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June 1, 2009

Funds Pledged to Endow the Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing at The Rockefeller University Hospital
By Angela Slattery and Melissa Offenhartz

Photo credit: Star Black
Marilyn A. Deluca, Ph.D., R.N., guest speaker at the second Beatrice Renfield Lectureship in Research Nursing titled 'Nursing in the 21st Century: Challenges & Opportunities', addresses an audience of over one hundred nurses from the greater New York area.
The Rockefeller University received a generous pledge from Helaine Lerner and Joan Rechnitz, daughters of the late Robert and Harriet Heilbrunn, for the creation of the new Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing at The Rockefeller University Hospital. The Center will establish a home for the profession of clinical research nursing. While the specialty of clinical research nursing is still emerging, this dedicated center and its funding will help to more fully develop resources, educational materials, training, and disseminating of expertise for the professional role of clinical research nurses.

“This wonderful gift is so appropriate for Rockefeller University,” stated Melissa Offenhartz, Director of Nursing and Patient Care Services at the Rockefeller University Hospital, “because in many ways the field of clinical research nursing was born at Rockefeller University. The Hospital was staffed with expert and caring research nurses from the very beginning. The research nurse has to focus on both patient care and conducting scientific research at the highest standard. This new Center will continue Rockefeller’s tradition of innovation in clinical research nursing.”

Part of this pledge includes a new collaboration with the highly successful Women & Science initiative, which was established in 1997 to: highlight the crucial role of basic research in addressing scientific challenges related to women's health, showcase the contributions of women scientists, create a program of support for women scientists, and encourage more women to embrace scientific research as a focus of their philanthropy. The annual Beatrice Renfield lecture, which highlights Nursing and is now part of Women & Science series, will now be dedicated to clinical research nursing. On April 28, 2009, Dr. Marilyn DeLuca, a consultant in healthcare and philanthropy, gave the inaugural lecture.
The Heilbrunn Research Nursing Center will focus on the nursing care of patients involved in research studies. It will provide the opportunity for nurses to continue the development of the specialty practice of clinical research nursing, including new standards of care specific to research patients, a clinical research nursing textbook, and new instructional materials.

One of the Center’s goals is to have clinical research nursing represented in undergraduate nursing curricula so that nursing students learn about the extraordinary opportunities in the field of clinical research nursing. The Center also plans to be a site for onsite training of undergraduate students with an interest in research nursing. “The Center will offer a home for the student to be involved in research and learn more about research nursing.” Melissa Offenhartz concluded, “It really is a wonderful opportunity to fully develop clinical research nursing as a specialty practice.” Dr. Barry Coller, Physician-in-Chief, added, “The Heilbrunn family’s support of the Rockefeller University Hospital and of research nursing is truly inspirational. Their vision and generosity will allow us to build on our great tradition in research nursing and become the center for education, research, and innovation in this vital component of clinical and translational research.”