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What's Happening at WBBA and in the Life Sciences Industry? Read about the innovations, disruptions, and debates that are shaping the future of biotechnology and bio-medicine in the Pacific Northwest, the United States, and globally. What to contribute a post to The Lifeline? Send your submissions to Megan Jeffrey ( Please include your credentials and background information about your organization.


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Introducing Washington State University's Sustaining Health Initiative

Posted By Alyssa Patrick, Communication Coordinator | Washington State University | Economic Development, Monday, July 14, 2014

It has been nearly 70 years since the World Health Organization defined health as much more than “the absence of disease or infirmity.” In fact, the WHO concept of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing” remains a solid foundation for our expanding understanding of all of the factors that foster healthy humans and communities.


Washington State University’s Sustaining Health Initiative focuses on the interconnectedness of those factors and on breaking down traditional barriers to solving our health challenges.


It is a university-wide, cross-disciplinary effort aimed at equitably and holistically advancing the health of people around the state, nation, and world.


The vision for the Sustaining Health Initiative is clear and compelling: healthy humans living in healthy, sustainable communities with access to clean air and water, quality medical care, a safe and abundant food supply, clean and renewable energy sources, and a built environment that fosters wellbeing and prosperity.


The Initiative addresses three major concepts that draw from WSU’s research strengths:


Uncompromising pursuit of a healthier world - Longtime expertise in the academic disciplines focused on human and animal health is one of the hallmarks of the WSU enterprise. As a result, the University is ideally positioned to advance health and wellbeing issues worldwide.  Here are a few departments and partnerships that contribute to this area:

·         The Center for Reproductive Biology

·         College of Medical Sciences

·         College of Nursing

·         College of Pharmacy

·         Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion

·         Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health

·         Sleep and Performance Research Center


A safe and abundant food supply - Building a modern food system that is safe, productive, competitive, and sustainable is critical to meeting the health needs of an ever-growing world population. WSU has experts working on various parts of this need:

·         Agricultural Research Center

·         The Center for Precision Agriculture & Automated Systems

·         Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

·         Food & Environmental Quality Lab

·         Institute of Biological Chemistry

·         International Research & Agricultural Development


Secure, sustainable, energy-filled living - Building upon long-term institutional strengths in plant science, power, and applied sciences and engineering, WSU researchers pursue interdisciplinary solutions to meet current resource needs without compromising future generations.

·         Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory

·         The Center for Environmental Research, Education, and Outreach

·         Center for Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and the Environment

·         Composite Materials and Engineering Center

·         The Institute of Sustainable Design

·         Laboratory for Atmospheric Research

·         Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance

·         The School of the Environment

·         State of Washington Water Research Center


However, it’s not about the strengths in these three areas separately that make Sustaining Health Initiative groundbreaking. It’s about how these diverse areas of study and outreach are integrated and what is possible when our top notch faculty from across the university can do together to solve problems with sustainable solutions. And it’s about what we bring to our partners like the Washington Global Health Alliance, Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Institute, and the University of Washington. Collaboration is the key to a healthy future, for all people, and Sustaining Health Initiative is just the first step for WSU.


To learn more about the specifics of each area, visit


Tags:  BIO  bio-ag  Education  Global Health  Life Sciences  Outreach  Spokane  STEM  Students  WBBA  WSU 

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Paw Print Genetics: A new approach to canine inherited disease testing

Posted By Lisa G Shaffer, PhD, Thursday, March 27, 2014
The German shepherd is just one of many exceptional dog breeds. Versatile in their abilities, they are often the first choice for law enforcement, personal protection and companionship. How a specific dog breed has so many desirable characteristics is not a mystery. All domesticated dogs were bred for specific behavioral or physical traits that were required for certain jobs – whether it was for chasing and catching varmints, retrieving the evening’s dinner, or bringing in the herd, dogs are the perfect species for a variety of tasks.  

All of these traits, behavioral and physical, have a genetic component and are determined by an accumulation of genes with modifications, or mutations, that result in some outcome. Whether the traits are willingness to retrieve, coat color or skull shape, humans chose founding stock to create the various breeds and bred these dogs for the desired traits. However, undesirable, even harmful genetic mutations were carried along in these breeds. The most ancient mutations can be found in many breeds of dogs, whereas those mutations that arose more recently maybe found in only one or two breeds. 

With the advent of molecular genetic technologies and the sequencing of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) genome, testing for genetic traits and diseases has become quite straightforward from a laboratory perspective and desired from a responsible breeder’s standpoint. In addition, genetic testing has become a necessity from an ownership perspective.

Owning a dog is a time consuming, financial and emotional investment. How many hours of training have you put into your hunting dog or police K9? Many have done the same with their dogs, but were then forced to retire them early due to late onset degenerative diseases; blindness caused by one of the progressive retinal atrophies or one of many other debilitating conditions. If these devastating diseases could be tested for and eliminated from lines prior to breeding, buying or training, why wouldn’t you do that? 

Paw Print Genetics’ goal is to offer all known mutations that cause disease in specific breeds in a panel format. For example, in German shepherd dogs, there are nine diseases or traits for which the genetic mutations are known. Paw Print Genetics offers testing for all of these. 

Paw Print Genetics’ panel approach to disease testing is unique in the industry. Because genetic mutations can lurk silently in breeding lines until a puppy is born with medical problems, the panel approach to testing in the dam and sire makes economic and scientific sense. Once the dam and sire have been screened and their genetics are known, the expected outcomes can be anticipated and decisions about breeding can be made with knowledge and understanding of your dogs’ genomes. Puppies need only to be tested for those diseases known from the dam and sire testing. If both are clear, the puppies do not need any further genetic testing for these diseases. 

Staffed with expertly trained PhD geneticists, licensed veterinarians and molecular biologists, the laboratory at Paw Print Genetics uses state-of-the-art testing methodologies to provide cost effective and efficient testing for its clients. Based on small amounts of DNA, all testing is done with cheek swabs – a noninvasive approach that can be done in the convenience of the breeder or owner’s kennel or home. 

Paw Print Genetics takes the testing of your dogs very seriously. We have implemented the highest medical and laboratory standards because we know that accurate and reliable testing is important to you, and frankly, it's the only way we know how to do business.  

For additional information, please visit

Tags:  Breeding  Canines  Dogs  Paw Print Genetics  Spokane  Tests  Traits  Veterinary  WBBA  WSU 

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