Gleason Institute awards neurodegenerative disease grants

Illustration of a human brain and an accompanying closeup highlighting neurodiseases.

Four research teams have received more than $160,000 in seed grant funding from the WSU Spokane Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience for projects related to neurodegenerative diseases. 

These seed grant awards will advance the Gleason Institute’s goal of supporting research that increases scientists’ understanding of how neurodegenerative disease develops, evaluates the effectiveness of potential new treatments, and develops adaptive technologies to enhance patient and caregiver quality of life.

“These grants will help the chosen researchers lay the groundwork for securing significant external funding for their projects, which will address critical gaps in our knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases,” said Ken Isaacs, director of the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience. “We are excited and proud to support this work and look forward to seeing the progress made over the next year.”

The seed grant proposals that received funding were:

  • “Neuroprotective role of sleep and nicotinamide substrates”

    Principal investigator: Jonathan Wisor, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

    This study will test the hypothesis that sleep reverses oxidative stress in the brain through a process that relies on nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3. A joint effort between researchers in the Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the study will help determine the feasibility of nicotinamide supplementation as a way to reduce brain oxidative stress and protect against neurodegenerative disease. 
  • “Assessment of endocannabinoids in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with ALS for development of an early biomarker”

    Principal investigator: Travis Denton, WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

    The goal of this collaborative project with Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center is to identify biomarkers of ALS in cerebral spinal fluid to speed up diagnosis of the disease, extend the treatment period, and potentially lengthen the survival of individuals with ALS.
  • “Quantification of neck neuromuscular function in people with ALS”

    Principal investigator: Anita Vasavada, WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

    Led by a team of investigators from WSU and Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center, this study will objectively measure neck strength and muscle activity in people with ALS, an understudied area that will yield new knowledge that could be used to improve assistive technologies such as head-controlled wheelchairs. 
  • “A new innovative adaptive technology to improve bowel function and continence in individuals with neurodegenerative disease”

    Principal investigators: Glen House & Greg Carter, Providence St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center

    The St. Luke’s team will collaborate with WSU Spokane research service center staff to develop a medical device that will help individuals with neurodegenerative diseases who are impacted by abnormal bowel function. This novel technology will have the potential to improve the quality of life of individuals with neurodegenerative disease and their caregivers. 

Providing one year of funding support, the awards represent the first-ever round of seed grant funding for the Gleason Institute. 

Established in 2019 in partnership with Team Gleason, Providence Health & Services, St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Medical Center, and other stakeholders, the Steve Gleason Institute for Neuroscience focuses its efforts on improving the diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life of people with neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and Parkinson’s disease. More information on the Gleason Institute is available at

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