UW News

Health and medicine


January 22, 2024

Q&A: UW expert on the rise and risks of artificial sweeteners

Eight white sugar cubes set against a black background.

The rise of artificial sweeteners has made it easier for conscious consumers to reduce their sugar intake, but these products may present their own health risks.


December 5, 2023

Sleep experts, physicians address effects of increased travel on student-athletes, offer recommendations

A view of an airplane wing out the window during sunset.

With several university athletic programs around the country — including the University of Washington — announcing moves to new conferences that will likely increase travel for student-athletes, a group of sleep and circadian scientists and physicians have published a white paper describing the significance of repeated, chronic jet lag on student-athlete health and performance — both in academics and in sports, and suggesting strategies to reduce the consequences of travel across time zones.


November 28, 2023

UW research finds that mailing HPV test kits directly to patients increases cervical cancer screening rates

Currently, more than half of all cervical cancers diagnosed in the United States are in people who are overdue for screening or have never been screened. In a new study, researchers report that mailing HPV test kits significantly increased cervical cancer screening rates.


November 27, 2023

Breathing highway air increases blood pressure, UW research finds 

A new study from the UW found that unfiltered air from rush-hour traffic significantly increased passengers’ blood pressure, both while in the car and up to 24 hours later. 


October 9, 2023

Three UW faculty members elected to National Academy of Medicine

A large block W on a grass lawn. In the background is the University of Washington campus.

Among the most prestigious scientific organizations in the country, the Academy recognizes excellence in the fields of health and medicine, along with a commitment to volunteer service. 


September 7, 2023

UW assessment finds fentanyl and methamphetamine smoke linger on public transit vehicles

Two years ago, as life regained its rhythm and public transit once again filled with people, train and bus operators spotted a troubling trend. Some operators reported instances of people smoking drugs on their vehicles, and worried that the haze it created could linger, potentially affecting workers’ physical and mental health.  Spurred by operators’ concerns,…


September 5, 2023

UW, Stanford launch resource to help health care professionals respond to climate concerns 

The case studies in Medicine for a Changing Planet, collated from clinical encounters around the world, support health professionals in recognizing and treating a variety of health-related conditions that can be traced to environmental stressors.


August 28, 2023

UW research links wildfire smoke to increased risk of emergency room visits for people of all ages

Taken together, the two papers’ findings suggest that wildfire smoke poses a risk to people of all ages, not just young children and older adults.


July 18, 2023

Q&A: UW pharmacy professor Donald Downing on the over-the-counter birth control pill

On July 13, the Food and Drug Administration approved for the first time an over-the-counter birth control pill, expected to hit shelves in early 2024. The approval of the oral contraceptive Opill could drastically expand access to birth control, which for decades has been available only through a prescription. It’s a rare victory for reproductive…


July 10, 2023

UW-developed dental lozenge could provide permanent treatment for tooth sensitivity 

The solution builds new mineral microlayers that penetrate deep into the tooth to create effective, long-lasting natural protection. It could provide easily accessible relief for the millions of adults worldwide who suffer from tooth sensitivity. 


June 21, 2023

An app can transform smartphones into thermometers that accurately detect fevers

A researcher holds a phone to a patient's forehead.

A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has created an app called FeverPhone, which transforms smartphones into thermometers without adding new hardware.


May 16, 2023

School of Dentistry researchers to expand upon study into how and why our gums swell

Researchers collect a sample of oral bacteria from a study subject. Photo credit: Dr. Shatha Bamashmous.

Gingivitis research could also deepen our understanding of inflammation in the rest of the body, which can be difficult to study in real time.  


May 5, 2023

UW immunologist, mathematician among newly elected National Academy of Sciences members

Two University of Washington faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2023: Philip Greenberg, professor of medicine and of immunology at the UW, as well as the Rona Jaffe Foundation Endowed Chair at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and head of the Program in Immunology in its Clinical Research Division; and Gunther Uhlmann, the Robert R. and Elaine F. Phelps Endowed Professor in Mathematics at the UW.


April 6, 2023

Washington state’s 2021 heat wave contributed to 159 excess injury deaths over three weeks

A record-breaking heat wave that baked Washington state in 2021 contributed to 159 excess injury deaths, according to research led by a UW professor.


December 5, 2022

New blood test can detect ‘toxic’ protein years before Alzheimer’s symptoms emerge, study shows

stylized image of the human brain

Researchers at the University of Washington have detected “toxic” small aggregates of a particular protein in the blood of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as in individuals who showed no signs of cognitive impairment at the time the blood sample was taken, but who developed it at a later date. This blood test picks up oligomers — or small, misfolded aggregates — of the amyloid beta protein, which scientists believe triggers the development of Alzheimer’s.


October 31, 2022

How low-cost earbuds can make newborn hearing screening accessible

A person holds a child, who is looking at the camera. Another person's arm holds a probe to the child's ear. The probe is connected to a smartphone, which the third person is holding.

A team led by researchers at the University of Washington has created a new hearing screening system that uses a smartphone and earbuds.


October 13, 2022

Video: Finding — and keeping — the perfect fit for a prosthetic leg

University of Washington Professor Joan Sanders and her team are creating a new type of prosthetic leg: one that automatically adjusts its fit throughout the day. Their latest prototype detects in real time how well the prosthesis socket and amputation site are fitting and responds by automatically changing the size of the socket, without the need for adjustments to padding or user action.


September 22, 2022

UW systems experts put health of kids at the center as King County seeks to reach ‘zero youth detention’

  As King County seeks to reach its goal of “zero youth detention” — ultimately eliminating the practice of juvenile detention in the county —University of Washington researchers are working to help address major systemic challenges in how young people engage with health care. With a strategic plan to close the juvenile detention center by…


July 22, 2022

Novel HIV combination therapies could prevent viral escape and rebound

New research by scientists at the University of Washington, the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization and the University of Cologne indicates that carefully designed cocktails of broadly neutralizing antibodies could help treat HIV while minimizing the risk of the virus evolving to “escape” treatment.


July 15, 2022

Seven UW faculty members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences

Campus photo

Seven professors at the University of Washington are among 25 new members of the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2022, according to a July 15 announcement.


July 12, 2022

UW study strengthens evidence of link between air pollution and child brain development

Seattle traffic

Air pollution is not just a problem for lungs. Increasingly, research suggests air pollution can influence childhood behavioral problems and even IQ. A new study led by the University of Washington has added evidence showing that both prenatal and postnatal exposure to air pollution can harm kids. The study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found…


May 27, 2022

Critical race theory at center of UW study of unequal access to treatment for opioid addiction

Opioid use disorder is an addiction crisis in the United States that has become increasingly lethal during the COVID-19 pandemic. To preserve access to life-saving treatment during the pandemic, federal drug agencies loosened requirements on physicians for treating these patients, including moving patient evaluations away from in-person exams to telemedicine. This federal policy change focused…


May 26, 2022

Video: Alexes Harris draws attention to low representation of people of color in bone marrow registry

Bald woman in hospital bed looking at nurse examining medications beside her

In 2016, Alexes Harris was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer. But a search for a bone marrow donor turned up only five matches, and none ended up being a donor. People of color are underrepresented in the bone marrow registry; according to Be The Match, the nation’s largest bone marrow registry, white people have a 79% chance of finding a match. But a Black person’s potential match is only 29%, and Asian and Latinx people both have about a 47% chance. People of Native American ancestry have a 60% chance of finding a match.


May 7, 2022

Consensus approach proposed to protect human health from intentional and wild forest fires

Prescribed forest fire

All forest fire smoke is bad for people, but not all fires in forests are bad. This is the conundrum faced by experts in forest management and public health: Climate change and decades of fire suppression that have increased fuels are contributing to larger and more intense wildfires and, in order to improve forest health…


May 6, 2022

Model finds COVID-19 deaths among elderly may be due to genetic limit on cell division

Graphic of immune response

Your immune system’s ability to combat COVID-19, like any infection, largely depends on its ability to replicate the immune cells effective at destroying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease. These cloned immune cells cannot be infinitely created, and a key hypothesis of a new University of Washington study is that the body’s ability to…


Four UW researchers elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2022

Four faculty members at the University of Washington have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences for 2022: Elizabeth Buffalo, professor and chair of physiology and biophysics; Joseph Mougous, professor of microbiology; Dr. Jay Shendure, professor of genome sciences; and James Truman, professor emeritus of biology.


May 3, 2022

UW nursing, midwife experts address abortion issue in light of leaked SCOTUS opinion

Two University of Washington nursing and midwife experts in maternal health have provided the following quotes on the issue of restricting abortion or making it illegal — seen as increasingly likely due to the Supreme Court draft opinion, leaked to Politico on Monday. Molly Altman is an assistant professor in the UW School of Nursing…


Many pathologists agree overdiagnosis of skin cancer happens, but don’t change diagnosis behavior

Doctor Examining Patient

As the most serious type of skin cancer, a melanoma diagnosis carries emotional, financial and medical consequences. That’s why recent studies finding that there is an overdiagnosis of melanoma are a significant cause for concern. “Overdiagnosis is the diagnosis of disease that will not harm a person in their lifetime. If melanoma is being overdiagnosed,…


March 29, 2022

Scientists identify overgrowth of key brain structure in babies who later develop autism

New research from the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) Network, which includes the University of Washington, finds that the amygdala, an area of the brain critical for interpreting emotions, grows too rapidly in infants who go on to develop autism.


March 8, 2022

O-pH, a new UW dental tool prototype, can spot the acidic conditions that lead to cavities

Patient in dental exam

You and your dentist have a lot of tools and techniques for stopping cavities, but detecting the specific chemical conditions that can lead to cavities and then preventing them from ever getting started is much harder. Now, in a new study, University of Washington researchers have shown that a dental tool they created can measure…


February 28, 2022

UW authors in IPCC report emphasize threats to human health and well-being

Two University of Washington experts in climate change and health are lead authors of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The new report titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptations and Vulnerability, published Monday morning, details in over three thousand pages a “dire warning” about the consequences of inaction on reducing…


February 16, 2022

Unexpected findings detailed in new portrait of HIV

Using powerful tools and techniques developed in the field of structural biology, researchers at the University of Washington and Scripps Research have discovered new details about the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV. The findings bring into focus the basic architecture of the virus just above and below its surface and may help in the design and…


February 11, 2022

Smartphone app can vibrate a single drop of blood to determine how well it clots

Close up of a person holding a phone with a plastic attachment that holds a cup under the camera. The person is adding a red solution to the cup.

Researchers at the UW have developed a new blood-clotting test that uses a single drop of blood and a smartphone vibration motor and camera.


February 3, 2022

For the uninsured, crowdfunding provides little help in paying for health care and deepens inequities

New research from the University of Washington shows that people in states with higher medical debt and lower rates of insurance coverage are more likely to try to raise money but less likely to succeed.


January 24, 2022

Fast, cheap test can detect COVID-19 virus’ genome without need for PCR

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new test for COVID-19 that combines the speed of over-the-counter antigen tests with the accuracy of PCR tests that are processed in medical labs and hospitals. The Harmony COVID-19 test is a diagnostic test that, like PCR tests for COVID-19, detects genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. But whereas conventional PCR tests can take several hours, the Harmony kit can provide results in less than 20 minutes for some samples and with similar accuracy.


January 13, 2022

UW Pharmacy’s Drug Interaction Database, built to promote medication safety, wins national innovation award

Pills on a table

The UW School of Pharmacy’s Drug Interaction Database — the core research tool from the school’s nonprofit Drug Interaction Solutions team — is celebrating both a national award for innovation and two decades of independent funding through licensing agreements with companies, research institutes and regulatory agencies around the globe.


December 9, 2021

3D imaging method may help doctors better determine prostate cancer aggressiveness

picture of research leads with microscope

A team led by the UW has developed a new, non-destructive method that images entire 3D biopsies instead of a slice for determining prostate cancer aggressiveness. The 3D images provided more information than a 2D image — specifically, details about the tree-like structure of the glands throughout the tissue.


November 17, 2021

A chatbot can help doctors better understand incoming emergency department patients’ social needs

A row of green chairs in a waiting room

A team led by the UW developed a chatbot that could ask emergency department visitors about social needs, including housing, food, access to medical care and physical safety.


October 28, 2021

Countermarketing based on anti-smoking campaigns reduces buying of sugary ‘fruit’ drinks for children

spoonful of sugar with raspberry on top

Public health messages such as in the image below — designed to reduce parents’ purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages marketed as fruit drinks for children — convinced a significant percentage of parents to avoid those drinks, according to a study by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Pennsylvania. The UW-led study set…


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…



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