Duke University’s Knobel Named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’

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August 31, 2010                                                                           202/371-1999
Duke University’s Knobel Named a
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Neonatal Health Researcher Studying Extremely Premature Babies is Selected for
Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Durham, N.C.—Robin Knobel, Ph.D., R.N.C., an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at Duke University, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the mysterious physiology of extremely premature infants. Knobel is one of just 12 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins next month.
“I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious and meaningful award,” Knobel said.
“The support I receive will give me the time and mentoring that I need to study abnormal neurological processes in extremely premature infants that can cause serious health problems and even death.”
For her project, Knobel will study babies who are born at less than 29 weeks of gestation. Babies born at this early age are frequently exposed to cold air during nursing and medical procedures in the first few days of life. These babies have immature neurological systems and little ability to generate their own heat or regulate their blood flow. As a result, they are at risk of developing gastrointestinal infections, bleeding in the brain and other potentially lethal complications.
Knobel’s research builds on a previous study she conducted that found that extremely premature babies suffer from abnormal blood flow that keeps hands and feet warmer than body cores. Colder temperatures indicate low blood flow, which in turn is a sign of low oxygen levels—a precursor of health problems. In her current project, Knobel seeks to better understand the physiological process that leads to low blood flow and cold temperatures; her ultimate goal is to find ways to correct for this abnormality among premature infants and stave off health complications.
Diane Holditch-Davis, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., the Marcus E. Hobbs Distinguished Professor Nursing at Duke University, and David Tanaka, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and neonatology at the School of Medicine and Pediatrics at Duke University, will serve as Knobel’s mentors.
“Every year, 30,000 extremely premature babies are born in the United States,” Holditch-Davis said. “These babies are at high risk of life-threatening complications in their first few weeks of life and are more likely to experience health problems as they grow up. Dr. Knobel’s research will ultimately help improve the odds that these babies will live longer, healthier lives and could lead to considerable savings to the U.S. health care system.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing. Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will vastly increase the number of people who can access health care in the United States. As the number of patients increases, there will be greater demand for skilled nurses and faculty to educate them. Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they lack the faculty to teach them.
The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping to curb the shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.
The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.
To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.
Several Nurse Faculty Scholars have been recognized for outstanding work since they were accepted into the program. In 2009, Scholar Kynna Wright-Volel, Ph.D., M.S.N., M.P.H., an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, won the Minority Health Community Trailblazer Award in 2009. It is given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in recognition of work to eliminate health disparities.
Earlier this year, Nurse Faculty Scholar Joachim Voss, Ph.D., R.N., A.C.R.N., an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Washington, received the 2010 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Voss was among only five faculty to receive this year’s award and the first professor from the School of Nursing ever to receive the honor. The Award is open to all faculty members at the University of Washington, which has 3,600 instructional faculty.
Three Nurse Faculty Scholars—Angela Amar, R.N., Ph.D. of the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College; Cynthia Anderson, Ph.D., W.H.N.P., an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at the University of North Dakota; and Nancy Hanrahan, R.N., Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing—will be inducted into the American Academy of Nursing this fall. Amar is using her RWJF grant to research the factors that encourage college women to report interpersonal violence, Anderson is looking at vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women from the rural, northern plains, and Hanrahan is studying outcomes from patients who are admitted to hospitals to receive psychiatric services. 
The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.
To learn more about the program, visit www.rwjfnursefacultyscholars.org.
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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we’ve brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime.