PULLMAN, Wash. – Muscle failure is at the heart of heart disease and other debilitating ailments. WSU is a partner in the Washington Center for Muscle Biology (WCMB), which pursues research and graduate training with funding primarily from donors and industry.
 
“Heart failure kills five million people a year in the U.S., muscle wasting disease affects more than 50 percent of the elderly and muscular dystrophy is one of the most devastating diseases in existence,” said Dan Rodgers, center director. “We have an enormous number of scientists, with a vast array of expertise, all working in the field of muscle biology. Together we can achieve so much more.
 
“Our main goal is to become the most recognized center for muscle biology research,” said Rodgers, a muscle developmental biologist and associate professor of animal sciences at Washington State University. “With more than 70 muscle biologists already involved in the center, we are close to achieving that goal.”
 
With federal funding at an all-time low, the WCMB is supported through its own efforts.
 
“The center was established with absolutely no university money whatsoever and is being built primarily upon donor support and industry investments,” Rodgers said.
 
The multi-institutional center focuses on development of new therapies for muscle-related diseases, research and graduate training at Washington State University and the University of Washington, as well as collaboration between faculty and industry professionals.
 
Fernando Santana, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington, is assistant director.
 
“This partnership is about enhancing our research programs, training tomorrow’s scientists, facilitating discovery and developing novel treatments,” Rodgers said. “Exchanging information and cooperative research is at the heart of our mission and, collectively, will enable our members to be far more successful.”
 
By working together and collaborating across scientific specialties, Rodgers said members of the center will be more effective. Potential members include not only faculty, but also students and industry professionals.
 
The center is committed to exchanging knowledge between WSU, UW and the University of Idaho, as well as nonprofit research institutes and biotech companies. If one member has extensive knowledge in a particular area of science, that knowledge can be applied to another scientist’s expertise to further the collective effort, Rodgers said.
 
In addition to the exchange of knowledge between academics and industry professionals, the center allows for graduate students to train and conduct research alongside seasoned muscle biologists.