WSU Spokane to establish Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience

Rendering of exterior of institute.
Architectural rendering of the front of the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience.

By Addy Hatch, WSU News

Washington State University Health Sciences Spokane will join nonprofit Team Gleason and community partners to target innovative care and cures for brain disease through the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience.

The Gleason Institute is expected to open in Spokane in the second half of 2019.

Daryll DeWald, chancellor of WSU Health Sciences Spokane, announced the project on Tuesday.

“The Gleason Institute will have WSU researchers working collaboratively with health care providers from St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute, Providence Health Care, MultiCare, and patients to bridge the gaps between care and potential treatments of neurodegenerative diseases,” he said.

This class of diseases includes Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s and other diseases. Together, these conditions affect millions of Americans and account for billions of dollars in health care costs each year.

Community partners include Avista, the Health Sciences & Services Authority of Spokane County (HSSA), Providence, St. Luke’s, MultiCare, the City of Spokane and the University District.

Steve Gleason, a football star at WSU and in the NFL, was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. He founded the nonprofit Team Gleason and through his guidance, Team Gleason is the leader in developing and providing assistive equipment and technologies for people with ALS. The organization has partnered with leading tech giants, passed federal legislation, and opened a residence that is equipped with automation for up to 18 people living with the disease. Team Gleason continues to push the envelope on what is possible for people with ALS, neuromuscular injuries, and other degenerative conditions.

The goals of the Gleason Institute are expected to include:

  • The Clinical Research and Care Unit — focusing on motor and cognitive therapy and supporting clinical trials of new medications or treatments;
  • The Assistive Technology and Smart Home Center — for patient exposure, training, and the advancement of augmented reality, virtual reality, brain‑machine interfaces and prosthetic devices;
  • The Discovery Research Unit — including laboratories and shared facilities for scientists and support staff.

“I’m honored that my alma mater, Washington State University, is committed to helping us further our mission of helping people live productively and purposefully, despite ALS or other diseases,” Gleason said in a statement. “I am also grateful that so many partners have come together to help achieve this comprehensive vision. It is my goal that the Institute will advance leading edge technology, while gaining valuable information that will help unravel the mysteries of ALS, and all brain diseases.”

The institute will be located initially in a building at 325 E. Sprague Avenue owned by Avista Development and leased by WSU Health Sciences Spokane. The location is at the south end of the new University District Gateway Bridge, expanding WSU’s mission of health education, research and care into what is expected to become a vibrant South Campus community in coming years.

The Avista Foundation and HSSA have each contributed substantially toward the initiative. That initial sponsorship will allow for the hiring of key personnel and initiation of Institute activities as WSU takes steps to establish the Gleason Institute within the university structure. Fundraising is under way to expand operations, complete building renovations and launch research and patient‑care operations.

WSU Health Sciences expects to bring additional partners into the project as it develops, ultimately building a world‑class institute that will make profound changes in the care and diagnosis and ultimately the treatments of brain diseases.


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