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Cannabis research center established

Cannabis plants.Early efforts in cannabis research at WSU have now grown into a full, multi-disciplinary research center with nearly 100 scientists working on a diverse range of cannabis-related projects. More than a dozen CAS faculty across chemistry, sociology, psychology, criminal justice, and political science are affiliated with the newly christened Center for Cannabis Policy, Research and Outreach, or CCPRO. » More …

Leveraging the secrets of hibernation to treat diabetes

Grizzly bears.WSU evolutionary biologist Joanna Kelley studies genetic adaptation to extreme environments: tropical fish that thrive in waters thick with hydrogen sulfide; an Antarctic midge which can survive brutally cold temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius; and now, the charismatic grizzly bear, a species that is insulin-resistant—a metabolic state similar to diabetes in humans—during hibernation but insulin-sensitive during its active season. » More …

Workplace protocols impact overall behavior

A person working at a laptop.Employer COVID‑19 safety measures influenced worker precautions even when they were not on the clock, according to a new study led by WSU psychology professor Tahira Probst.

Researchers found workplace cultures that adopted COVID‑19 prevention measures, such as daily health checks and encouraging sick workers to stay home, resulted in less “sickness presenteeism” or going places when feeling ill. The effect was found both inside and outside of work – meaning fewer employees with » More …

Seeds of economic health disparities

ndigenous adult man on typical wooden canoe chopped from a single tree navigating murky waters of Ecuadorian Amazonian primary jungle.No billionaires live among the Tsimane people of Bolivia, although some are a bit better off than others. These subsistence communities on the edge of the Amazon also have fewer chronic health problems linked to the kind of dramatic economic disparity found in industrialized Western societies.

“The connection between inequality and health is not as straightforward as what you would see in an industrialized population,” said Aaron Blackwell,  associate professor of anthropology and lead researcher on a study » More …

WSU research behind potential Alzheimer’s drug

Leen Kawas and Joe Harding.It was 1991 and medicinal chemist Joe Harding was in his lab researching potential new options for relieving high blood pressure. Anomalies kept showing up in his lab tests, and if they meant what he thought they might, he and his research partner, WSU psychology professor John (Jay) Wright, were on the brink of a different breakthrough.

“I kept getting phone calls from Joe, and on each one he was more excited,” recalls Wright, who at the time was » More …

Compliance with CDC guidelines: what makes a difference?

Washing hands.Until there is a vaccine or effective treatments in place for COVID-19, public health experts are recommending preventative health behaviors such social distancing and wearing facial coverings in public to help stem the spread of the disease. But not everyone can or will enact these prevention behaviors.

Based on her lab’s prior work linking economic stressors (such as job insecurity and financial strain) with workplace safety behaviors, Tahira Probst, professor of psychology and an expert in occupational health » More …

Interdisciplinary research on COVID-19 impact

Mother holding sleeping baby.Fifteen faculty and graduate student researchers from multiple colleges and campuses across the University recently joined forces to form the WSU COVID‑19 Infant, Maternal, and Family Health Research Collaborative.

Spanning a variety of disciplines, including biological sciences, anthropology, and psychology, the collective already has a half dozen studies lined up to address critical questions related to the impact of COVID‑19 on the health of mothers, babies, and families. » More …

Research opens a new approach to mental illness

Silhouette of someone on a bench with hands held to head.Some of the most common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, might not be disorders at all, according to a recent paper by WSU biological anthropologists.

The researchers propose a new approach to mental illness that would be informed by human evolution, noting that modern psychology, and in particular its use of drugs like antidepressants, has largely failed to reduce the prevalence of mental disorders. For example, the global prevalence of » More …

NIH protein biotechnology program renewed with $2.3M grant

Doctoral student Kaitlin Witherell working in a laboratory.The National Institute of General Medical Sciences at the National Institutes of Health has awarded the WSU NIH Protein Biotechnology Training Program $2.3 million over the next five years to support training of Ph.D. graduate students. Renewing this competitive grant brings the total NIH investment into the program to more than $10.4 million since it began in 1989 as one of the first nine NIH training grant programs in biotechnology.

This long-running training grant provides essential support for interdisciplinary research and graduate » More …

Genetic mutation drives tumor regression in Tasmanian devils

Tasmanian devil.Genes and other genetic variations that appear to be involved in cancerous tumors shrinking in Tasmanian devils have been discovered by Washington State University scientists.

The research is an important first step toward understanding what is causing devil facial tumor disease — a nearly 100 percent fatal and contagious form of cancer — to go away in a small percentage of Tasmanian devils. Indirectly, it could have implications for treating cancer in humans and other mammals as well. » More …