SPOKANE – The WSU Faculty Senate has approved the creation of a center designed to turn more of the university’s alcohol and drug addiction research into therapies available to consumers.
John Roll, director of WSU’s Program of Excellence in the Addictions in Spokane, says the Translational Addiction Research Center will link basic science researchers at the university’s Pullman, Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses with clinical professors at WSU Spokane.
“This will help us work more as a team,” Roll said, with the goal of creating projects that are attractive to private funders. “I think it’s likely to help us get more outside research money.”
Barbara Sorg, the director of the WSU Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program in Pullman, agrees. “This will help us push research that will see benefits sooner,” she said.
Sorg and Roll say the new center’s focus is more in line with what outside funding agencies like the National Institute on Drug Abuse are looking for. They say the people who write the checks want to know that basic and clinical researchers are talking to each other.
Sorg expects the new center will serve as a catalyst that encourages scientists used to focusing on their own projects to collaborate with others.
“This is exciting for researchers,” Sorg said. “It will help us expand, to make more of what we have going on.” She says the center will promote regular meetings between faculty that don’t ordinarily have contact with each other.
Roll says the new center will also provide a good teaching opportunity.
“The biggest advantage is its training potential for students,” he said. “They can get that early training in basic science labs, then use what they learn there and get a more real world experience later on.”
Sorg says the new center will use WSU’s Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane as a model. Since it opened in 2004, the sleep center has become well-known nationally for its cutting-edge research.
“We hope for the growth and prestige that it has earned,” Sorg said. “And if we can get that, we hope to attract additional researchers.”
Sorg and Roll say the new center won’t cost the university any new money because it will use existing faculty. They will serve as its co-directors, at least for now.