Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Health Sciences

Winter 2003

What is this drug, and what does it do?

On a typical day, a dozen pharmacists, physicians, and other health care practitioners will call the Drug Information Center (DIC) in Spokane for some help.

“The questions run from easy ones we can answer right away to ones where three days from now we still don’t have an answer,” says Danial E. Baker, DIC director and a pharmacy professor at WSU Spokane.

The center, which was started in 1973 and is primarily funded by grants and contracts, also serves as a teaching laboratory for up to four pharmacy students at a time. Students in their final year of pharmacy school spend six weeks … » More …

Winter 2003

A new method for measuring heart risk

Almost 500,000 people in the U.S. die each year from coronary artery disease, the most common type of heart disease. Half of those people didn’t even know they were at risk or had any symptoms of the condition, according to the American Heart Association.

This could change, however, with the adoption of more accurate ways to identify who has the disease, instead of relying on less consistent risk factors like cholesterol levels.

During the past 10 years, more than 1,000 Washington State residents have participated in the Spokane Heart Study, which might do just that—change the way coronary artery disease is identified. Every two years, … » More …

Fall 2003

Software system enables precise radiation treatment for tumors

Seldom do software engineers get to see their work save lives. But new software developed by Washington State University alumnus Thanos Etmektzoglou is making a difference for cancer patients.

For the past 13 years Etmektzoglou has worked at Varian Medical Systems in Palo Alto, California, to develop a software control system that allows for more precise delivery of radiation to cancerous tumors.

Radiation is used in cancer treatment, because it more negatively affects cancerous cells than healthy ones. Doctors work to provide sufficient radiation to kill the cancer cells, while keeping injury to the surrounding healthy cells and organs at a minimum. With some cancers, … » More …

Fall 2003

Designing for dementia

A common clothesline can make a difference in preserving the dignity and self identity of Alzheimer’s patients, says Keith Diaz Moore, Washington State University professor of architecture and landscape architecture.

At Sedgewood Commons in Falmouth, Maine, a backyard clothesline engages residents of the 96-bed care facility in daily household tasks. It also represents how designers now are considering cultural aspects in building new and remodeled assisted-living facilities, explains Diaz Moore. “An outdoor yard, including a clothesline, historically has been an important part of New England family culture. Here it helps promote resident autonomy, and the ritual of maintaining the landscape encourages awareness and orientation.”

Diaz … » More …

Summer 2003

Minding her B's & T's

In the fast paced world of immunological research, it’s not your p’s and q’s you have to mind, but your b’s and t’s. That’s B cells and T cells, two of the main players in the complex orchestra that makes up your immune system. B. Paige Lawrence, assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, keeps track of both in her research into how the environmental contaminant dioxin affects immune system function but spends most of her time with T cells.

Dioxins are the byproducts of many industrial processes, including the incineration of municipal and medical wastes and of plastics. While they are destroyed by heat, … » More …

Spring 2003

World health care: "Many countries have their priorities wrong"

“Evidence shows that the family medicine model is the most cost effective and provides the best care for most people.” —Dr. Robert Higgins

If you are sick enough and have enough money, you can get very good medical care in most countries. Sadly, however, many nations fail to meet even the basic health needs of their people.

These are the observations of Washington State University pharmacy graduate and retired U.S. Navy physician, Robert Higgins. The former president of the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA) has visited 53 countries and witnessed health care practices firsthand in many of them.

“Many countries have their priorities … » More …

Spring 2003

Smoke & asthma

For as long as Jami Hinshaw can remember, she has coughed, sneezed, sniffled, and felt miserable every September. When she was nine, the Spokane native and WSU alum was diagnosed with asthma.

Last fall, Hinshaw was fighting her usual symptoms, but she was also carrying a portable air quality monitor in a backpack as part of a study to better understand the health effects of agricultural field burning. Researchers from Washington State University are working with their counterparts from the School of Public Health at the University of Washington to examine volunteers’ exposure levels to atmospheric pollutants coming from field burning in the region.

Controversy … » More …

Winter 2001

A better system of braces

“Imagine if you are a patient, the significant difference that decreased pressure is going to make to your comfort level.”

As a child, Dr. Dwight Damon (’62 Zoology) had more than his share of curiosity.

Damon’s father, who taught math and science at Spokane’s West Valley High School, always encouraged him to question and explore everything. “He instilled in me that desire to always find the better solution.”

At Washington State University, encouragement came from zoology professor Herbert Eastlick.

“Herb was my advisor, my mentor, and my friend,” says Damon. “He was constantly challenging us, encouraging everyone to reach their full potential.”

That desire … » More …

Winter 2001

Curing what ails you

IF GARY MEADOWS is right, popping Prozac will do more for you than relieve depression. Meadows’s preliminary data suggest that fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac, inhibits the growth of melanoma tumors in mice.

The Prozac project began about two years ago in collaboration with neurophysiologist Tanja Obradovic, then at Washington State University. Obradovic and Meadows, who is Dorothy O. Kennedy distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Cancer Prevention and Research Center in Spokane, knew that melanoma cells not only make the neurotransmitter serotonin, but also have receptors for it. A receptor is a site on a cell that binds with substances such as … » More …