University of California Irvine’s Holman Named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’

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August 31, 2010                                                                           202/371-1999
University of California Irvine’s Holman Named a
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Trauma Researcher is Selected for Prestigious
Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
Irvine, Calif.—E. Alison Holman, Ph.D., F.N.P., a nurse researcher, health psychologist and assistant professor in the Nursing Science Program at the University of California Irvine, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study how genetic susceptibility influences acute and post-traumatic stress and its role in the development of cardiovascular disorders among those who experience traumatic events. Holman 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 award,” Holman said. “The support I receive will give me the time and mentoring that I need to explore genetic processes that help explain why some people who experience trauma are more prone to mental and physical problems than others who experience those same events.”
For her project, Holman will examine genetic predictors of acute stress response and cardiovascular disorders such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. The goal is to identify genetic markers that link acute stress and cardiovascular disorders following exposure to traumatic events. The findings would be used to identify people who may benefit from pharmacologic interventions to prevent the onset of post-traumatic stress and cardiovascular disorders.
Holman’s research builds on a three-year study that she and her colleagues conducted in the wake of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In that project, she followed a representative sample of more than 2,700 people nationwide and found that people who experienced high levels of acute stress immediately after the attacks were more likely to report new-onset cardiovascular disorders in the years following them.
“I suspect there’s a window of time after a traumatic event in which health professionals can intervene to prevent people who are genetically susceptible to certain stress-related illnesses from acquiring them,” Holman said. “This project will help us learn if it is possible to use genetics to identify vulnerable people and whether targeted pharmacologic interventions can prevent mental and physical health problems among people who experience acute stress.”
Ellen Olshansky, D.N.Sc., R.N.C., W.H.N.P.-B.C., F.A.A.N., professor and director of the Program in Nursing Science at the University of California Irvine, and Daniele Piomelli, Ph.D., a professor and the Turner Arnold Chair of the Neurosciences Department of Pharmacology at the University of California Irvine, will serve as Holman’s mentors.
“Dr. Holman’s study represents an important step in understanding the genetic links between mental and physical disorders,” Olshansky said. “Her research is timely and significant and has the potential to improve the health of people who experience trauma in their lives.”
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
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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.