UW News

Public Health


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 24, 2022

Video: Experts collaborate to troubleshoot necessary fires and harmful smoke

Forest on fire with smoke billowing, as seen from a helicopter

Forest fire smoke can make you sick, and we’re experiencing more them. In terms of public health, it seems logical to reduce forest fires to limit unhealthy air pollution, but forest managers are increasingly seeing prescribed burning as an essential tool to reduce explosive wildfires. How should we plan to deal with the impacts of these fires?


May 19, 2022

Q&A: Why discriminatory bias is a public health problem

Tony Greenwald, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Washington and creator of the Implicit Association Test, explains how public health strategies can help address unintended discrimination.


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…


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,…


April 4, 2022

Researchers find patterns of handgun carrying among youth in rural areas, building foundation for injury prevention

The first results of research led by the University of Washington into handgun carrying by young people growing up in rural areas has found six distinct patterns for when and how often these individuals carry a handgun. The patterns, or “longitudinal trajectories,” suggest that youths in rural areas differ in some ways from their urban…


March 30, 2022

Video: New face mask guidance for UW’s 2022 spring quarter

With the start of spring quarter on March 28, face masks became optional — but still recommended — inside most UW facilities. In light of the policy change, UW News spoke with several experts about what to expect on campus, how the current science and transmission rates inform our policy, and emotions and feelings we may experience as a result of removing our face coverings.


March 9, 2022

More air pollution present in areas with historical redlining

Cars on a road with houses and mountains in the background

A team of researchers at the UW and UC Berkeley has found that housing discrimination practices dating from the 1930s still drive air pollution disparities in hundreds of American cities today.


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…


January 26, 2022

Air pollution from planes, roads infiltrates schools and can be dramatically reduced with portable air filters

Professor testing air quality

What started as a University of Washington-led project to measure air pollution near Sea-Tac International Airport has led to schools in the area installing portable air filters to improve indoor air quality. First, UW researchers found they were able to parse aircraft pollution from roadway pollution in the communities under Sea-Tac International Airport flight paths…


December 17, 2021

Deforestation-fueled heat already affecting millions of outdoor workers in the tropics

series of maps

New research from an interdisciplinary team at the University of Washington, Duke University and The Nature Conservancy shows how local temperature increases in the tropics – compounded by accelerating deforestation – may already be jeopardizing the well-being and productivity of outdoor workers.


December 3, 2021

Hans Rosling Center wins state, national architectural design and project awards

Has Rosling Center

The Hans Rosling Center for Population Health has won top awards in 2021 from state and national design and construction associations for both its architectural design and unique project delivery approach. The building was designed by The Miller Hull Partnership and the general contractor was Lease Crutcher Lewis. The Design Build Institute of America in…


November 22, 2021

Video: UW students build purifiers that can remove virus particles, other pollutants

A UW class that normally is about air pollution has pivoted to focus on another airborne health hazard — coronavirus aerosols. As part of the class project, students are designing and building air purifiers and testing how effective they are.


November 11, 2021

Deforestation, climate change linked to more worker deaths and unsafe conditions

Outdoor workers in the world’s lower-latitude tropical forests may face a greater risk of heat-related deaths and unsafe working conditions because of deforestation and climate warming, according to a study led by The Nature Conservancy, the University of Washington and Indonesia’s Mulawarman University. In the study, researchers found that increased temperatures of 0.95 C (1.7…


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 25, 2021

‘Self-care and resilience’ — UW’s Elaine Walsh discusses burnout among nurses

The pandemic has left nurses around the country feeling burned out. Their top four feelings, according to a recent survey? Exhausted, overwhelmed, irritable and anxious or unable to relax. UW News spoke with Elaine Walsh, a UW School of Nursing associate professor and a Nurse Scientist in Resiliency at Seattle Children’s Hospital, to learn more about the…


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 28, 2021

Alzheimer’s data center at UW awarded $35 million to continue mission of free, global access

Neurons

For researchers around the world working to understand and treat Alzheimer’s and eventually find a cure, data from clinical exams of patients suffering from this complex neurodegenerative disease needs to be standardized and accessible. Since 1999, that’s what the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC), housed in the UW School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology,…


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 20, 2021

With extreme heat increasingly common, UW expert calls for urgent planning to protect health in new Lancet series

In a new series on increasingly common extreme heat waves and their impact on human health published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet, a University of Washington climate change and health expert joined more than a dozen international experts to warn that we better prepare. “The preventable heat stress and deaths during this summer’s…


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…


August 4, 2021

Fine particulate air pollution associated with higher risk of dementia

Pollution map Puget Sound region

Using data from two large, long-running study projects in the Puget Sound region — one that began in the late 1970s measuring air pollution and another on risk factors for dementia that began in 1994 — University of Washington researchers identified a link between air pollution and dementia. In the UW-led study, a small increase…


July 30, 2021

Food insecurity remains high and need for assistance dramatically up in Washington

Food bank scene

Washington residents continue to experience a dramatically higher level of food insecurity — from 10% before the COVID-19 pandemic to 27%, according to the latest University of Washington and Washington State University research on food insecurity and food assistance in the state. The study team also found that need for food assistance has continued to…


July 28, 2021

Video: scientist tests soil for hidden contaminants in community gardens

A garden plot at Renew Church garden in Lynnwood.

Soil, particularly in urban areas, can hold contaminants that are unhealthy for people who handle it or eat things grown in the ground. Chemicals left behind by vehicles, air pollution and heavy industry can show up in the ground and in plants. Melanie Malone, assistant professor in UW Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences investigates these contaminants and their prevalence in shared garden spaces.


July 23, 2021

Older workers needed for UW study on worker safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Restaurant server at table

Public health researchers have learned a lot about how the pandemic affected workers and exacerbated existing health disparities that exist in many communities. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the experience of workers deemed essential in the food industry and who were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, such those working in…


July 9, 2021

Study model explores impact of police action on population health

A specific police action, an arrest or a shooting, has an immediate and direct effect on the individuals involved, but how far and wide do the reverberations of that action spread through the community? What are the health consequences for a specific, though not necessarily geographically defined, population? The authors of a new UW-led study…


June 15, 2021

Video: Mobile health van student volunteers collaborate in service to the community

Student volunteers look at medical supplies inside a van.

This summer a UW mobile health outreach van will hit the road, bringing some basic health care services to people without housing who might have a hard time getting to a doctor’s office.


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…


May 24, 2021

Fast food, supermarkets, other aspects of built environments don’t play expected role in weight gain

People don’t gain or lose weight because they live near a fast-food restaurant or supermarket, according to a new study led by the University of Washington. And, living in a more “walkable,” dense neighborhood likely only has a small impact on weight. These “built-environment” amenities have been seen in past research as essential contributors to…


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 28, 2021

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A picture of power lines at sunset. Everything is hazy.

A new study from researchers at multiple universities, including the UW, shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.


April 20, 2021

How lessons from past emergencies could improve the pandemic response

bottle of hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask on a table

The federal government, in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, could learn from how the nation responded to Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the H1N1 swine flu, a new University of Washington study found.


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…


April 1, 2021

CDC, UW study finds significant vaccine distrust within incarcerated populations, increasing risks

Fewer than half of inmates in jails and prisons surveyed in a study by the CDC and University of Washington said they would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, while the majority either said they wanted to wait before getting the vaccine or would refuse one. “This is a population already at risk for COVID-19, and outbreaks…



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