SPOKANE – WSU Spokane recently hired WSU alumnus Kenneth Roberts as director for the WWAMI Basic Medical Education
Program, a five-state collaborative medical school partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho.

Roberts will start his new position on Feb. 1. He will be responsible for administering a first-year medical curriculum at WSU Spokane, which became a new WWAMI site after the state legislature funded the program in 2007. The first cohort of 20 medical students will begin their studies in the fall of 2008.

“Medical education joins our strong programs in nursing, pharmacy, behavioral health, and health policy and administration,” said Brian Pitcher, chancellor of WSU Spokane and vice provost for WSU health sciences system wide. “We are delighted to have a scientist of Ken’s stature joining our other health sciences researchers as we continue to build a center for research into tomorrow’s problems, and the education of tomorrow’s health care teams.”

Roberts comes to WSU Spokane from the University of Minnesota, where he is an associate professor in the departments of Urologic Surgery and Integrative Biology and Physiology. Throughout his fifteen-year career at the University of Minnesota Medical School, he has held progressively responsible positions in teaching, research and administration, including director of the Program in Human Anatomy Education and director of basic research at the Department of Urologic Surgery.

In 2004, the Minnesota Medical Foundation honored him with the Outstanding Medical School Teacher Award in Basic Science.

Roberts’ primary research interest is in sperm maturation, function and fertilization with application to male infertility and contraception. His recent research studies have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Wyeth Research. Roberts and other research-intensive faculty being hired to the WWAMI Spokane program are expected to significantly enhance the biomedical research conducted at WSU Spokane.

“I’m very excited to help establish this new WWAMI site, bringing first-year medical education to Spokane,” said Roberts. “I also look forward to continuing my research program at Washington State University, and to the opportunity to collaborate with the biomedical research community in Spokane.”

Roberts holds a doctorate in biochemistry from WSU. He serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Andrology and is a member of the Society for the Study of Reproduction, the American Society of Andrology, the Society for Basic Urologic Research and the Academy of Medical Educators, among others.

About WWAMI and WSU Health Sciences
The WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) Program makes medical education accessible to students in the five-state region through decentralization and the sharing of existing facilities and personnel. WWAMI students take a first-year basic medical science curriculum at existing state universities, spend their second year at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and receive clinical education at sites across all five states.

WSU was one of the original WWAMI partners. At WSU Pullman, in a joint program with the University of Idaho, students learn in a class of only 38 students, receiving individual attention from world-class faculty and seasoned physicians, and building close relationships with their peers. A new cohort of 20 medical students will begin their studies at WSU Spokane in the fall of 2008, thanks to funding from the legislature received in the 2007 session.

WSU Spokane is home to WSU’s system-wide Division of Health Sciences, and to professional and graduate studies and research in pharmacy, nursing, health policy and administration, exercise physiology and metabolism, and other health professions and sciences.

Spokane, the largest regional medical center between Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul, offers students many opportunities for hands-on professional, clinical and research experience in an urban setting with small-town quality of life.