Areas of Research Excellence

In the areas of Biobehavioral Neuroscience, Health Disparities and Illness Self-Management, and Population Health & Wellness: Health Promotion, Systems and Informatics, College of Nursing faculty are making discoveries to improve human health. These areas of excellence align with the research strengths of the University of Arizona - one of the country's most respected research institutions - and the UA Health Sciences - a leader in health-sciences education and scholarship - to provide opportunities for students’ development as nurse scientists and scholars.

►Biobehavioral Neuroscience:

The interaction among biological and behavioral processes of brain and other neurological illness/health experiences, with particular emphasis on stroke and cognitive and affective symptoms.

Research Faculty:

Stroke

Matthew J. Gallek, PhD, RN, CNRN
Functional outcomes following ischemic stroke and aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. Genomic and proteomic differences of people who survive these neurological injuries and the influence these differences have on outcomes. Research in ischemic stroke focuses on endothelial-neutrophil interaction. Research in subarachnoid hemorrhage focuses on calcium homeostasis and cerebral vasospasm.

Helena W. Morrison, PhD, RN
Pre-clinical stroke research to understand: 1) the role of sex differences and menopause in neuro-inflammatory mechanisms of brain injury during ischemic stroke and reperfusion, and 2) the effect of co-morbid conditions preceding stroke, such as hypertension, to alter neuro-inflammatory responses and the evolution of brain injury after ischemic stroke. 

Leslie Ritter, PhD, RN
Early microvascular inflammatory mechanisms of injury in the brain after ischemic stroke, how common conditions such as diabetes exaggerates injury, and how natural product treatments, for example, turmeric, might ameliorate that injury.

Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, PhD, RN, FAHA
Promote regular physical activity among adults with cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) by implementing innovative interventions such as Tai Chi, to reduce the negative impact of associated disabilities, improve physical functioning and quality of life. Using innovative technology, determine how physical function, cognitive impairment or psychosocial factors influence fall-related outcomes.

Cognitive/Affective Symptom Science

Terry A. Badger, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN
Psychosocial oncology intervention research with cancer survivors and their family support partners to 1) improve quality of life (psychological distress-[depression, anxiety, stress], physical wellbeing, social wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing) during cancer treatment and recovery, 2) develop and test cost-effective telephone/telehealth psychosocial intervention to reduce barriers to care and 3) recognize the dyadic interdependence in cancer survivor and partner in negative emotions (depression) and health. Special emphasis in working with Latinas with breast cancer and their family partners.

Kathleen C. Insel, PhD, RN
The influence of aging (developmental change), disease and treatment on cognitive function and the consequent association with capacity for self-management among older adults and children. Using a cognitive framework, interventions to improve self-management are tested.

Ki Moore, DNSc, RN, FAAN
Cognitive and neurobehavioral outcomes of central nervous system (CNS)-directed cancer therapy for childhood leukemia. Oxidative stress/oxidant defense, inflammation and apoptosis biomarkers of CNS-treatment related tissue injury and associated epigenetic modifications.

Thaddeus Pace, PhD
Stress-health biopsychological mechanisms; contemplative interventions to optimize psychological, inflammatory and endocrine responses to stress; integrative therapies (e.g. psychosocial support programs and botanicals) that target inflammation-related comorbidities; pathophysiological mechanisms of stress-related psychiatric illness; biopsychological mechanisms of health disparities.

Alla Sikorskii, PhD, MS
Measurement of symptoms and other patient-reported outcomes; methodology for evaluating interventions with patient-reported outcomes as endpoints; design and testing of adaptive multi-stage interventions for personalized cancer symptom management; cancer survivorship and caregiving; stochastic models for the electro-encephalogram data.

►Health Disparities and Illness Self-Management:

The promotion of health equity and reduction of health disparities through improved illness self-management (behaviors by patients and their families and communities living with illness, including treatments, symptoms, social role adjustment and cognitive/emotional management).

Research Faculty:

Terry A. Badger, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN
Psychosocial oncology intervention research with cancer survivors and their family support partners to 1) improve quality of life (psychological distress-[depression, anxiety, stress], physical wellbeing, social wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing) during cancer treatment and recovery, 2) develop and test cost-effective telephone/telehealth psychosocial intervention to reduce barriers to care and 3) recognize the dyadic interdependence in cancer survivor and partner in negative emotions (depression) and health. Special emphasis in working with Latinas with breast cancer and their family partners.

Janice D. Crist, PhD, RN, FNGNA, FAAN
Eliminating health-care use disparities for Mexican-American elders and their family caregivers in hospital-to-home and other transitions, including under-use of home health-care services and timely palliative care. Addressing systems-based policies and SES, cultural, family, community characteristics that contribute to disparities, through innovative interventions including virtual and media experiences such as telenovelas.

Charles A. Downs, PhD, ACNP-BC
Redox regulation of the epithelial sodium channel in the distal lung. The role of the receptor for advanced glycation end-products in the promotion of lung homeostasis. Using proteomics to identify post translational modifications that affect alveolar barrier integrity and fluid movement in the distal lung.

Kathleen C. Insel, PhD, RN
The influence of aging (developmental change), disease and treatment on cognitive function and the consequent association with capacity for self-management among older adults and children. Using a cognitive framework, interventions to improve self-management are tested.     

Mary S. Koithan, PhD, RN, APRN, BC
Integrative, community-based models of care that blend biomedical and integrative therapeutic strategies to improve whole person/whole systems outcomes in chronically ill populations. Particular emphasis on care coordination for cancer survivors and their families, and decreasing cancer care disparities in Native American tribal communities.

Marylyn M. McEwen, PhD, PHCNS-BC, FAAN
Community-based intervention research with Mexican American adults with Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and their family members to improve behavioral, biologic and family social capital outcomes. Illness management for Mexican-American women with co-occurring chronic illnesses – T2DM and ischemic heart disease. The U.S.-Mexico border is the geopolitical context. 

Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN
Intervention research on health behavior change for underserved populations such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian immigrants through efficacy and effectiveness trials to increase breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, and diabetes self-management. Global research focus is on One Health, cervical cancer control and Human Papilloma Virus genotyping in Ethiopia and India.

Thaddeus Pace, PhD
Stress-health biopsychological mechanisms; contemplative interventions to optimize psychological, inflammatory and endocrine responses to stress; integrative therapies (e.g. psychosocial support programs and botanicals) that target inflammation-related comorbidities; pathophysiological mechanisms of stress-related psychiatric illness; biopsychological mechanisms of health disparities.

Anne G. Rosenfeld, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN
Symptom management for women with acute coronary syndrome, including the recognition of symptoms, the influence of treatment-seeking delay on clinical outcomes, and gender differences in symptoms. Illness management for Mexican-American women with both Type 2 diabetes mellitus and ischemic heart disease. 

Kimberly D. Shea, PhD, RN
Usability (feedback, persuasion, human factors, interface) of community-based technologies (telehealth, telemonitoring, mhealth, smart devices, health homes) for symptom palliation and/or management to improve patient outcomes; motivation of self-care behaviors; aging in place, safety, caregiver support, enhancement of provider care; and improvement of health-care systems.

Alla Sikorskii, PhD, MS
Measurement of symptoms and other patient-reported outcomes; methodology for evaluating interventions with patient-reported outcomes as endpoints; design and testing of adaptive multi-stage interventions for personalized cancer symptom management; cancer survivorship and caregiving; stochastic models for the electro-encephalogram data.

Laura Szalacha, Ed.D.
Longitudinal studies of health disparities, working particularly with underserved minority and marginalized populations. Intervention studies of breast, cervical and colon cancer screening among South Asian immigrants, Korean Americans, and American veterans; nurse managed care and STIs with low-income African American females, and acculturation among immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The operationalization of culture and its relationship to health and well-being outcomes.

Shu-Fen Wung, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAAN
Appropriate and safe use of technology (for example, physiology monitors and genetics) for individualized patient monitoring/surveillance across health care settings; develop evidence-based patient and/or population norms to guide clinicians on optimal patient surveillance for safe quality care. The populations and areas of interest are: 1. Physiologic monitor alarms and alarm management; 2. Development of algorithms for predicting patient deterioration; 3. Racial differences in atrial fibrillation screening, symptoms and complications; 4. Acquired long QT syndrome surveillance and management; and 5. Acute posterior and right ventricular myocardial infarction. 

►Population Health & Wellness: Health Promotion, Systems and Informatics

The understanding and prevention of disease, and promotion of health and wellness through interventions; the use of systems and informatics (the integration of data, information and knowledge to support decision-making) to promote health and well-being.

Research Faculty:

Health Promotion

Mary S. Koithan, PhD, RN, APRN, BC
Integrative, community-based models of care that blend biomedical and integrative therapeutic strategies to improve whole person/whole systems outcomes in chronically ill populations. Particular emphasis on care coordination for cancer survivors and their families, and decreasing cancer care disparities in Native American tribal communities.

Lois J. Loescher, PhD, RN, FAAN
Model-based, mixed methods, interdisciplinary and international cancer prevention and control research focusing on new technology interventions to enhance skin cancer detection and management by clinicians (including NPs) and patients. Concepts of interest that overlap with other high-risk populations include risk processes (risk perception, reduction, assessment, communication) and technology acceptance. 

Usha Menon, PhD, RN, FAAN
Intervention research on health behavior change for underserved populations such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian immigrants through efficacy and effectiveness trials to increase breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening, and diabetes self-management. Global research focus is on One Health, cervical cancer control and Human Papilloma Virus genotyping in Ethiopia and India.

Kate G. Sheppard, PhD, RN, FNP, PMHNP-BC, FAANP
Compassion fatigue among health-care providers including approaches to 1) improving conceptual clarity, 2) developing methods to detect compassion fatigue, and 3) testing interventions including self-care techniques to reduce symptoms and promote mental and physical wellness.

Systems and Informatics

Barbara B. Brewer, PhD, RN, MALS, MBA, FAAN
Professional practice environment and systems effectiveness research, including dynamic network analysis, performance improvement and evaluation of patient and organizational quality, safety, and cost outcomes.

Jane M. Carrington, PhD, RN
Effectiveness of the electronic health record as a communication system with emphasis on nurse-to-nurse communication. Human factors research methods and elements of cognitive science are used to better understand how nurses communicate patient status for the purpose of increasing patient safety and quality care.

Sheila M. Gephart, RN, PhD
Prevention and early recognition of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants, including the development of predictive models, design of early warning systems and study of usable clinical decision support. Design and psychometric evaluation of instruments including the Unintended Consequences of Electronic Health Record Questionnaire and the GutCheckNEC clinical risk index.

Kimberly D. Shea, PhD, RN
Usability (feedback, persuasion, human factors, interface) of community-based technologies (telehealth, telemonitoring, mhealth, smart devices, health homes) for symptom palliation and/or management to improve patient outcomes; motivation of self-care behaviors; aging in place, safety, caregiver support, enhancement of provider care; and improvement of health-care systems. 

Shu-Fen Wung, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC, FAAN
Appropriate and safe use of technology (for example, physiology monitors and genetics) for individualized patient monitoring/surveillance across health care settings; develop evidence-based patient and/or population norms to guide clinicians on optimal patient surveillance for safe quality care. The populations and areas of interest are: 1. Physiologic monitor alarms and alarm management; 2. Development of algorithms for predicting patient deterioration; 3. Racial differences in atrial fibrillation screening, symptoms and complications; 4. Acquired long QT syndrome surveillance and management; and 5. Acute posterior and right ventricular myocardial infarction.