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Dr. Margaret Heitkemper Receives FNINR Pathfinder award


For immediate release
Date:    September 24, 2010

SEATTLE – Margaret Heitkemper of the University of Washington School of Nursing has been selected to receive the 2010 Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research Pathfinder award. She has the honor of sharing this award with Dr. Suzanne Bakken from Columbia University. Dr. Heitkemper will receive this prestigious award at the FNINR NightinGala on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 in Washington D.C.

The Pathfinder Award is given by FNINR to acknowledge nurse researchers whose research has made a difference in the lives of people with health care needs, and has been sustained by multiple research grants from the National Institute of Nursing Research.

“Not only is this a huge national award, but that it represents a career of work that has changed the field and improved the health of people nationwide,” said Dean Marla Salmon of the University of Washington School of Nursing.

Margaret Heitkemper, RN, PhD, FAAN, is the chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, School of Nursing, Elizabeth Sterling Soule Endowed Chair in Nursing, and Adjunct Professor, Division of Gastroenterology, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Dr. Heitkemper is also Director of the NIH/NINR-funded Center for Women’s Health and Gender Research at the university.

Dr. Heitkemper became entranced with science after receiving a biology set as a gift when she was just eight years old.  Her training as a nurse followed experiences as  a teenager serving as a volunteer and working in a local hospital.  It was her care and concern for family members and her patients who suffered from gastrointestinal disease and distress which inspired her to embark on an outstanding career of research into these issues.  Dr. Heitkemper’s  experience as a practicing nurse also led her to translate her research into usable information and strategies that assist patients to actively manage their own health.

Dr. Heitkemper’s research related to women’s health, stress, and gastrointestinal function has been continuously funded by NIH since 1983.  Dr. Heitkemper is also one of the authors of a new book, "Master your IBS," from the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) offering patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a variety of strategies to help them learn how to manage their IBS symptoms and achieve greater freedom from IBS.

“The Pathfinder award was only possible because of the incredible group of faculty and staff that I have had the privilege to work with over the past 3 decades; in particular, Dr. Monica Jarrett who has taken our collective ideas and turned them into reality along with Dr Kevin Cain, Dr. Robert Burr, Ms Kendra Hayward, and our brightest doctoral students," Dr. Heitkemper responded when congratulated by the Dean of the school.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.