Research is a core priority of the UCLA School of Nursing. In the last three years, the school has achieved a 58% increase in funded research.
“Nursing is an evidence-based profession and evidence comes from research,” says Associate Dean for Research Holli A. DeVon, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA. “Our faculty advance new knowledge through their discoveries, and in many cases, this new knowledge results in new practice guidelines.”
Faculty consistently receive National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and publish in prestigious journals including Circulation, Journal of the American Heart Association, Journal of Advanced Nursing and Journal of Medical Informatics.
School of Nursing faculty and students explore a range of topics designed to advance health and wellness. Areas of focus include cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia and cognitive function, genetics, and infectious disease. The faculty also boasts experts in child and adolescent health, community health, health issues among diverse populations, health equity, and informatics.
Some highlights of recent and ongoing research include:
Dr. Dong Sung An develops stem cell based gene therapy for an HIV cure. Current anti-HIV drugs, which must be taken daily, cannot provide a cure. Dr. An uses a lentiviral vector and CRISPR/Cas gene editing technologies to introduce anti-HIV genes to protect blood stem cells. Anti-HIV gene modified stem cells permanently produce HIV protected mature blood cells. This approach could potentially cure HIV infection with a single treatment.
Early Detection for Pressure Injuries
Working with UCLA professors in computer science and bioengineering, Dr. Barbara Bates-Jenson invented a biophysical measure that senses skin changes before they become visible. This device may provide early detection for pressure injuries. Her current study takes place in eight nursing homes and has implications for wound care in a variety of settings.
Adverse Childhood Experiences
Dr. Kristen Choi analyzes how the brain and behavioral development of young teens is affected when they experience adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) simultaneously at home and in the community. School violence and racial discrimination are two of the ACEs under study. Dr. Choi and her team focus on racial and ethnic minority youth and pursue their research in conjunction with the NIH’s Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study.
Identifying Heart Attack Symptoms
Dr. Holli DeVon designed a 13-item Acute Coronary Syndrome Checklist to measure the symptoms of patients having a heart attack. About ten countries worldwide have adopted the checklist. Dr. DeVon’s studies show women often have more and slightly different heart attack symptoms than men. Her work has shaped scientific statements from the American Heart Association and spurred emergency departments to modify their assessments.
Improving Health Outcomes of Vulnerable Populations
Dr. Robert Lucero looks at how innovative health systems and informatics approaches, including artificial intelligence and mobile health, can improve health outcomes of vulnerable populations. This includes enhancing the quality of care for hospitalized older adults as well as improving self-management of chronic health conditions among Hispanic, African American and LGBTQ+ populations.
The UCLA School of Nursing’s Office of Research and Innovation staff support faculty, PhD students, and post-doctoral fellows throughout the cycle of a grant. They provide expertise in all aspects of research, ranging from statistics and methods to regulatory compliance. School of Nursing research also benefits from the university’s extensive resources, including UCLA’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The school also works closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.
Devoted to training the next generation of nurse scientists and clinical leaders, faculty members embrace their role as mentors to PhD students and post-doctoral fellows. Undergraduate and masters-level students have opportunities to participate in research through work-study programs and faculty grants. Incoming senior undergraduate nursing students around the country who are interested in pursuing research may apply to the School of Nursing’s eight-week Summer Research Program. Mentoring and research opportunities for PhD students is readily available.