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00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71620001Idaho is one of four western states without a medical school. So, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska and Montana have partnered with the University of Washington School of Medicine to provide in-state tuition rates for out-of-state medical students.The program -- known today as WWAMI (sounds like whammy) -- was created in 1971. Wyoming joined in 1996.According to the WWAMI webpage, these are the programs' five goals:Provide publicly supported medical education.Increase the number of primary-care physicians and correct the maldistribution of physicians.Provide community-based medical education.Expand graduate medical education and continuing medical education.Provide all of these in a cost-effective manner.The state of Idaho subsidizes the cost of attending the University of Washington for 20 medical students per year. Idaho pays about $50,000 per seat, per year, leaving the student to pay just in-state tuition and fees.Here's a look at the number of WWAMI seats Idaho has had over time:00000176-d8fc-dce8-adff-faff71620002The state also pays for a similar program with the University of Utah School of Medicine. There, Idaho subsidizes the cost of tuition for eight medical students per year.In fiscal year 2013, Idaho committed $3,986,900 to the WWAMI program and $1,257,200 to the University of Utah.

WWAMI Scientist Gets $1.3 Million Grant To Research Why Humans Sleep

Washington State University
Dr. Jonathan Wisor received a $1.3 million NIH grant to study how the brain processes glucose.

A scientist with the WWAMI program at Spokane’s WSU Riverpoint campus has received a large grant to study one question: why do humans sleep? Boise State Public Radio highlighted the WWAMI program a couple of weeks ago as it turned 40. It's a cooperation between five northwest states, including Idaho, to train doctors. But WWAMI doctors also conduct research. One of those is Jonathan Wisor . 

“Why don’t you sleep on it” is a common adage to help with big decisions. Wisor is interested in doing just that. Well, at least studying why that sleep is so necessary.

Dr. Wisor received a $1.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study how the brain processes glucose, which the body uses as a primary energy source.

“The purpose of the grant is to test our hypothesis that the very function of sleep is to reduce the brain’s demand for glucose,” Wisor explains.

He says the brain can detect when you’ve been awake all day and using glucose, and it forces itself to shut down, going into a mini-hibernation.

He compares the process to people cleaning out a coal furnace. The furnace may have enough fuel to work, but it still has to be shut down so the soot and ash can be cleaned out. He says it’s the same for the brain.

“It’s not that it’s running out of glucose, it’s not that it’s running out of fuel," Wisor says. "It’s that it needs to clean out the bio-chemical equivalent of soot and ash that build up when we are constantly using the brain when we are awake.”

Dr. Wisor will run lab tests to understand the use of glucose in healthy brains, hoping to apply the results to stroke, diabetes, and other vulnerable states of the brain. All in an effort to answer the question: why do we sleep?

“This is like, this is sort of the holy grail of our research endeavor,” he says.

By the way, how many hours does a sleep doctor rest each night? He says about seven.

Copyright 2012 Spokane Public Radio. 

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