WSU Scientist wins grant for work on addiction

PULLMAN — A WSU scientist has been awarded more than $4 million from the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund, for efforts to develop programs for treatment of substance abuse and mental illness in Washington’s rural areas.

John Roll, associate dean of research at the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane, was awarded $4,048,617 for his project, “Program of Excellence in Rural Mental Health and Substance Abuse,” which aims to develop treatment protocols tailored to the state’s rural residents.

The winning proposal was among four selected from 29 proposals submitted by researchers across the state. All proposals were evaluated and ranked by a panel of scientific experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The awards were announced Tuesday.

 “My main hope is that this will improve the quality of life for our rural citizens,” said Roll. “We want all the people of Washington to have access to good treatment options.”

Many established treatments for addiction and mental illness were developed for use in urban areas and may not transfer well to a rural setting, said Roll.

“Some treatment programs require three visits a week. If you live 100 miles from the treatment center, that’s just not tenable,” he said. It’s also harder to remain anonymous in a small-town or rural setting, which may discourage some people from seeking treatment.

Roll will work with colleagues from Group Health Center for Health Studies, Swedish Medical Center, the University of Washington, and the Washington Department of Social and Health Services to adapt treatments that have been successful in urban areas and to develop new programs specifically for use in rural areas.

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a Washington State agency established in May 2005, makes grant investments in innovative life sciences research to benefit Washington and its citizens. Funding for the program comes from Washington’s share of bonus payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement, with revenues derived from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.

For more about the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, go to