UW News

Health and medicine


October 5, 2021

UW joins USAID’s $125M project to detect emerging viruses with pandemic potential

Showing a bat

To better identify and prevent future pandemics, the University of Washington has become a partner in a five-year global, collaborative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development. The newly launched Discovery & Exploration of Emerging Pathogens – Viral Zoonoses, or DEEP VZN project, has approximately $125 million in anticipated funding and will be led…


September 23, 2021

Video: Arsenic makes these south Puget Sound fish unsafe to eat

Big mouth bass close up

Researchers at the University of Washington and UW Tacoma have been studying arsenic levels in the mud, water and in creatures from lakes in the south Puget Sound area. Eating contaminated fish or snails from these lakes could lead to health risks.


August 16, 2021

New analysis of landmark scurvy study leads to update on vitamin C needs

It was wartime and food was scarce. Leaders of England’s effort to wage war and help the public survive during World War II needed to know: Were the rations in lifeboats adequate for survival at sea? And, among several experiments important for public as well as military heath, how much vitamin C did a person…


July 26, 2021

Scientists model ‘true prevalence’ of COVID-19 throughout pandemic

US map with states represented by hexagons showing COVID-19 infection fatality rate

Two University of Washington scientists have developed a statistical framework that incorporates key COVID-19 data — such as case counts and deaths due to COVID-19 — to model the true prevalence of this disease in the United States and individual states. Their approach, published the week of July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, projects that in the U.S. as many as 60% of COVID-19 cases went undetected as of March 7, 2021, the last date for which the dataset they employed is available.


July 16, 2021

20 UW researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021

Twenty scientists and engineers at the University of Washington are among the 38 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021, according to a July 15 announcement. New members were chosen for “their outstanding record of scientific and technical achievement, and their willingness to work on behalf of the Academy to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.”


July 13, 2021

From ‘distress’ to ‘unscathed’ — mental health of UW students during spring 2020

A table in the living room with a cup of tea, a laptop and a stack of books on top. Behind the table is a couch and a bike

To understand how the UW’s transition to online-only classes affected college students’ mental health in the spring of 2020, UW researchers surveyed 147 UW undergraduates over the 2020 spring quarter.


June 15, 2021

Drug rebates for insurers tied to higher costs for patients, especially the uninsured

Federal agencies that regulate drug pricing and healthcare insurance are concerned that an industry practice of using rebates to lower drug costs for insurers has led to increases in list prices and out-of-pockets costs for patients. To investigate whether patients with or without insurance were paying more because of rebates to insurers, researchers led by…


June 11, 2021

Smartphone camera can illuminate bacteria causing acne, dental plaques

Image of a smartphone that was modified for a scientific experiment.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that uses smartphone-derived images to reveal potentially harmful bacteria on skin and in oral cavities. Their approach can visually identify microbes on skin contributing to acne and slow wound healing, as well as bacteria in the oral cavity that can cause gingivitis and dental plaques.


May 17, 2021

UW’s Dr. Catherine Karr: ‘Major chronic health problems facing children today’ linked to air pollution

Catherine Karr

With evidence of the health hazards facing children from air pollution growing, The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday published a policy statement meant to bring those hazards to light and to encourage and direct policy to improve children’s health. Policy co-author Dr. Catherine Karr, a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Public…


May 14, 2021

$38M set of gifts from Ballmer Group to address behavioral health crisis aims to bolster workforce, resources across Washington through UW-led programs

big green trees frame an empty bench

The University of Washington today announced that the School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center are part of a transformational $38 million set of gifts from Ballmer Group to support a broad, collaborative response to the state’s behavioral health crisis. The gifts aim to address the state of Washington’s serious workforce shortage in the community behavioral health system, in large part by supporting statewide education and training innovations at partner institutions developed through the University of Washington.


April 30, 2021

UW’s new Mobile Health & Outreach Van will serve community and student experience

People around medical van

Getting basic health care to medically underserved populations in Seattle, while providing real-world experience for students hoping to practice in a health care field, takes wheels. Now, through a student-led, interdisciplinary effort by health science departments at the University of Washington, those “wheels” — on the new UW Mobile Health & Outreach Van — are ready.


April 13, 2021

Vaccines debate: ‘Escape variants’ of the coronavirus are a serious future threat

gloved hand holds vial of vaccine

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in many parts of the country — including Washington state where three counties were pushed back to Phase 2 effective Friday — there’s a growing debate between continuing to give both doses of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines close together, or giving them months apart in order to get…


April 7, 2021

Perinatal patients, nurses explain how hospital pandemic policies failed them

Pregnant person

With a lethal, airborne virus spreading fast, hospitals had to change how they treated patients and policies for how caregivers provided that treatment. But for maternity patients and nurses some of those changes had negative outcomes, according to a new University of Washington study. “We found that visitor restrictions and separation policies were harming families…


March 19, 2021

‘A turning point’: UW Population Health Initiative’s pandemic grants changed how the university works

Rainier horizon

A year ago, seemingly overnight, streets emptied, shops boarded up, grocery shelves were cleared, schools closed and the University of Washington led universities nationwide in moving all instruction online. Nearly all of us disappeared inside, stunned and staring out at a world suddenly paralyzed by something we’d only seen in movies or read about in books:…


March 9, 2021

Dr. Anne McTiernan releases memoir, ‘Cured: A Doctor’s Journey from Panic to Peace’

Balancing motherhood and medical school is a challenge, but panic attacks and memories of childhood trauma make the path all the more difficult. With therapy, Dr. Anne McTiernan found her way through. Now she discusses her experiences in an intimate memoir, “Cured: A Doctor’s Journey from Panic to Peace.”


February 25, 2021

Q&A: Race, medicine and the future power of genetic ancestry

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine that they “do not believe that ignoring race will reduce health disparities” but rather that “such an approach is a form of naive ‘color blindness’ that is more likely to perpetuate and potentially exacerbate disparities,” five Black geneticists set out to explain the pitfalls of leaving race…


February 22, 2021

Effective treatment for insomnia delivered in a few short phone calls

Person holding phone

Insomnia — trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early — is a common condition in older adults. Sleeplessness can be exacerbated by osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis causing joint pain. While there are effective therapies for treating insomnia in older adults, many people cannot get the treatment they need because…


February 10, 2021

List of 1,000 inspiring Black scientists includes seven from UW

collage of portraits

Seven University of Washington scientists are included in Cell Mentor’s list of 1,000 inspiring Black scientists, published in December 2020. Cell Mentor is a collaborative resource between Cell Press and Cell Signaling Technology.


February 5, 2021

To counter health impacts of racism, UW School of Nursing establishing Center for Antiracism in Nursing

Systemic racism has for generations undermined the health of individuals and communities across America, a public health crisis that has made the pandemic even more deadly and destructive for people of color. Recognizing that nurses play a central role in and hold major responsibility for the health of individuals and communities hit hard by historic…


January 31, 2021

Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C in your diet

fruit orange

Current advice from the American Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. And that might be true. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University…


January 26, 2021

Anti-poverty policies can reduce reports of child neglect

parents with young child walking in a park

A University of Washington study analyzes how a state’s refundable Earned Income Tax Credit can lead to fewer reports of child neglect, by reducing the financial stress on families.


January 12, 2021

New treatment allows some people with spinal cord injury to regain hand and arm function

A hand picking up a tiny bead

Using physical therapy combined with a noninvasive method of stimulating nerve cells in the spinal cord, University of Washington researchers helped six Seattle area participants regain some hand and arm mobility.


January 8, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines are ‘remarkable achievement,’ but soothing mistrust is necessary to end pandemic

Larry Corey

“Of course, we didn’t put Democrats in the vial; we didn’t put Republicans in the vial,” University of Washington’s Dr. Larry Corey writes in a recent COVID-19 Vaccine Matters blog jointly produced by Johns Hopkins University and the UW. While development of vaccines now being distributed to combat COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are…


December 8, 2020

Policies around pregnancy, birth during pandemic failing both patients and nurses

Molly Altman

As an experienced nurse midwife, whose scientific research focuses on respectful and equitable care during pregnancy and childbirth, the University of Washington’s Molly Altman has been studying pregnancy and childbirth during the pandemic alongside colleagues across the UW and in affected communities. While her work is being distilled into formal studies that will be submitted…


December 3, 2020

UW student volunteers collect, donate devices for equitable online health care

Online access to health care is crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 20 UW undergraduates are part of a nationwide organization collecting used video-enabled devices and donating them to medical facilities for low-income and senior patients.


December 2, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines may not prevent spread of virus, so mask-wearing, other protections still critical

Larry Corey

Excitement and relief over news of vaccines that help prevent people from getting sick, winding up in the hospital or dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are warranted, says University of Washington’s Dr. Larry Corey. But, these messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines may not prevent people from getting infected or spreading the virus….


November 24, 2020

UW public health expert calls on state officials, citizens to defend and rebuild public health agencies

Betty Bekemeier

Even before the pandemic and disagreements over social restrictions recommended by public health officials across the state, public health agencies in Washington were struggling due to a lack of resources. In recent weeks, firings, resignations and death threats targeting local health officials has led to a staffing crisis in the agencies most responsible for local…


Four UW faculty members named AAAS fellows for 2020

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named four University of Washington faculty members as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 24 announcement from the organization. The four are part of a cohort of 489 new fellows for 2020, which were chosen by their peers for “their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.”


November 2, 2020

Video: Free coronavirus testing for UW community open for more enrollment

preparing a COVID-19 test

The Husky Coronavirus Testing program, powered by the Seattle Flu Study, launched on Sept. 24 and now has more than 12,500 members of the UW community enrolled and has conducted more than 10,000 tests.


October 22, 2020

COVID-19: CDC advisory committee hones in on vaccine rollout recommendations

Vaccine and syringe

When a vaccine to fight COVID-19 has been approved by the FDA for distribution, it’s unlikely that at first there will be enough doses for everyone. Consequently, the United States will need an equitable and effective plan for who gets those first doses, how they get them and who’s next. Just as important, that plan…


UW seeks Latinos caring for relatives, friends with dementia to develop better training program

With Latinos 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than non-Latino whites, among other health disparities, researchers at the University of Washington are hoping to better understand Latino family caregivers and adapt the training available to those caregivers. To do that, the UW Department of Health Services is seeking to interview Latino caregivers for a…


October 21, 2020

Pandemic further isolating older adults, as senior services struggle to adapt

older man sitting on park bench with laptop

A new UW study of senior services in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic reveals providers’ concerns about isolation, and worsening mental and physical health among older adults.


October 20, 2020

UW jumps two spots to No. 8 in US News Best Global Universities ranking

globe

The University of Washington moved up two spots to No. 8 on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings, released Tuesday. The UW maintained its No. 2 ranking among U.S. public institutions.


October 19, 2020

Three UW faculty members elected to National Academy of Medicine; emeritus professor earns service award

Patrick Heagerty, Dr. Joel Kaufman and Sean Sullivan.

The National Academy of Medicine on Monday announced the election of 100 new members, including three from the University of Washington: Patrick Heagerty, Dr. Joel Kaufman and Sean Sullivan. In addition, David Eaton, dean and vice provost emeritus of the UW’s Graduate School, was recognized for outstanding service.


October 5, 2020

Women, workers of color filling most ‘high-hazard/low-reward’ jobs in Washington

When exploring data on Washington workers during the pandemic — demographics, working conditions, wages and benefits, and risks of exposure to disease — the authors of a new report found that women hold two-thirds of the jobs in the harshest category of work. “The big takeaway from our research,” said David West, a co-author of…


September 30, 2020

UW receives $1.5 million CDC grant to study handgun carrying among rural adolescents

With roughly 109 people dying every day and many others treated in emergency rooms from firearm-related injuries — which are the second leading cause of death among adolescents — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has, after decades, stepped in to fund critical firearm research. The CDC announced on Sept. 23 it would fund…


September 24, 2020

Colleges with primarily in-person instruction leading to thousands of COVID-19 cases per day in US

As universities and colleges struggle to find the right combination of in-person and online classes combined with protective measures to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, a new study by researchers from four institutions has reached a troubling conclusion. Reopening university and college campuses with primarily in-person instruction is associated with a significant…


September 15, 2020

Wildfire smoke disproportionally harms poorer communities, remedies necessary to address health inequity

downtown seattle in smoke

With most of the Northwest blanketed by wildfire smoke, public officials and health experts suggest staying inside as much as possible to reduce exposure to the significant health risks of wildfire smoke. However, inequity in our communities means not every home provides great protection and many workers in disadvantaged populations can’t afford to stay home,…


September 14, 2020

UW announces COVID-19 testing program for students, faculty and staff across all three campuses

A sculpture of the University of Washington W logo

The University of Washington on Monday announced a comprehensive COVID-19 fall quarter testing program in advance of some students, faculty and staff returning to the Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma campuses later this month.


August 28, 2020

UW breaks ground on the future of health sciences education and improving our health

The future of our health and the health of the communities we live in relies, in many ways, on students in the health sciences. The education and experiences that future doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, social workers and public health experts receive will to a large degree shape how those professionals work and work together when…



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