The Rockefeller University Heilbrunn Alumni Research Network


2016 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar, Dr. Paule Joseph, Receives Brilliant New Investigator Award and Inaugural American Academy of Nursing/National Academy of Medicine Fellow

Dr. Paule Joseph received two awards which demonstrate her outstanding achievements. First, she was awarded the 2022 Brilliant New Investigator Award from the Council of the Advancement of Nursing Science based on her accomplishments since receiving her PhD. The second recognition is the selection as a Fellow at the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The American Academy of Nursing (AAN) partnered with NAM to advance interprofessional collaboration and to recommend sound policy on pressing issues related to public health. The purpose of the AAN NAM Fellowship program is to provide talented nurse scholars with an opportunity to experience and participate in evidence-based public health studies that improve the access of care to patients in domestic and global health care systems.

Dr. Joseph is a Lasker Clinical Investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). She is also an alum of the 2016 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar program. Dr. Joseph is an internationally known chemosensory-trained nurse scientist. Her seminal work on taste and smell disorders had proven highly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic when many reported the disease's loss of taste and smell. Her work also explores the intersection between chemosensation, environment, culture, dietary norms and behaviors, and the food industry as they relate to substance use disorders and obesity. Dr. Joseph also draws on her background to develop outreach and training initiatives that promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and access in biomedical research both within and outside the NIH.

The Heilbrunn Family Center for Research Nursing congratulates Dr. Joseph and the well-deserved recognition for advancing nursing research.

Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar – Cassandra Godzik – Fulbright Award

We are pleased to share that our Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Awardee (2021), Cassandra Godzik, PhD, APRN, PMHNP-BC, CNE, a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center & Dartmouth College T32 Research Fellow, was recently selected to participate in the United States (U.S.) Post-doctoral Fellows Fulbright Israel. Dr. Godzik’s research and clinical practice (as a psychiatric nurse practitioner) has focused on the home sleep environment of adults in the community (non-assisted living, nursing home, or other residential facilities). The Heilbrunn award supports her research focusing on methods to characterize the home sleep environments of older adults in rural communities in the Northeastern U.S. through survey development and virtual health technologies. In addition, she will continue to learn about sleep in the older adult population while working at the University of Haifa alongside sleep researcher and psychologist Dr. Tamar Shochat. Godzik’s planned research project in Israel is entitled “Investigation of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to older adults’ poor gait and motor functioning in the context of insomnia.” For more about her upcoming studies and travel, please visit: We wish Dr. Godzik all the best and are excited to see where her research and clinical practice takes her!

2020 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar, Dr. Hongjin Li, received NIH/National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health R34 award

Dr. Hongjin Li received a R34 award from the National Institutes of Health/National Center for Complementary & Integrative Health. Dr. Li is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a 2021 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar.

The title of her study is Feasibility of Implementing Acupuncture into a Federally Qualified Health Center to Alleviate Multiple Symptoms Among Breast Cancer Survivors Receiving Endocrine Therapy. Dr. Li’s study focuses on patients receiving care from a federally qualified health center and breast cancer survivors. Nearly 94% of breast cancer survivors experience one or more symptoms during or after endocrine therapy. Joint pain, hot flashes, sleep disturbance, fatigue, depression, and anxiety are the most common concurrent symptoms, some of which can persist for 5 to 10 years. These symptoms negatively affect adherence to treatment and compromise people’s functional status, quality of life and work functioning. Acupuncture is a single therapy with few side effects that address multiple symptoms. The effect of acupuncture on multiple symptoms among breast cancer survivors receiving endocrine therapy has not been investigated.

Further, implementation-focused acupuncture research focuses on privately insured settings and ignores social determinants of health. There is an urgent need to remove barriers and ensure equal access to this evidence-based treatment among breast cancer survivors with limited access to acupuncture. Federally qualified health centers (FQHC) provide care to people who experience significant barriers to health care access. This research study has two aims: (1) to test the feasibility and acceptability of implementing acupuncture within an FQHC oncology clinic as a way to manage multiple symptoms (pain, hot flashes, fatigue, sleep disturbance, depression, anxiety) among breast cancer survivors receiving endocrine therapy, and (2) to use a mixed methods approach to identify barriers and facilitators associated with the implementation of acupuncture within an FQHC. The long-term goal is to facilitate the widespread implementation, dissemination, and utilization of acupuncture for symptom management among medically underserved breast cancer survivors receiving endocrine therapy in FQHCs nationwide and ultimately to promote broader insurance coverage for acupuncture. The proposed research is significant because of its potential to ensure equal access to acupuncture, an evidence-based intervention. Results will provide the foundation for a larger multi-site hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial of integrating acupuncture into services provided at FQHCs for breast cancer survivors.

2021 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar, Dr. Sara Mithani, received the Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Career Award

Dr. Sara Mithani received the Biomedical Laboratory Research and Development Career Award sponsored by the South Texas Veterans Health Care System - Department of Research and Development. Dr. Mithani is an assistant professor at the University of Texas Houston and a 2021 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar.

The title of her study is Molecular Mechanisms Associated with Insomnia and Response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia. This award provides her with 75% protected research time.

Her proposal focuses on insomnia among service members and veterans. Sleep disturbance among service members is especially prevalent in individuals with a history of traumatic brain injury. Long-term untreated insomnia can lead to various adverse health concerns such as mood and anxiety disorders, respiratory and neurologic conditions, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Although cognitive behavioral therapy is the gold standard treatment for insomnia, not all individuals respond to the treatment. This research will use RNA sequencing to examine the mechanisms associated with cognitive behavioral therapy effectiveness in military service members with insomnia and a history of traumatic brain injuries. Improving sleep is the first critical step in optimizing and enhancing rehabilitation approaches in veterans, and the results could provide tractable solutions to strengthen existing rehabilitation or identify novel therapeutic strategies. Dr. Mithani’s study will also have equal representation for men and women, which can further inform gender-specific care in the military and Veteran health care system

News2016 Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar, Dr. Paule Joseph, Receives Brilliant New Investigator Award and Inaugural American Academy of Nursing/National Academy of Medicine FellowDr. Paule Joseph received