(Los Angeles – July 19, 2012) Deborah Koniak-Griffin, EdD, RNC, FAAN and Professor at the UCLA School of Nursing was selected by the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research (FNINR) to receive the 2012 Pathfinder Award. 

This award is given by FNINR to acknowledge a nurse researcher whose work has focused on advancing deep understanding of human health and health care, and has been sustained by multiple grants from NINR/NCNR. 

"As a public health nurse, Koniak-Griffin saw firsthand the health challenges and risk factors faced by adolescent parents and their children," said Courtney H. Lyder, Dean of the UCLA School of Nursing.  "Her work with vulnerable populations has advanced health promotion across the nation.  We are very proud of our colleague and her contributions."

Over the course of her career, Dr. Koniak‐Griffin has maintained a highly successful program of research focused on combating health disparities among young parents from ethnic and racial minority groups. As a Principal Investigator, her work has been continuously supported by grants from NINR since 1993, thus she boasts almost 20 years of Institute funding, primarily the R01 and P30 mechanisms. Perhaps most notable, Dr. Koniak‐Griffin established and directed the first federally funded Nursing Center of Excellence at the UCLA School of Nursing, the Center for Vulnerable Populations Research (CVPR, 1999‐2011), which has supported the multiple projects of faculty and pre‐ and post‐doctoral fellows. Most recently, the translational nature of her work has resulted in her assuming a nursing leadership position on the UCLA Clinical and Translational Research Institute, serving as co‐leader for the Evaluation and tracking program.
Dr. Koniak-Griffin has provided highly important, unique and theory based interventions for a significant public health problem: adolescents at risk for STDs (including HIV), unplanned pregnancy, and teen parenthood. Three of her interventional programs have been selected by the US Department of Health and Human Services as evidence based models.

  • Under the Affordable Health Care Act, states may receive funding for implementation of the Public Health Nursing Early Intervention Program for Adolescent Mothers, which meets the federal criteria of excellence based on positively impacting family health through home visitation.
  • Be Proud! Be Responsible! Be Protective! is a model program for reducing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in adolescent mothers that is currently being translated into practice in seven states.
  • In 2012, Respecto/Proteger, a couple-focused HIV prevention program was added to the list in the category of sexually-transmitted disease prevention and is being promoted as a model intervention by the USDHHS Office of Adolescent Health.

The Pathfinder Award will be presented to Dr. Koniak-Griffin at the annual FNINR NightinGala on September 12 in Washington DC.