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$10 million grant to study disease in native populations

By Doug Nadvornick, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Buchwald-webSPOKANE, Wash. – A Washington State University researcher has received a $10 million grant to work with American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities to reduce health risks related to high blood pressure.

Dedra Buchwald, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, will use the National Institutes of Health grant to create one of two Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention. The other center will be at Michigan State University.

Engaging communities, honoring values

Buchwald and co-investigator Spero Manson, University of Colorado Denver, plan to engage community members at all levels of the research process. The native communities experience elevated rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and stroke, and prevention efforts focus on blood pressure control.

“Our approach harnesses technologies available in the settings where people live, work and obtain healthcare,” the colleagues write. These technologies include “electronic medical records, text messaging, online grocery shopping apps, wearable physical activity monitors and home blood pressure monitors.”

Their goal is to create new scientific collaborations and enhance existing relationships with healthcare researchers who work with these populations. The work will promote “scientifically rigorous, culturally informed” investigations that respond to community needs and honor community values.

“This is important work that resonates with WSU’s historic land-grant mission,” said John Roll, senior vice chancellor for WSU Health Sciences Spokane.

Serving underrepresented populations

The grant was announced this week by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the NIH. WSU’s share is scheduled to be $10 million over five years, although an NIH spokeswoman said funding is dependent on what the U.S. Congress authorizes.

Buchwald is the founder and director of the Initiative for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH), a WSU program dedicated to conducting transdisciplinary research, education and training to improve the health and well-being of underserved populations in Washington and across the U.S. The program moved to WSU Spokane from the University of Washington last year.

“The successful grant from Dr. Buchwald is emblematic of the grants her renowned public health research group will continue to bring to Spokane,” said WSU Health Sciences Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown.

“I’m thrilled that our faculty are leading cutting-edge research projects that will have such a real impact on peoples’ lives,” said Floyd College Founding Dean John Tomkowiak.

The center will benefit from a multidisciplinary team of researchers from across the nation, including WSU faculty members in Seattle, Spokane and Pullman: Ka’imi Sinclair, Clemma Muller and Sean Murphy of the College of Nursing and Amanda Boyd of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.


Dedra Buchwald, WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, 206-708-8622,



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