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Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Faculty Directory

Sterling McPherson, PhD

Associate Professor
Director for Biostatistics and Clinical Trial Design


Ph.D., Experimental Psychology (Applied Quantitative Methods), Washington State University, Pullman, WA
M.S., Experimental Psychology (Applied Quantitative Methods), Washington State University, Pullman, WA
B.A., Psychology (with honors), Whitworth University, Spokane, WA
B.A., Sociology (with honors), Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

Residency & Postgraduate Training

Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse, Washington State University, Spokane, WA

National Institutes of Health Fellow, Summer Institute on Randomized Clinical Trials, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR)

Career Information

Dr. McPherson is Director for Biostatistics and Clinical Trial Design at the Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and Associate Director of Research for Analytics and Discovery at the Providence Medical Research Center. He is also Executive Faculty at the Program of Excellence in Addictions Research (PEAR). He has secured more than $22 million in grants and contracts as PI or Co-I from NIH and 10 other agencies, and is involved in multiple research projects ranging from basic human laboratory toxicology experiments to health policy and economics. He is the WSU Site PI for the Pacific Northwest Node of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (Node PI: Dennis Donovan) and Co-PI of an NIH-funded P20 Center of Excellence, wherein his primary role is to oversee the administration, management, design, and analysis of three randomized controlled trials for drug and alcohol use treatment and prevention among American Indians. Eight NIH institutes/centers (NIAAA, NIDA, NIA, NHLBI, NIDDK, NIMHD, NCATS, NINDS), NSF, CDC, Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Affairs, Life Sciences Discovery Fund, American Beverage Association, Community Pharmacy Association, Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program, Providence Health Care, Washington State Attorney’s General Office, and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation have funded his work.

Dr. McPherson has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles on various topics, all related to drug/alcohol use, psychopharmacology, biostatistics and methodology and kidney health. He is a reviewer for the NIH and four other sponsors. He is also on the Editorial Board for Psychology of Addictive Behaviors and Statistical Editor for the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. He has reviewed for more than 20 other journals including Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. His research focuses on combined behavioral-pharmacotherapeutic treatment development for co-morbid tobacco smoking and alcohol/stimulant addiction. In addition, he is examining the nexus of kidney disease progression and non-traditional behavioral risk factors (e.g., drug and alcohol use, mental health). All of this work is leveraged with an ongoing interest and expertise in novel analytic methodologies to answer relevant clinical research questions. Dr. McPherson is also dedicated to international research with active collaborations across eight countries. More recently, he has been able to partner with industry on several projects designed to utilize new technologies that can more rapidly and efficiently deliver investigational interventions for substance use disorders.

Professional Memberships

College of Problems on Drug Dependence
Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse (APA Division 28)
Addictions (APA Division 50)
Evaluation, Measurement, Statistics (APA Division 5)
American Society of Nephrology


Associated Students of Washington State University Spokane, Student’s Choice Award for Faculty Excellence, 2012

Early Career Travel Award, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the American Psychological Association (APA) Divisions 28 (Psychopharmacology and Drug Abuse) and 50 (Addictions), 2012

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications (selected from more than 50; see My NCBI for a complete list)

McPherson S, Packer RR, Cameron JM, Howell DN, Roll JM. Biochemical marker of use is a better predictor of outcomes than self-report metrics in a contingency management smoking cessation analog study. Am J Addict. 2014;23(1):15-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.12059.x. PubMed PMID: 24313236.

McPherson S, Howell D, Cameron JM, Barbosa-Leiker C, Metoyer PB, Roll JM. Self-Reported smoking effects and comparative value between cigarettes and high dose e-cigarettes in nicotine dependent cigarette smokers. Behav Pharmacol. 2016;27(2-3 Spec Issue):301-307. doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000226. PubMed PMID: 26886210.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C. An example of a two-part latent growth curve model for semicontinuous outcomes in the health sciences. J Appl Stat. 2012;39(10):2113-28. doi: 10.1080/02664763.2012.702205. PubMed PMID: ISI:000308241300003.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C. Biomarker classification derived from finite growth mixture modeling with a time-varying covariate: an example with phosphorus and glomerular filtration rate. J Appl Stat. 2015;42(2):409-27. PMID: Not available.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C, Short R, Tuttle KR. Classification of Chronic Kidney Disease Biomarkers to Predict Coronary Artery Calcium. Kidney Blood Press Res. 2012;36(1):26-35. Epub 2012/07/11. doi: 10.1159/000339024. PubMed PMID: 22777315.

Mamey, MR, Barbosa-Leiker C, McPherson S, Burns GL, Parks C, Roll J. An application of analyzing the trajectories of two disorders: A parallel piecewise growth model of substance and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 2015 Dec;23(6):422-7. doi: 10.1037/pha0000047. PubMed PMID: 26389639.

McPherson S, Brooks O, Barbosa-Leiker C, Lederhos C, Lamp A, Murphy S, Layton M, Roll J. Examining stimulant use and attendance as parallel treatment outcomes in two contingency management clinical trials. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2016 Feb;61:18-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2015.08.008. PubMed PMID: 26456717.

McDonell MG, Srebnik D, Angelo F, McPherson S, Lowe JM, Sugar A, Short RA, Roll JM, Ries RK. Randomized controlled trial of contingency management for stimulant use in community mental health patients with serious mental illness. Am J Psychiatry. 2013;170(1):94-101. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11121831. PubMed PMID: 23138961; PMCID: PMC4242089.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C, Burns GL, Howell D, Roll J. Missing data in substance abuse treatment research: Current methods and modern approaches. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2012;20(3):243-50. Epub 2012/02/15. doi: 10.1037/a0027146. PubMed PMID: 22329556.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C, McDonell M, Howell D, Roll J. Longitudinal missing data strategies for substance use clinical trials using generalized estimating equations: an example with a buprenorphine trial. Human psychopharmacology. 2013;28(5):506-15. doi: 10.1002/hup.2339. PubMed PMID: 24014144.

McPherson S, Barbosa-Leiker C, Mamey MR, McDonell M, Enders CK, Roll J. A ‘Missing Not at Random’ (MNAR) and ‘Missing at Random’ (MAR) Growth Model Comparison with a Buprenorphine/Naloxone Clinical Trial. Addiction. 2014. doi: 10.1111/add.12714. PubMed PMID: 25170740.

Gorelick D, McPherson S. Improving the analysis and modeling of substance use data. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2015;41(6):475-8. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2015.1085264. Epub 2015 Sep 25. PMID: : 26407028.

Sterling McPherson, PhD
Associate Professor
Director for Biostatistics and Clinical Trial Design
(509) 324-7459