Margaret M. Heitkemper, PhD, RN, FAAN

Margaret M. Heitkemper, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chair, BNHS; Director, Center for Research on Management of Sleep Disturbances; Elizabeth Sterling Soule Endowed Chair
Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems
Box 357266
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-7266


I am Director of the NIH funded Center for Research on Management of Sleep Disturbances at the University of Washington. In addition to sleep my area of interest is irritable bowel syndrome and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. This research has been funded by NIH. We examine symptoms, stress, and physiological measures including cortisol, ACTH, heart rate variability and catecholamines. More recently we have employed proteomic and metabolomic approaches to look for potential biomarkers for IBS. Our research team is interdisciplinary including colleagues in medicine, social work and pharmacy. We have also described genetic polymorphisms that may place individuals at risk. We have conducted three randomized clinical trials testing a comprehensive self management program that reduces symptom distress and enhances quality of life in men and women with IBS.


Currently, 50% of my effort is spent as department chairperson and an additional 25% is spent on grant-related activities. I have taught undergraduate courses in medical surgical nursing. Over the 32 years on faculty I have provided numerous guest lectures on gastrointestinal physiology/pathophysiology and pharmacology. This spring I will be co teaching with Dr. Mitchell the physiological measures course for PhD students. I serve on the National Advisory Committee for the new Future of Nursing Scholars program.

Practice, Service, Community Involvement

I have an adjunct appointment in the Division of Gastroenterology in the School of Medicine. I attend weekly rounds and provide mentorship to fellows who have an interest in IBS. I serve on the Council of the American Neurogastroenterology and Motility Society. I give lectures to outside professional groups (e.g., Wound Ostomy Continence Society) nationally and internationally.

Current Publications

  • Eugenio MA, Jun SE, Cain KC, Jarrett ME, Heitkemper MM. Comprehensive self-management improves sexual quality of life in IBS? Digestive Diseases & Sciences 57:1636-46, 2012.
  • Heitkemper M, Cain KC, Burr R, Poppe A, Deechakawan W, Jarrett ME. Anticipation of public speaking and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in women with irritable bowel syndrome Neurogastroenterology & Motility 24:626-631, 2012.
  • Jun SE, Kohen R, Cain KC, Jarrett ME, Heitkemper MM: TPH gene polymorphisms are associated with disease perception and quality of life in women with irritable bowel syndrome, Biological Research for Nursing, 2012 Nov 20.
  • Reding K, Jarrett M, Cain KC, Eugenio M, Heitkemper MM: Relationship between binge drinking and gastrointestinal symptoms among patients with irritable bowel syndrome. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 108(2):270-6, 2013.
  • Williams AE, Heitkemper M, Self MM, Czyzewski DI, Shulman RJ. Endogenous Inhibition of Somatic Pain is Impaired in Girls with Irritable Bowel Syndrome Compared with Healthy Girl (Journal of Pain, In press, 2013).

Current Research Projects

  • Abdominal Pain in with Women with IBS (Gut Function)
  • Improving Outcomes for Patients with IBS
  • Metabolomics in IBS - relationship to sleep
  • Pathways to Abdominal Pain: Adults and Children.
Research Interests: 
Gastrointestinal physiology, enteral nutrition, geriatrics
Student Mentor: 
UW Graduate Faculty: