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Satellite map showing smoke covering the entire state of Washington on September 5, 2017
Summer 2018

In the hazy days of summer

It’s no secret that wildfires are on the rise throughout the western United States. Come summer, the plumes of gray-brown smoke seem to arrive weeks earlier and often linger well into fall. The smoke irritates sinuses, clings to clothes, and despite your efforts, seeps into homes and cars like an ever-present smoldering campfire.

On those haze-filled days, people often wonder, “Is it safe for the kids to play outside? To hold a neighborhood BBQ? What about those with asthma or other respiratory problems?”

Engineers at the Washington State University Laboratory for Atmospheric Research (LAR) are helping provide answers through a powerful computer modeling system … » More …

Iraqi students in Pullman
Spring 2018

No barriers to a better world

Eman Ibrahim started volunteering in Iraq’s first cancer support center in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil when she was 18, providing psychological support and reading to patients. It was satisfying work for the energetic young woman, if heart-wrenching at times.

Yet, when the 21-year-old Kurdish medical student from Hawler Medical University became head of the Erbil Hub center last year, she wanted to do even more to help—and that meant learning new ideas. Last July, she got her opportunity with the Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program.

The highly competitive scholarship program brings 100 Iraqi college students to the United States for … » More …

Spring 2018

What dreams may come

If Shakespeare lived today, the playwright would surely be prescribed a sleep study. With his many references to sleep walking, apnea, insomnia, and nightmares, you can almost see the baggy-eyed bard sitting in his nightcap writing by candlelight.

O sleep, gentle sleep! Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, that thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down?he bemoans in Henry IV, Part 2.

It’s a familiar lament to all those who have lain awake yearning for sleep’s healing balm. But there the comparison ends.

While Shakespeare’s restless, seventeenth-century nights were lit with a single amber flame, today’s insomniacs are usually staring at … » More …

Clock with microbes
Spring 2018

Do microbes dream of circadian sleep?

Anticipation is sweet. In anticipation of the blooming light, plants unfurl their leaves. For many marine creatures, rising to the sea surface as the moon rises is the anticipatory signal that food is available. In our gut, too, microbes anticipate dinnertime because microorganisms have internal clocks that sound the dinner bell.

“And here’s where it gets interesting,” says Hans Van Dongen, a professor of psychology at Washington State University Spokane and internationally known sleep expert.

“The biological clock those organisms have and the brain-based clock that humans have are not necessarily in sync. You notice this when you travel to another time zone. … » More …

Stethoscope on a doctor's neck
Winter 2017

Ethics and effectiveness in medicine

“Can you be an effective physician without also being an ethical physician?” That’s the question students in the inaugural class of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University faced for the first time on day two of classes. They’ll revisit it regularly as they make their way towards the MD degree and entry into a profession that has, many bioethicists and physicians believe, an ethic built right into it. To say that there is an ethic internal to medicine is to say that certain kinds of moral responsibilities are built right into what it means to be a part of … » More …

Winter 2017

Medicine to all corners

Washington State University has embarked on one of its most ambitious expansions. The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is carving out its physician-training niche by emphasizing innovation, technology, and the importance of bringing high-quality care to some of the state’s most underserved regions.

 

The request came last spring.

Jim and Linda Bauer have opened their home to visiting symphony musicians, international artists, and others traveling to the Tri-Cities, and community leaders were turning to them again. This time, the Bauers were asked if they’d host a medical student for a weeklong stay at their Richland home.

“We were like, ‘Of course,’” recalls Linda … » More …

Brain illustration
Winter 2017

Short-circuit the stress

Imagine sitting on a park bench waiting for a friend. You’re checking messages on your phone when a noise catches your attention. You look up and suddenly realize it’s a beautiful autumn day. The sun is warm on your skin and a gentle breeze tempers the heat.

From a nearby tree, birds call while a few golden leaves flutter, break loose, and slowly drift to the ground. On the grass, a parade of tiny black ants drags a bread crumb. Traffic passes in the distance. Quiet voices chat and laugh.

The scene is a simple example of mindfulness, and your brain loves it, especially during … » More …

Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen twins dolls by Mattel. Staff photoillustration
Winter 2017

Seeing double

The Washington State Twin Registry is a powerful aid in promoting better health.

 

Glen Duncan is an outlier in an obesogenic environment. While he’s fit and trim, two in three Americans carry too much weight for their own good and are largely sedentary during work and leisure time. It would help if he had a twin to compare himself with. As it is, he studies other twins in the hope of teasing out why some people are drawn to healthy behavior, others not.

Duncan has long been a runner, from high school races to weekend 10Ks. For the past ten years he has practiced … » More …

green tea cup & teapot
Summer 2017

Reading the benefits of tea leaves

Much of what is known, scientifically, about the arthritis-fighting benefits of green tea has in one way or another come from Salah-uddin Ahmed and his research group.

It was Ahmed who helped establish that a phytochemical found in green tea essentially halts the progression of rheumatoid arthritis in lab rats.

It also was Ahmed who helped pinpoint where in the disease’s progression that the phytochemical, known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate or simply EGCG for short, is able to combat further degradation without blocking other cellular functions.

Now, with scientific evidence supporting green tea’s health benefits continuing to pile up, Ahmed hopes the research he and his … » More …