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University of Maryland School of Nursing’s Dorsey Receives Welch/Woerner Path-Paver Award From Friends of the National Institute of Nursing

November 18, 2019

Professor and chair honored for breakthrough research and influencing the next generation of nurses.

Baltimore, Md. – Susan G. Dorsey, PhD ’01, MS ’98, RN, FAAN, professor and chair, Department of Pain and Translational Symptom Science, University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON), and co-director of the Center to Advance Chronic Pain Research, University of Maryland, Baltimore, has received the 2019 Welch/Woerner Path-Paver Award from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research (FNINR).

Dorsey was honored at FNINR’s 2019 NightinGala in Washington, D.C., held Oct. 23, where she was presented with the award in recognition of her contributions to developing strategies for the use of multiomics (e.g., genomic, transcriptomic, epigenomic, metabolomic) methods to identify the biological mechanisms underlying symptoms and self-management of symptoms. This work has led to new discoveries regarding genomic factors of neuromuscular weakness in muscular dystrophy and in the transition from acute to chronic pain across numerous conditions. The translational potential of her work — the interface between bench research and clinical care — has led to nearly $27 million in National Institutes of Health research funding and numerous publications, honors, and awards. She has also worked to inspire researchers as they pursue their own multiomics research, innovation, and discovery.

The Welch/Woerner Path-Paver award recognizes a mid-to-late career nurse scientist who has achieved one or more breakthroughs in theory development, research methods, instruments, or subject matter that has paved the way for other scientists and who has influenced and mentored the next generation of nurse researchers.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award, which is named in honor of Dr. Colleen Conway-Welch, the former dean of the Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Ms. Louise Woerner, a founding member of FNINR,” Dorsey said. “It has been my great privilege to work with nurse scientists and trainees from around the country to advance the use of multiomics methods to more fully understand the symptoms associated with chronic disease and disease treatment, to improve the quality of life for those who suffer.” 

Dorsey’s research examines the molecular, cellular, and genetic factors associated with the development and persistence of chronic pain. More people suffer from chronic pain than from cancer, heart disease, and diabetes combined. Although people who suffer from chronic pain cost the United States more than $600 billion annually, there are few effective treatments that can reduce or eliminate chronic pain without significantly disrupting quality of life. Dorsey’s research seeks to remedy this problem.

“We congratulate Dr. Dorsey on her receipt of this very prestigious honor from FNINR,” said Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing. “Dr. Dorsey’s expertise and excellence in research encompasses the scientific skills and spirit of inquiry, which allow her to address difficult and significant problems as a nurse researcher in her own right, and she also possesses an exceptional ability to engage a wide range of interdisciplinary colleagues at both national and international levels to advance and accelerate high-impact science through multi-investigator grants and funded centers. Dr. Dorsey has worked tirelessly to assemble and lead teams to tackle clinical problems that have a high impact on quality of life and functional status. She is a gifted scientist able to translate science to the bedside and back to the bench, and we are thrilled that her work has been recognized by FNINR.”

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The University of Maryland School of Nursing, founded in 1889, is one of the oldest and largest nursing schools in the nation and is ranked among the top nursing schools nationwide. Enrolling nearly 2,000 students in its baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs, the School develops leaders who shape the profession of nursing and impact the health care environment.