WSU Health Sciences appoints vice chancellor for research

Closeup of Celestina Barbosa-Leiker.
Celestina Barbosa-Leiker

SPOKANE, Wash. – Washington State University Health Sciences announced today it has named Celestina Barbosa‑Leiker, Ph.D., as its vice chancellor for research.

Currently an associate professor, associate dean for research, and interim executive associate dean in the WSU College of Nursing, Barbosa‑Leiker brings more than 10 years of research experience to the position. Under her leadership, the College of Nursing jumped to 27th in rank among U.S. nursing schools in terms of NIH‑funded research, an improvement from 45thplace in 2017. She starts Oct. 1 in her new role with WSU Health Sciences.

“With her unique blend of research leadership, experience as a faculty member and peer leader, and methodological expertise and statistical mentoring, we are thrilled that Barbosa‑Leiker has agreed to take on this role,” said WSU Health Sciences Vice President and Chancellor Daryll DeWald. “Her recent election to membership in the Washington State Academy of Sciences illuminates her success as a researcher and is a natural fit with the position. I have no doubt she will make immediate impacts in growing our already-robust research portfolio.”

Washington State University is a public research university that delves into many different aspects of human health. University researchers are intent on discovering new approaches to slow the onset and progression of disease, making health care more accessible and advancing solutions that reduce costs.

Annual grants and contract awards dedicated to research at WSU Health Sciences grew to $32.5 million in fiscal year 2018 and continue to increase.

To ensure continued growth and assure the research needs of WSU Health Sciences’ faculty, staff and students are met in perpetuity, Barbosa‑Leiker will work closely with deans, associate deans of research in nursing, pharmacy, and medicine, and the associate vice president for health sciences research.

Barbosa‑Leiker’s primary research investigates gender differences in opioid use and substance use in pregnant women. The results of these studies help to better educate health care providers and pregnant women, inform maternal and infant health policy, and improve standards of care.

“Our researchers are working toward bettering the lives of all people, with a focus on the underserved. It makes the health sciences campus and community an exciting place to work,” Barbosa‑Leiker said. “I am truly honored to serve the university in this new position. I look forward to seeing the phenomenal discoveries and scientific applications that come from our researchers.”

Barbosa‑Leiker has been on faculty with the College of Nursing for eight years. She is the director for the Program of Excellence in Addictions Research and a member of the Committee on Cannabis Research and Outreach at WSU. In addition to opiate withdrawal, her current areas of expertise include cannabis use in pregnant and parenting women, psychological stress, psychometrics, longitudinal data analysis, and clinical trial data.

She has methodological expertise in psychometrics and longitudinal latent variable modeling. She serves as a statistical mentor for American Indian/Alaska Native faculty through an NIH grant. She is a member of numerous professional associations, including the American Psychological Association, and her research has led to nearly 90 publications. In 2012, she was awarded with the Washington State University College of Nursing Excellence in Research award and in 2016 she was awarded the Washington State University College of Nursing Excellence in Commitment to Diversity award.

Media contact:

  • Kim Papich, WSU Health Sciences, 509‑368‑6671, c) 509‑202‑3955,

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