Columbia University’s Hickey Named Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’


NEWS RELEASE                                                     Contact: Gretchen Wright or Johanna Diaz
September 24, 2009                                                                   202/371-1999
Columbia University’s Hickey Named
 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’
Genetics Researcher Working with Cardiac Patients is Selected for Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of the Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty
New York, N.Y.—Kathleen Hickey, EdD, C-ANP, C-FPN, Assistant Professor of Nursing at The Columbia University School of Nursing, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to conduct innovative research on genetic mutations that may predispose individuals to a higher possibility of sudden cardiac death. Hickey is one of just 15 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 this month.
“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will allow me to focus on a melding nursing and genetics to improve cardiac outcomes in those at risk for sudden cardiac death. Depending on the outcomes, the possibilities for early intervention and prevention could be great,” Hickey said.
For her research, Hickey will examine patients with previously implanted internal cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) and a history of long QT syndrome and cardiomyopathy to determine whether they possess an underlying cardiac genetic mutation. Her research will determine whether having a specific cardiac mutation increases the prevalence of arrhythmias detected by the ICD and possibly identify other family members who may be at risk well before a life threatening arrhythmia occurs. Armed with the proper information, medical professionals could intervene with medication and/or a defibrillator to prevent sudden cardiac death.
“In my clinical work, in an era prior to genetic testing I have cared for many patients with defibrillators and in some instances have learned that other family members also possess the same underlying arrhythmia. Knowing ahead of time that a genetic predisposition exists within a family could allow us to move forward in our preventative efforts,” said Hickey.
Elaine Larson, Ph.D., R.N., Associate Dean for Research and Professor at the School of Nursing at Columbia University, and Wendy Chung, MD, Ph.D., a Professor of Pediatrics in Medicine at Columbia University, will serve as her mentors.
“Few nursing scholars have looked into the connection between genetics and sudden cardiac death” Larson said. “Hickey’s groundbreaking work has the potential to radically change how we view and treat heart patients and their families.”
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s“Nurse Faculty Scholar” award 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 severe shortage of nurse educators that threatens to undermine the health and health care of all Americans. Many nursing schools lack the resources needed to hire and support enough faculty to train the next generation of nurses. As a result, nursing schools are turning away thousands of qualified applicants—rejecting the very people who can help reverse a serious looming nurse shortage. As the supply of nurses shrinks and the demand for their services grows, patient care will suffer.
The Foundation’s “Nurse Faculty Scholars” program aims to curb the effects of the nursing 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.
The 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.