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Vol. LVIII, No. 23
November 17, 2006

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Symposium Closes Nursing Institute’s 20th Anniversary

  NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady gives opening remarks at an event marking her institute’s 20th anniversary. To view the entire symposium, visit and go to Past Events.  
  NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady gives opening remarks at an event marking her institute’s 20th anniversary. To view the entire symposium, visit and go to Past Events.  

The National Institute of Nursing Research culminated its year-long celebration of 20 years at NIH on Oct. 11 with a scientific symposium titled “Nursing Research: Looking to the Future.” The event, held at Natcher auditorium, featured a lineup of luminaries in research and health policy, including the Hon. John E. Porter, former congressman from the 10th district of Illinois, who served on the appropriations committee and as chair of the subcommittee on labor, health and human services and education.

“We are witnessing the convergence of forces that will continue to exert a profound influence on our health care system and will be a potent driver of future research strategies,” said NINR director Dr. Patricia Grady in opening remarks. “These forces—the aging of the American population; the growth of diverse racial and cultural populations in the U.S. and the attendant issue of health disparities; the increased reliance on technology in health care; and the shortage of nurses, both current and projected—will need to be dealt with forcefully by our scientists and our policymakers if we are to continue to move the health care enterprise forward.”

She also read a letter from HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt, who congratulated NINR on “20 years of advancing the science of nursing and improving health care.”

Leavitt noted that NINR’s mission to establish a scientific basis for the care of individuals across the life span “has opened up entirely new areas of research and yielded advances that truly span our universe of health and disease…On this day of celebration, all Americans should be thankful for the efforts that NINR and its dedicated scientists put forth every day to change lives for the better. I wish you much continued success as a treasured member of the HHS family and the NIH research community.”

Each of the speakers examined one or more of the converging forces highlighted by Grady and predicted their impact on the future of research and health care.

Dr. Roger Bulger, acting deputy director, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, began the day with a presentation titled “The Future of Health Care: Implications for Nursing Research.” He expressed a desire to see quality health care made available to all Americans and noted how interdisciplinary teams, as well as technological advances such as the electronic medical record, can help make that vision a reality.

In her presentation, “The Frontiers in Aging Research,” Dr. Elizabeth Clipp, a nursing professor at Duke University and an expert on health trajectories in nursing science, pointed out how large interdisciplinary teams are recognizing the need for nursing expertise. She stressed the importance of nurses getting involved “from the very beginning of multidisciplinary protocols…We want to partner with [the interdisciplinary teams] so that our discipline and our ways of thinking can help shape and structure the protocols from day one rather than coming in at the end and adding a nursing perspective.”

Dr. Nilda Peragallo, dean of the University of Miami School of Nursing, spoke on “Expanding Opportunities in Health Disparities Research.” She noted the need for increased funding to support health disparities research, which can be achieved, she concluded, “by increasing the number of racial and ethnic and other health disparities populations in peer review groups who can provide their unique perspective to help judge which studies should be funded.”

In his talk, “Innovations in Home Telehealth,” Dr. Stanley Finkelstein, professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, showed how technological advances are connecting homebound individuals who require monitoring for a medical condition to their health care providers through the use of telemetry. He noted that most current products are too expensive, adding that “while many insurers want the manufacturers to provide evidence of saving before they agree to cover such care, many of the home tech companies are small, undercapitalized organizations that probably have the experience to do the trials but don’t have the financing to do it.” That’s why support being provided by NINR and other institutes is critical “to collect the data to show that it is a cost-effective and clinically effective technology,” he said.

Dr. Linda Aiken, professor of nursing and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, discussed why investments in nursing save lives. Her seminal research on why nursing shortages occur, how they affect health outcomes and what can be done to improve nursing contributions within the health care system has led health care administrators and policymakers to redefine what are acceptable minimal levels of qualified nursing personnel to ensure high-quality care. Aiken called for nurses “to reframe nursing outcomes research in a patient-safety context so that others [outside of nursing] would be able to understand and implement the findings of this research.”

The final presenter was Porter, who championed NIH during his 21 years on Capitol Hill and is currently a partner with the law firm of Hogan & Hartson and chair of the Research!America Paul G. Rogers Society for Global Health Research. Porter underscored the need for continued robust support for research, stating that “the economic destiny of America’s high-tech, high-paying jobs in a growing economy depends upon investment in all science and technology research including research in the life sciences and medicine…All of us must work as public citizens of this great country to make a difference for the things we believe in. For me, for you, NIH and NINR, medical research in the advance of human health and longevity top our list.” NIH Record Icon

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