination for the 2026 annual workshop, which will be hosted at WSU Spokane.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health, Office of the Director
“Prenatal and Early Childhood Pathways to Health (PATHWAYS)”
Asthma, allergies, and mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and ADHD are among the most common chronic health problems affecting American children. Evidence has increasingly shown that pregnant women’s exposure to outdoor air pollution, everyday chemicals such as those used in plastics, and stress can affect fetal development and later child health problems. This award continues funding for the PATHWAYS study, which integrates three major cohort studies of pregnant women and their children to learn how pregnancy exposures affect child neurodevelopment and airway health. As part of this project, Dr. Prasad’s laboratory will provide bioanalytical support to the principal investigators at the University of Washington.

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.

Bhagwat Prasad (PI) – College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of California – Los Angeles/National Institutes of Health; Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
“PBPK modeling of dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU) and dimethandrolone (DMA) and steroid bioanalysis”
This subcontract provides renewal funding for WSU researchers to contribute to a project to test dimethandrolone undecanoate (DMAU), an investigational male contraceptive. DMAU has been administered by mouth and via intramuscular injection to 250 healthy men, with half-lives measured in the 12-24-hour range for oral dosing and weeks to months range for intramuscular injection. The WSU team will develop a physiologically based pharmacokinetic model to help better understand how DMAU and its active metabolite DMA are absorbed, distributed, metabolized, and excreted in humans. In addition, they will provide consultation to the Endocrine and Metabolic Research Laboratory for the development, refinement, and improvement of steroid assays for clinical studies conducted by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at UCLA’s Lundquist Institute.

Ka’imi Sinclair (PI) – College of Nursing
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences/US Department for Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health
“Ājjmuurur Baamḷe Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) program”
This subaward provides additional funding for WSU to work with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) to implement and evaluate a diabetes self-management education and support program targeted to Marshallese Pacific Islanders living in the US. Marshallese Pacific Islanders have some of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the world, with estimates ranging from 20 to 50 percent as compared to 9.4 percent in the overall US population and 4 percent worldwide. A recent needs assessment involving Marshallese participants completed by the researchers shows that fewer than 10 percent reported adhering to diabetes self-management recommendations and more than 54 percent had uncontrolled blood glucose levels. To reduce disparities in type 2 diabetes management in Marshallese communities, researchers at UAMS and WSU culturally adapted the standard Diabetes Self-Management and Support program to be family-centered and culturally appropriate for the Marshallese community. They will implement this 10-week adapted program at sites in Arkansas, Hawaii, and Washington State, with a goal of recruiting at least 300 Marshallese with type 2 diabetes along with one family member for each participant over a three-year period.

Crystal Smith (PI); Thomas May – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham/National Institutes of Health; National Human Genome Research Institute
“Racial Contexts for Trusted Sources of Information”
Participation in genomic screening and research are often lower among populations whose historical interactions with the biomedical research community and with broader social institutions have fostered distrust, such as African Americans. This contributes to racial disparities as biomedical and health science research findings are based predominantly on white individuals. This subaward provides supplemental funding for a project to predict the occurrence and progression of 15 common chronic diseases through polygenic risk scores (see above description for PI Thomas May). As part of that study, the investigators conducted focus groups with African American and white participants of the Alabama Genomic Health Initiative to learn about their hopes, concerns, and attitudes toward communication and information sources in the context of genomic research. Preliminary results indicate vastly different sources of trusted information between African American and white participants. This supplement provides funds to recruit additional participants from across the U.S. for these focus groups. The results of this study will enhance future genomic research by contributing to the recruitment infrastructure necessary to fully diversify participant demographics. Research gathered from this data will ultimately improve applicability of genomic testing in historically underserved populations and reduce racial disparities in public health.

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 continuing 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.

Éva 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 award represents an increase in funding for a study aimed at unraveling 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.

Mark VanDam (PI) – Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
University of Washington/National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication
“Literacy Development in Preschoolers with Hearing Loss”
Only 56 percent of children with hearing loss in elementary school and only 44 percent in high school are reading at grade-level. The literacy gap between children with hearing loss and children with normal hearing can be observed early: preschoolers and kindergarteners with hearing loss score significantly lower on early literacy measures than children with normal hearing. This subaward continues WSU’s role in an NIH-funded study to identify the mechanisms that underlie literacy development in the preschool years for children with hearing loss. Findings from this study will help increase the researchers’ theoretical understanding of the impact of hearing loss on early literacy development and may ultimately lead to new interventions to improve literacy outcomes for children with hearing loss. WSU’s contribution to this University of Washington-led study is to lead data collection at the Hearing Oral Program of Excellence (HOPE School) site based at the WSU Health Sciences Spokane campus. In addition, WSU investigator Mark VanDam will assist with the interpretation and dissemination of the study.