Spokane has received another boost to its health sciences research efforts – a nearly $2 million grant to Washington State University’s College of Pharmacy to recruit researchers and build out its laboratory.
The money announced Thursday from the Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County is its single largest grant, said Susan Ashe, executive director. The publicly funded agency was established in 2007 by the Washington Legislature and invests in health sciences research.
The organization has funded $5.6 million in direct research and infrastructure grants, officials said. To date, HSSA has awarded $3.4 million to WSU Spokane.
This year’s award is “a huge chunk, but it’s a good investment,” said Nancy Isserlis, HSSA board chair.
“HSSA’s commitment has had a tremendous return on its investment so far for them, for WSU and for this community, and we expect the same for this round of recruitments,” said Gary Pollack, dean of the WSU College of Pharmacy. “These funds will help WSU Spokane continue to attract top talent to the campus and to fund critical core laboratory infrastructure required by these researchers.”
The announcement came a day ahead of WSU Spokane’s Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building grand opening today. The College of Pharmacy is relocating there from WSU’s Pullman campus.
The grant funds will help with startup packages for three additional researchers WSU has recruited:
• Jiyue Zhu, another Penn State University researcher. His work focuses on a human gene that “plays an important role in a variety of normal physiologic processes and in disease, including stem cell self-renewal, cellular aging and cancer,” according to the HSSA.
• Scott Landfear, recruited from Oregon Health and Science University. He will serve as vice chairman for pharmaceutical sciences. Landfear’s lab studies membrane transport proteins in parasites and how parasites travel through a body.
• Salah Ahmed from the University of Toledo, Ohio. Ahmed’s research focuses on the development of natural products, specifically an ingredient found in green tea, as therapeutic agents for rheumatoid arthritis.