SPOKANE – As part of the expanding focus on health sciences at WSU Spokane, Weihang Chai, recently joined the research faculty of WWAMI Spokane — the university’s medical education program—as an assistant professor.
 
Chai comes to WSU Spokane from Texas Woman’s University, where she was an honored research fellow and assistant professor of biology. Her research focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind the growth of cancer cells, especially the mechanism that regulates telomeres (regions of repetitive DNA at the ends of chromosomes). As the principal investigator of several studies on telomere maintenance, Chai brings demonstrated research ability to WWAMI Spokane.
 
“WSU Spokane provides a fine opportunity to advance scholarship aimed at accelerating the eradication of cancer,” said Chai.
 
Chai received a doctoral degree in molecular biology from Cornell University and completed post-doctoral studies at both Cornell and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, focusing on molecular biology, genetics, and cell biology.
 
WWAMI is an enduring partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and the states of Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho that make medical education accessible to Northwest students through decentralizing education and sharing existing facilities and personnel. WSU Spokane became a new WWAMI site after the state legislature funded the program in 2007; its inaugural class began their studies this August.
 
The WWAMI Spokane program is coordinated with the Regional Initiative in Dental Education (RIDE) dental program. The unique and interdisciplinary training these programs offer demonstrates the increasing importance of health sciences education to WSU Spokane and Spokane itself.