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Washington State University Updates and News

Dr. Courtney Meehan and Dr. Kanako Hayashi were both awarded the Cougar Cage award!

Study of cannabis, human milk composition, and infant development

“In an effort to address the historical lack of research on pregnant and breastfeeding women, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Professor of Anthropology Courtney Meehan seeks to populate the information desert surrounding these vulnerable individuals and their children. Her proposed study will assess whether milk composition differs among women who use and do not use cannabis, and how the presence of cannabinoids in milk affects infant development. Meehan hopes the results will enable healthcare providers to offer evidence-based advice and allow mothers to make more informed decisions.”

Targeted drug delivery in endometriosis therapy

“Professor Kanako Hayashi from the School of Molecular Biosciences and Professor Yuehe Lin from the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering have joined forces to improve the quality of life for people with endometriosis, a chronic and incurable disease that affects nearly 200 million worldwide. With funding from Cougar Cage, they plan to develop a non-hormonal therapy that will rely on biocompatible nanocarriers to deliver drugs to afflicted cells with fewer side effects than current treatments”


Each of these projects will receive $50,000 to achieve its research goals. Congratulations!

Article Linked Here

Milk From Women Diagnosed With COVID-19 Does Not Contain SARS-CoV-2 RNA but Has Persistent Levels of SARS-CoV-2-Specific IgA Antibodies

A recent study by our own Courtney Meehan at Washington State University found that milk produced by women with COVID-19 does not contain SARS-CoV-2 and is likely a lasting source of passive immunity via anti-RBD IgA.

These results support recommendations encouraging lactating women to continue breastfeeding during and after COVID-19 illness.

Read the Full article here

COVID vaccination recommendation for pregnant and lactating individuals

A recent study by the University of Washington observed short-term reactions among pregnant and lactating individuals in the first wave of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. They found that vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 are highly effective in preventing COVID-19 illness.
And research has found that COVID-19 infection is associated with adverse events in pregnancy and therefore recommends offering SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to pregnant and lactating individuals to combat adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Dr. Erica Crespi Honored as WSU Woman of the Year

Six CAS women were honored for their accomplishments, service, and commitment to student success at the 15th annual WSU Women of Distinction awards ceremonies this spring. Our own Dr. Erica Crespi is among these amazing women.

Erica Crespi
Woman of the Year

As an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences (SBS), 2021 Woman of the Year Erica Crespi is committed to excellence in research and teaching, but it’s her “commitment to promoting the success of diverse students,” her nomination letter said, that makes her truly exceptional. She is a tireless advocate for under-represented groups in the sciences – particularly women. She mentors and advises female students, co-advises the Scientista group, serves on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, regularly speaks on panels about women in science, and recently secured a grant to support a maternal-child health collaborative that will bring together female researchers from across WSU.

In addition to her advocacy work, Crespi is an engaging teacher who received the Smith Teaching and Learning Award in 2017 and was inducted into the WSU Teaching Academy in 2020. She has had several projects funded by the National Science Foundation and recently received a $900K Murdock Trust grant to build an Aquatics Phenomics Research Center at WSU. “While there are many important women leaders at WSU,” her nomination letter read, “Erica is unique in that her leadership is changing the landscape of research at WSU for so many faculty while also innovating graduate and undergraduate training and education.”


Read the full article Here

Pandemic has increased pregnancy stress for U.S. women

New research from our collaborative and lead by Dr. Celestina Barbosa-Leiker has found a link between increased pregnancy stress and the pandemic.

“Key Takeaways

  • Many pregnant and postpartum women are engaging in unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress of the pandemic—including drugs and alcohol.
  • Right now, marijuana is the number one substance for which women seek treatment during pregnancy.
  • The rise of telemedicine has created additional touchpoints for substance use treatment and prenatal care.”

Read more


““Pregnant women are really stressed about contracting COVID-19,” said lead author Celestina Barbosa-Leiker, vice chancellor for research at WSU Health Sciences Spokane. “They have a lot of questions for their health care providers. There’s a lot of we don’t know yet, which is understandable, but it’s especially stressful for the moms.””

Read more


“In the study, 52% of pregnant women and 49% of postpartum women worried about their babies contracting COVID-19, and 46% had sought extra information about COVID-19 protocols from the hospital where they had planned to deliver, or had delivered, their babies.”

You can read the full research article Here

What parents should know about COVID-19 vaccines and children

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the emergency use of two COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is approved for people over 16, and the Moderna vaccine is approved for people over 18. While both vaccines have proven to be safe and effective in adults, the pediatric population is not yet eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

In this Q&A, Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases physician, will answer some of the most common questions she’s hearing from parents when it comes to kids and COVID-19 vaccines.”

Mayo Clinic January 28th, 2021

Link Here

COVID Vaccine during pregnancy webinar

The University of Washington has a webinar this Friday, Jan. 29th at noon (Pacific time) about the COVID vaccine during pregnancy.

Topic: Let’s Talk About: Pregnancy & the COVID-19 Vaccine

Description: Vaccines for COVID-19 are here, but are they safe for pregnant women and the developing baby? From safety to timing to concerns in-between, get the inside scoop from maternal health experts so you can have peace of mind about these pandemic-ending shots.

Registration Link