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Faculty and Staff Directory

Sterling McPherson, PhD

Associate Professor
Assistant Dean for Research
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). Within PEAR, he is the Head and Principal Investigator of the Analytics and Psychopharmacology Laboratory (APPL). He has secured more than $35 million in grants and contracts as PI or Co-I from NIH (eight different institutes/centers) and 14 other agencies and is involved in multiple research projects ranging from basic human toxicology to health economics. He has led several treatment and treatment development focused projects and has significant clinical research experience having successfully recruited participants with alcohol, drug and tobacco use disorders. He has been part of 20 randomized controlled trials in the last nine years and was competitively chosen to become an NIH Fellow of the Summer Institute on Behavioral Randomized Clinical Trials. He is also the Site PI for the Pacific Northwest Node of the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network grant and he is a Co-Principal Investigator for an NIH P20 Center of Excellence focused on addiction treatment among rural American Indians. He has published 90 peer-reviewed research articles in these domains and is a grant reviewer for the NIH and five other sponsors. He has reviewed for more than 25 journals and is on the Editorial Board of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and Addiction. Recently, he has partnered with four different industry sponsors to pursue novel alcohol and drug use treatment technology. Lastly, he is dedicated to international research with active collaborations across seven different countries.

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


  • Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, 2019
  • 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 90; see My NCBI for a complete list)

  1. McPherson SM, Burduli E, Smith C, Herron J, Oluwoye O, Hirchak K, Orr MF, McDonell MG, Roll JM A review of contingency management for the treatment of substance use disorders: Adaptation for underserved populations, use of experimental technologies, and personalized optimization strategies. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. In Press. PubMed PMID: Not Available.
  2. Burduli E, Skalisky J, Hirchak K, Orr MF, Foote A, Granbois A, Ries R, Roll J, McDonell MG, Buchwald D, McPherson S. Contingency management intervention targeting co-addiction of alcohol and drugs among American Indian adults: Design, methodology, and baseline data. Clinical Trials. In press.
  3. Orr MF, Smith C, Finlay M, Martin SC, Brooks O, Oluwoye O, Leickly E, McDonell M, Burduli E, Barbosa-Leiker C, Layton M, Roll JM, McPherson SM. Pilot investigation: Randomized controlled analog trial for alcohol and tobacco smoking co-addiction using contingency management. Behav Pharmacol. In press.
  4. McPherson S, Burduli E, Lederhos C, Brooks O, Orr M, Barbosa-Leiker C, Hoesktra T, McDonell M, Murphy S, Layton M, Roll J. Predictors of tobacco and alcohol co-use from ages 15 to 32: The Amsterdam Growth and Health Longitudinal Study. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. In press.
  5. McPherson S, Orr M, Lederhos C, McDonell M, Leickly E, Hirchak K, Oluwoye OA, Murphy S, Layton M, Roll J. Decreases in smoking during treatment for methamphetamine use disorders: Preliminary evidence. Behav Pharmacol. In press.
  6. McPherson S, Lederhos C, Dobscha SK, Morasco BJ, Demidenko MI, Meath THA, Lovejoy TI. Changes in pain intensity following discontinuation of long-term opioid therapy for chronic non-cancer pain. Pain. In press.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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

Head and Principal Investigator of the Analytics and Psychopharmacology Laboratory (APPL)