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Vol. LVII, No. 23
November 18, 2005

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Symposium Marks Start of NINR's 20th Anniversary

On Oct. 11, the National Institute of Nursing Research held a special symposium — "Nursing Research: Changing Practice, Changing Lives" — to kick-off its year-long 20th anniversary celebration. The symposium, held at the Natcher Bldg., highlighted many of the accomplishments of NINR and its scientists in advancing nursing science, and showcased the positive impact that their work has had on the lives of millions of Americans.

"As NINR enters its third decade, it is gratifying to look at how research funded by NINR is reducing the impact of illness, improving quality of life, reducing health care costs and changing practice," said NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady in opening remarks.

The symposium featured panel sessions highlighting research that is changing practice in four areas — end of life, HIV/AIDS and health disparities, new and emerging technologies, and symptom management and health promotion.

  NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady speaks at the kickoff to the institute's 20th aniversary symposium.

Since its designation in the late 1990's as lead institute for end-of-life research, NINR has helped frame the fundamental issues in this relatively young area of study. Investigators presented research on palliative care, spirituality, communication and advanced care planning.

The day's second session, on HIV/AIDS and health disparities, featured encouraging results from studies on prevention of HIV/AIDS in adolescent and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. and internationally.

The session on technology gave attendees a peek into the future of health care delivery with the presentation of the "Nursebot" project, an interdisciplinary, multi-university joint venture. The Nursebot is a mobile, programmable robot that can be used with home-bound elders and others with chronic conditions to help them walk and remind them to take medications. This project, which draws on the talents of researchers trained in psychology, occupational therapy, design, mechanical and electrical engineering, computer science, robotics and nursing science, underscores how interdisciplinary teamwork is becoming more important.

The session on symptom management and health promotion featured compelling studies that demonstrated how an intervention focusing on math skills significantly decreased the impact of certain chemotherapies on the intellectual function of children with leukemia. Other presenters discussed the long-term impact of health promotion and quality of life for persons with multiple sclerosis and methods to promote cardiac symptom awareness among women.

NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni was on hand to congratulate NINR on its accomplishments over the past 20 years and to acknowledge its valuable contributions to the NIH community.

Grady also took the opportunity to honor three distinguished leaders and former directors of NINR and its predecessor, the National Center for Nursing Research: Dr. Doris Merritt, Dr. Ada Sue Hinshaw and Dr. Suzanne Hurd. "Their unsurpassed dedication, energy, creativity and diligence have contributed enormously to the success NINR enjoys today," she said.

The symposium launches a year-long series of events and meetings on campus and across the country to celebrate the anniversary. A second symposium, scheduled for Oct. 11, 2006, will be the culmination of the year's events.