State Tobacco Cash Funneled Into Vaccines, Biotech Drug Delivery, Cardiac Arrest, and Mental Health Research

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back into a normal rhythm.

John Roll, the director of the Washington Institute for Mental Illness Research and Training at Washington State University won another grant for $4 million to study ways to improve rural mental health and substance abuse services. This work will be divvied up among collaborators at Group Health Center for Health Studies, Swedish Medical Center, the University of Washington, and the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

Patrick Stayton, a bioengineering professor at the University of Washington, is spearheading the largest single grant, worth $7.2 million. This money will go toward work on how to better deliver biotech drugs to where they need to go within cells. He is collaborating on the work with partners at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

One of the proposals that fell short in its quest for a state grant was from the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Fate Therapeutics, a biotech startup company with operations in San Diego and Seattle. Fate and its academic collaborators, led by Beverly Torok-Storb of the Hutch, were asking the state for support in setting up an innovation center to “reprogram” adult skin cells to become like stem cells, with the potential to form any other cell type in the body. The work was first demonstrated last year by Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka and University of Wisconsin researcher James Thomson, and made headlines around the world.

Here are the other five finalists that didn’t make the cut, based on a phone interview with Dianne Needham, a spokeswoman for the state life sciences fund:

—Jonathan Himmelfarb of the University of Washington had applied for a grant to a chronic kidney disease collaborative.

—Mary Larimer of the UW asked the board to fund a Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors.

—Karin Rodland of Battelle’s Northwest Division sought to form an integrated research program for chronic pulmonary diseases.

—Matthew O’Donnell, the Dean of the UW College of Engineering, led a group that is aiming to build a center for diagnostic and therapeutic uses of ultrasound technology.

—Gwenn Garden of the UW was aiming to set up a neurotherapeutics evaluation center.

The board didn’t discuss any of the proposals it turned down in public, so this is going to require some follow-up. I’m planning to meet with John DesRosier, the fund’s director of programs, tomorrow to learn more, so if you have questions you’d like to ask, send me a note at

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