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Health science research improves lives and creates jobs

SPONSORED — When it comes to pioneering groundbreaking health research, discoveries and procedures, there’s nothing “old school” about medical school. Fortunately for Washington State residents, advanced medical research and resources will soon be in their proverbial backyard, as Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine welcomes its first students in August.

Changing the face of American health care

For the 60 students making up the school’s first cohort, the medical school will be a life-changing career builder. But the school’s beneficiaries may not be limited to students — or even community members.

Over the last several decades, significant health advances have been pioneered at America’s medical schools. These include developing the first polio vaccine, completing the first successful pancreas transplant and bone marrow transplant, creating the first intensive care unit for newborns, pioneering gene therapy for cystic fibrosis, and performing the first adult human heart transplant in the country.

U.S. medical schools are also credited with the first successful liver transplant, first successful pediatric heart transplant and the first successful surgery on a fetus in utero.

Creating job opportunities

Obviously, new medical breakthroughs — including vaccines, therapies, surgeries and other procedures — boost the health of America. But these discoveries also help improve the nation’s economy, as they open new and exciting opportunities for job creation and growth.

According to Act for NIH, “Scientific discoveries sparked by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) play a critical role in our health, safety and quality of life — and they contribute to our nation’s economic well-being and fiscal health. Scientific discovery creates jobs in our hometowns, states, and country.”

With the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine opening at the Washington State University Spokane campus, that economic growth can start right here at home. For eastern Washington and the entire state, the success of the school will be universally beneficial.

Growth in health sciences

In Washington specifically, health sciences research commercialization is a growing segment of the economy. WSU’s health sciences programs have helped generate myriad companies focused on diagnosing and treating diseases and improving health and quality of life.

Among these is M3 Biotechnology, which is developing advanced therapies to treat (and possibly eradicate) neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s — the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. Another business, Cancer Targeted Technology, is working to develop diagnostic and therapeutic treatments for people with prostate cancer. Adaptelligence provides smartphone-based applications to keep the elderly safe, while Aavogen focuses on gene therapies for treating muscle-wasting diseases such as cancer cachexia, muscular dystrophy and even heart failure.

Research for the world

While the medical school might be a new addition to WSU, the university’s focus on health research is nothing new. In fact, over the last decade, WSU’s grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health have increased by 45 percent to an annual total of more than $31.2 million.

This is thanks largely to the university’s world-renowned researchers and facilities in the fields of sleep research, cellular research, addiction research and communication research. Through the new medical school, WSU will continue its long tradition of pushing the boundaries of today’s most sophisticated health and medical research.

For more information on the medical school, or to apply, visit medicine.wsu.edu.

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