News Around the School: Mary Jo Gilmer named to International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Professor Mary Jo Gilmer sits on steps in VUSN atrium. Her therapy colleague, a goldendoodle, sits next to her.

Vanderbilt School of Nursing Professor Mary Jo Gilmer, PhD, MBA, FAAN, has been selected for induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame by Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

The honor recognizes her significant, sustained international achievement and that her research has influenced the nursing profession and the people it serves. Entry into the Hall of Fame is considered one of the highest honors in nursing research.

A leading researcher in palliative care for children with life-threatening conditions, Gilmer serves as the co-director of the Pediatric Palliative Care Research Team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Her research interests include parent-sibling bereavement, parent-child communication and interventions to reduce suffering in children with cancer.

Gilmer’s funded work includes studies of the impact of a child’s death on bereaved families. The long-term goal is to use controlled, longitudinal research on the psychosocial outcomes of families affected by cancer and the loss of a child to develop interventions to reduce the suffering and morbidity of parents and siblings.

Gilmer is currently conducting a pilot study investigating the health benefits of human-animal interactions in reducing suffering of children with advanced cancer undergoing debilitating treatments. This pioneering project involves advancing knowledge in pediatric oncology and animal-assisted therapy, and has the potential of improving childhood cancer treatment.

Gilmer also holds an appointment as professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and is affiliated with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development and Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center.

Photo: Anne Rayner