PULLMAN, Wash.–James Krueger, professor and chair of Washington State University’s Department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology, and Physiology, has been awarded a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study sleep responses to viral infections.
The award comes via the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development within NIH.
“Dr. Krueger and his colleagues are certainly among the all-time most significant recruitments to WSU’s scientific and administrative community,” said Borje Gustafsson, dean of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Not only is he among the finest researchers in his field of study, but he brings with him an extraordinary ability to effectively manage people and resources, too.”
Krueger is an internationally renowned neurobiologist. The focus of his research group’s effort is to examine the important role of sleep as a fundamental part of neurobiology. Krueger and colleagues were the first in the world to describe the relationship of sleep in the infection process. They have identified a variety of neurochemicals that are produced by the body that induce sleep.
“We all know that when you get sick your body wants you to sleep more,” explained Krueger. “What we don’t understand well is what triggers that response. In other words, what molecular triggers are there? Where are they produced? How do they affect the brain? These are important fundamental questions we need to answer.”
Using mice and an influenza virus as a model, Krueger’s group will investigate certain chemicals called cytokines produced in the lungs. Cytokine production by the lungs has been shown to increase significantly during infection. “Now we want to determine how increased cytokine production by the lungs affects the brain. We’ll also be looking at the role of an important enzyme, nitric oxide synthase, in the neurobiology of sleep during infection.”
Since coming to WSU in July, Krueger’s eight-member research group has attracted an average of more than $1 million a month in research funding. In August, Krueger was awarded a seven-year Sen. Jacob Javits Award in Neurosciences valued at $2 million. Currently, the laboratory has more than $4.6 million in scientific research grants currently contracted.
“We’ll be adding two more post-doctoral researchers soon,” said Krueger. “One will likely be a post-M.D. and the other a post-Ph.D.” Krueger’s group is already made up of five members holding M.D. degrees and two holding both M.D.s and Ph.Ds.