Spokane, WA – The Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience and its innovative vision for the care and cure of brain (neurodegenerative) disease was on full display at last week’s Biomedical Sciences Symposium, held at the Spokane Convention Center and organized by WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Biomedical Sciences department.

Seminal to the discussion was an introduction to the institute from its interim director, Marcos Frank, Ph.D. He outlined the institute’s “three-legged” approach to addressing neurodegenerative disease, including clinical research and care, new assistive technology and foundational discovery research.

“We’ve only just begun this journey together, but we’ve taken some important steps,” Frank said. “We’ve created the core administration of the institute and identified partners in industry and the greater health care community to assist us in our mission.”

The incidence of neurodegenerative disease, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which former WSU and NFL star Steve Gleason was diagnosed with in 2011, is expected to soar as the population ages. These conditions affect millions of Americans and account for billions of dollars in health care costs each year. This increases the urgency to expand treatment options, develop care innovations and ultimately find a cure.

In January 2019, WSU Health Sciences and Team Gleason announced formal collaboration around the institute.

Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience interim director, Marcos Frank, Ph.D., congratulates the institute’s inaugural fellows, Naomi Chaytor, Ph.D., associate professor, WSU. Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine; Travis Denton, Ph.D., assistant professor, WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences; and Jason Gerstner, Ph.D., research assistant professor, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Frank also announced three inaugural fellows to the institute who will play a pivotal role in researching new treatments for ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases.

  • Travis Denton, Ph.D., assistant professor, WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is researching new drugs that target neurodegenerative disease.
  • Jason Gerstner, Ph.D., research assistant professor, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, is developing new animal models of ALS and related diseases.
  • Naomi Chaytor, Ph.D., associate professor, WSU. Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, will research new technologies that enable neurocognitive assessment in patients with ALS and related diseases.

Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience fellows have access to the institute’s core facilities and support, and each receive $5,000 to bolster their research.

Fundraising for the institute is underway to expand operations, complete building renovations and launch research and patient‑care operations.

WSU Health Sciences and Team Gleason are joined in this collaboration by community partners Avista, Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County (HSSA), Providence Health Care, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, MultiCare, the City of Spokane and the University District.

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