Shawn Elmore, PhD

Shawn Elmore, PhD
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Psychosocial & Community Health
Box 357263
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-7263

My clinical nursing preparation is in Psychosocial Nursing and my doctoral preparation is in physiological psychology. This has served as a foundation to my career goals, which involve blending Psychosocial Nursing and neurobiology. My areas of teaching expertise include the biological basis of psychosocial disabilities and biological interventions for psychosocial disabilities. A substantial amount of the content I teach is geared toward providing graduate students in Psychosocial Nursing with up to date knowledge in neurobiology that can be applied both to understanding the biological basis of disorders such as depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse and to informed application of such interventions as pharmacotherapy and phototherapy. In addition, I try to shape my curricular offerings so that students can apply neurobiology beyond the boundaries of biological basis of mental disorders and biological interventions. My intent is to provide them as well with a knowledge base that will encourage them to explore the ways in which neurobiology and psychosocial environments work together to shape our world. 

Our current state of knowledge in neurobiology is increasingly a developing knowledge of neuroplasticity. The ways in which individuals transact with their environment shapes their neurobiology, throughout the life span. This perspective is an important foundation for psychosocial nursing practice. The perspective of neurobiology and psychosocial environment transacting in a dynamic and iterative fashion can be viewed through a variety of lenses. A few examples of areas of study that encourage integration of neurobiological and psychosocial perspectives include: 

  1. Human Circadian rhythms, Environments and Psychosocial aspects of light exposure 
  2. The implications of substance use, abuse and dependence on subsequent neurobiology and the implications of this for recovery, as well as the implications of psychosocial environments in the initiation and persistence of substance abuse/dependence 
  3. The effects of violence and trauma (both natural and human) on human neurobiology and the implications of this for subsequent mental health, including the effects of parenting by individuals with unrecognized or unresolved traumatic sequelae 
  4. The role of the epigenome in translating social environment into immediate and transgenerational modifications of genetic expression and psychosocial adaptation. 

Each of these areas of interest has implications for the development of health and social policy.

The focus of my research is mood disorders in women. Central to this interest is the interaction between psychosocial and physiological variables and the ways in which this interaction shapes the experience of depression for women. Current endeavors include participation in projects articulating curricular and community service aspects of perinatal mental health. This includes curricular enhancements within the existing Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program as well as coordination with and support of existing public health programs focused on maternal infant health. Dr. Yoriko Kozuki is the principle investigator in these endeavors.

Another activity is developing a synthesis of current knowledge with regard to epigenesis and its potential as a unifying perspective for nursing. Currently this scholarship involves a synthesis of current knowledge regarding epigenesist and the application of this for Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. An analysis of methods for epigenetic research is also a current goal.

Research Interests: 
Psychophysiology of affective disorders, circadian rhythms, companion animals and health
UW Graduate Faculty: