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October 14, 2016

Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing Scholars 2016-2017
By Patricia Eckardt, PhD, RN

Dr. Teresa Hagan’s research focuses on how women with a history of cancer advocate for their health needs and well-being. Her proposed study will develop and test a web-based interactive game to teach women with advanced cancer how to advocate for their own care. Her ultimate goal is to create nurse-led, interactive educational interventions based in psychology that aim to reduce cancer inequities related to lack of patient self-advocacy.

Dr. Hagan is a postdoctoral research fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. She received her Ph.D. in nursing science and her B.S.N. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Dr. Hagan has published eight peer-reviewed articles and two articles related to methods and policy, and has co-authored a book chapter on oncology, women’s health, self-advocacy, and symptom management. Dr. Hagan is the recipient of an F31 training grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a doctoral scholarship in cancer nursing from the American Cancer Society. She is currently a Jonas Policy Scholar with the American Academy of Nursing and serves on its Women’s Health Expert Panel. She is active in the Massachusetts chapter of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition as well as several other community and cancer organizations.

Dr. Paule Joseph plans to study predictive models of how brain–gut interactions underlie human eating behavior and obesity. Her goal is to find new approaches to improve personalized nutrition and prevent weight gain in both children and adults. With the support of the Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award, Dr. Joseph will answer key questions about eating behavior, the microbiome, and obesity, incorporating both clinical and bench science approaches.

Dr. Joseph is currently a clinical and translation postdoctoral fellow at the NINR Digestive Disorders Unit, Biobehavioral Branch at NIH. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and her M.S. as a family nurse practitioner from Pace University. Her research interest in eating behavior, genetics, obesity, symptom management, and gastrointestinal disorders stems from her clinical and research experience as a gastroenterology nurse and family nurse practitioner. Dr. Joseph’s goal is to lead and mentor the next generation of research leaders from diverse and disadvantaged background as  independent scientists at leading research institutions.

Ms. Krista Knudson is interested in how individuals and families experience illnesses requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, a complex rescue treatment for severe but potentially reversible heart or lung failure. Ms. Knudson plans to examine experiences from the perspectives of both patients and their family members, and use her findings to identify opportunities for patient- and family-centered practice changes that may ultimately lead to improved outcomes.

A doctoral candidate at Yale University, Ms. Knudson aims to develop a program of research centered on understanding and addressing the short- and long-term needs of critically ill patients and their families.

Ms. Melissa Kurtz’s study will explore factors that influence decision-making by parents of newborns in neonatal intensive-care units (NICU). Outcomes from this study will inform the development of decision-support interventions for parents, with the goal of reducing long-term risks to parent psychological health.

Ms. Kurtz is a doctoral candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. She has 15 years’ experience caring for NICU patients and their families. Her long-term goal is to become an independent nurse scientist and develop a program of research targeting the needs of parents with critically ill children.

For her dissertation research, Ms. Kristen Weaver is examining brain–gut axis dysregulation in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), conducting an exploratory investigation for markers of stress. The Heilbrunn funding will allow her to build upon this work to explore the role of sex hormones, leptin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor in modulating the brain–gut axis of patients with IBS, incorporating physiological measurements, patient-related factors, and molecular technologies.

Ms. Weaver worked as a nurse practitioner in gastroenterology while pursuing a Ph.D. in nursing from New York University, and received an Intramural Research Training Award from the NIH in 2015. Through the Graduate Partnership Program between NYU and the NINR, she is now conducting her dissertation research in the Digestive Disorders Unit, Biobehavioral Branch, of NINR’s Intramural Research Program.