Idaho State University’s Maria Wong to participate in Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C.

POCATELLO – Idaho State University Professor and Director of experimental psychology Maria Wong will participate in the Rally for Medical Research on Capitol Hill on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C.

Held every September since 2013, this event attracts nearly 300 national organizations coming together to call on the U.S. government’s policymakers to make funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research.

Wong and other rally participants will visit congressional offices to promote health research. She is the only psychologist selected by the American Psychological Association to represent Idaho. She will visit the offices of Idaho senators and congressmen to talk about the importance of federal research funding.

Maria Wong

Maria Wong

“We need more funding for the National Institutes for Health to promote health research,” Wong said. “NIH research funding has not increased in the last 10 years. Due to an increase in the number of researchers applied for funding, it is becoming more and more difficult to be successful in getting grants. Without funding, I can’t do the type of research that I do at ISU. Idaho receives less funding than most other states in the nation. Increases in federal research funding will be very helpful for health researchers in Idaho.”

Wong is developmental psychologist who studies substance use and addiction in youth. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Health – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

One area she is an expert in is in sleep problems and substance use. Her research has shown that sleep problems in childhood, such as not being able to sleep well, predicted subsequent substance use, including earlier onset of drinking, illicit drug use and smoking in adolescence.

Moreover, her research found that childhood and adolescent sleep problems also predicted alcohol and drug-related problems in young adulthood. Her research focuses on understanding the sleep-substance use relationship and the variables that may explain or change this relationship.

Another line of Wong’s research focuses on understanding the risk and protective factors of youth suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people in the United States. Her research focuses on understanding the role of sleep in suicidal ideation and attempts and how this relationship changes in the context of substance use.

For more information on the Rally for Medical Research visit the website rallyformedicalresearch.org/.