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New chief studies everyday sleep needs

The new WSU-affiliated chief of sleep research briefly presented his vision for the work at a press conference in Spokane on Aug. 18. At the same event, it was announced that WSU sleep research received $3.5 million in federal funding, on top of appropriations of $1.5 million and $50,000 earlier received.

Dr. Gregory Belenky, a colonel in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and former director of neuroscience at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, recently was named to head the Spokane Alliance for Medical Research sleep research initiative. SAMR is a collaboration among private and state colleges and universities, medical health service and research centers in Spokane, and public and private biotechnology research and development centers and institutes in Spokane and the Inland Northwest.

“We have scored a real coup in attracting a researcher of Dr. Belenky’s stature to Spokane,” said Dennis Dyck, director of the SAMR and associate dean for research at WSU Spokane. “His work, in collaboration with the excellent sleep clinics here, will serve as the core to attract other sleep researchers to town.”

“The vision for the sleep research initiative is to move beyond the laboratory to study the relationship of sleep to performance in normal and clinical populations going about their everyday lives,” Belenky said. “There is great demand for this sort of research and very little capacity to conduct it. We will be highly competitive in funding for this critical research area.”

Sleep research was selected by the SAMR steering committee as its first focus area in part because of the opportunity to build on and collaborate with a strong team of competitively funded researchers who study sleep at WSU Pullman, said Dyck.

James Krueger leads that team in examining biochemical regulation of sleep, connections between sleep and infectious disease, and brain organization as it relates to the sleep function. Krueger is a WSU professor in the department of Veterinary and Comparative Anatomy, Pharmacology and Physiology.

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