December 11, 2017

After Charlottesville clash, history professor heard echoes of an ugly era

After Charlottesville clash, a history professor heard echoes of an ugly era.

December 8, 2017

Engineering on the brain

Doctors, engineers and other experts work together at the UW Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.

December 7, 2017

The opioid boom

The prevailing practice for treating addiction to painkillers led to the worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history.

September 28, 2017

How the UW helped a little girl triumph as a reader with dyslexia

My alma mater helped my daughter become a reader.

Understanding homelessness

"It's a symptom of a bigger disease of our society."

September 13, 2017

Transplants on the double

UW Medicine’s innovation could yield better results for kidney patients.

June 27, 2017

Before Paul Allen funded UW’s computer science labs, he got kicked out of them

Before he funded UW's computer science labs, Paul Allen got kicked out of them.

June 26, 2017

traffic, machine learning, microsoft

Predict and prevent: Curbing traffic accidents with machine learning

The UW has partnered with Microsoft and the city of Bellevue to curb traffic accidents with machine learning.

June 16, 2017

elephant art wolfe, sam wasser

Armed with DNA and forensic science, Sam Wasser fights to save endangered species

Biology professor Sam Wasser fights to save endangered species.

June 15, 2017

Mobilizing against muscular dystrophy

A family eager to help their son has helped make the UW a leader in facing down an insidious disease.

June 12, 2017

pound of flesh, alexes harris, fines and fees

How prison can cost you ‘A Pound of Flesh’

Fees and fines are the punishment that keeps on giving in the criminal justice system.

June 6, 2017

Discoveries, breakthroughs and data

From researchers at the University of Washington.

May 25, 2017

microaggressions, john crowley

Could microaggressions affect your health?

Overt racism has long been linked to health disparities, but what about subtle slights?

March 24, 2017

Why do people give to charity?

Why do we give to charitable organizations and causes? Our motivations for philanthropic giving depend on how we feel we’re faring compared to others.

March 1, 2017

population health

Finding a solution: A history of helping mankind

Tackling the most vexing medical problems facing humankind.

population health

Cancer calamity: Rising rates among low-income and minority Americans

Disparities in health care access hit communities of color hard—particularly when it comes to cancer.

population health, global health, health care, uw medicine

Why Gates gave: What $279 million will do for global health

A historic $279 million donation will enable the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to forecast health scenarios.

If you are a Hispanic or African American woman diagnosed with breast cancer, your chances of a good outcome—and sometimes even of surviving—are not as good as that of a Caucasian woman. It’s an unfortunate fact in America’s health care system. Just ask Ali Mokdad. The UW professor of global health conducted a landmark study of 29 cancers and U.S. deaths by county from 1980-2014. What he uncovered was beyond sobering. Although deaths from all cancers combined fell by 20 percent in the U.S. as a whole, cancer rates are actually rising in 160 counties that had predomoniantly lower income and minority residents. In some counties, death rates are more than 20 times higher than average. “In a country where we spend more than anyone else on health care and we debate health all the time, it surprised me to see such huge disparities at the county level. We are leaving people behind in some places where the cancer rate is increasing,” says Mokdad, lead author on the study that was completed at the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “You see certain counties where life expectancy is as high as anywhere in the world and other places where the life expectancy is like countries in Africa and Asia.” Medical science can’t always explain why a particular cancer occurs more often in one part of the U.S. than in another. For example, in the Puget Sound area, people tend to get less cancer overall and have better survival rates than in places such as the Deep South, the states bordering Mexico and the Southeast. On the other hand, Puget Sound residents appear more vulnerable to brain cancer. And this area has seen higher rates of some types of blood cancer with higher death rates than in other parts of the U.S. “It’s hard to speculate on reasons. Something else is going on, but it’s very important to know that it’s a problem,” says Mokdad. In general, disparities in cancer and death rates are affected by a host of factors: lifestyle, access to cancer screenings, patient compliance, access to quality care and proximity to quality treatment. “The question is, how can we bring prevention to the forefront of what we are doing,” he adds. “It’s not enough to have excellent treatment.” The sad truth is that disparities in health care access, treatment and outcome hit communities of color especially hard. Breast cancer is a primary example. African American and Hispanic women are more likely to have more aggressive forms of cancer, to be diagnosed with more advanced cancer and to have worse outcomes. Lupe Salazar, associate professor in the Division of Oncology, says underrepresented minority women are also more likely to receive treatment that fails to meet recognized standards of care. “Before the Affordable Care Act, we had patients at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance who couldn’t get the full complement of services. For example, the Medicaid vouchers wouldn’t cover PET Scans,” says Salazar, ’02, ’03. PET scans are vital in pinpointing the location and severity of cancer. But they are expensive; the average cost of a PET scan ranges from $3,000 to more than $12,000. Minority women, particularly if they are low income or single parents, are also much less likely to participate in clinical trials. Government funding agencies always ask researchers to recruit from minority populations, “but [there is] nobody to give you resources or funding for things like paying for translators for help with getting consents,” Salazar explains. “It’s also very hard to enroll patients who don’t have a computer or a way to log on to or a way to find the database of experimental treatments.” Health disparities plague other communities including immigrants. India Ornelas, ’99, assistant professor in health services, and Vicky Taylor, research professor in health services, are working to increase the number of refugee women who receive regular screenings for cervical cancer. They created a video to build awareness for non-medical audiences. Collaboration is absolutely vital to addressing these inequities in diagnosis and treatment. “We are going to come together to figure out what we can build on and what we can deliver,” says Salazar. “We hope the Population Health Initiative will improve the health care of the poorest people, whether you’re in the Pacific Northwest or a developing country. We will see.” n—Julie Garner

Building a livable city: Lessons from Auburn, Washington

Where we live affects our quality of life in many ways, including our health, happiness and social equity.

population health, global health, health care, uw medicine

Diet and disease: Mapping and combating health disparities

How UW researchers are mapping and combating health disparities.

population health, global health, health care

Scientists, doctors and data collectors join forces for population health

Scientists, doctors and data collectors join forces for population health.

February 28, 2017

Health supplement DHEA linked to aggression in birds

An over-the-counter health supplement can be linked linked to aggression in songbirds, suggesting health implications for people who may be using the DHEA hormone.

School of Public Health: 162 million children are too short for their age

About 162 million children worldwide under the age of five are considered too short for their age—a growth failure called stunting.

Kristy Leissle, daN BATES, chocolate uw, cocoa uw

Traveling the world like a cocoa bean

UW Bothell lecturer Kristy Leissle is a leading researcher of the global cocoa trade.

musicnet, machine learning

STEM researchers arrange dataset to understand classical music

STEM researchers at the UW have arranged a dataset to understand classical music.

prevention revisited

Harborview-based center wants to stop injuries before they happen

A Harborview-based center wants to stop injuries before they happen.

Need a new heart? Come to UW Medical Center

If you need a heart transplant, here’s your prescription: come to UW Medical Center.

February 27, 2017

Inspired by ‘Hidden Figures,’ UW engineer and astronaut honored for STEM contributions

Inspired by the film "Hidden Figures," the Obama White House honored a group of women of color who have contributed to NASA’s success. Two UW alumnae were included.

January 17, 2017

Michael Gale

UW Medicine lab races to halt the spread of the Zika virus

In South Lake Union, a UW lab races to halt the Zika virus.

December 29, 2016

breast biopsy, atypia

Why a breast cancer diagnosis isn’t always so simple

Why some women don't get clarity when it comes to a cancer diagnosis.

$210 million gift gates foundation uw

With $210 million gift, UW becomes global hub for human health

With a $210 million gift, the UW moves forward to become a global hub for human health.

December 21, 2016

fish mislabeling

Fishy business

A broad examination of seafood mislabeling and the ecological and financial impacts suggests that because of the mislabeling, more people are eating more sustainably.

Smartphones over needles

A team of engineers and computer scientists from the University of Washington has developed HemaApp, a smartphone camera app to measure hemoglobin levels.

December 19, 2016

karen cheng trash bin

Interactive trash bins lead to smarter garbage habits

Compost. Recycle. Landfill. Three words, so many headaches. Two design professors think interactive trash bins could make life much easier.

December 16, 2016

David Sharrow, James Anderson, twins live longer

Not fair: UW researchers find evidence that twins live longer

Two UW researchers paired up to look at the life span of twins. They found that womb-mates live longer than the rest of us.

UW Bothell researchers design self-driving tricycle

Researchers at UW Bothell are working on a self-driving tricycle. No, it’s not an expensive Christmas gift your kids will want in 2020—it might just be your hands-free ride to work one day.

December 13, 2016


On the mend

No matter the fate of the Affordable Care Act, UW faculty and alumni continue to seek remedies for our health care system.

December 12, 2016

Nina Cesare

How Twitter and Facebook change the way we mourn

Two UW sociology researchers are studying how people tweet about death, analyzing feeds of deceased Twitter users.