Scientific inquiry and research

Over the last century we have witnessed the most explosive growth in scientific discovery in all of human history. The UW School of Nursing has been at the forefront of the search for new, innovative knowledge that improves the human condition. We have consistently ranked among the top nursing schools in the country in research awards and PhD graduates.

Nurse scientist program

  • 1964, Dean Mary Tschudin and Dr. Katherine Hoffman obtained a grant to institute a nurse scientist program. At the time, nurses were required to complete their major in another discipline and then apply the research to nursing. Looking for a way to promote research and provide role models for students, Dean Tschudin and Dr. Hoffman asked for help from faculty member Dr. Marjorie Batey, Ph.D. ‘53, a trained social scientist with a background in organizational systems. Dr. Batey initiated the Research Facilitation Project, a systematic study of the mechanisms needed to develop a vigorous and sustainable research culture.
  • Between 1969 and 1976, research funding for the UW School of Nursing increased from a little more than $26,000 per year to more than $930,000.
  • Building on Dr. Batey’s legacy, today the UW School of Nursing continues to bring in millions of dollars every year, in extramural research funding allowing SoN investigators to conduct innovative and rigorous research that improves the health of all.

Research in the educational experience

In the decades that followed, research became an integral part of the educational process at the school. Technological advances and increasing numbers of nurse scientists on faculty made experiential learning an integral part of both the undergraduate and graduate educational experience.

  • In 1977, Dean Rheba de Tornyay facilitated the development of the UW’s first Doctor of Philosophy (Phd) in Nursing Science degree.
  • In 1982, Marcia Killien was awarded the first Ph.D. in nursing.

Today, 99 percent of the school’s tenured faculty hold Ph.D. degrees.

“Research is what enlivens the teaching,” Batey said. The Office for Nursing Research, which Batey founded in 1970, is still making that possible, helping to attract world-class faculty, research staff, and students to the UW SoN.

Evolution of UW’s nursing research

2000s to present

  • de Tornyay Center for Health Aging endowed to promote the science of healthy aging
  • Center for Innovation in Sleep Self-Management established to continue advancing sleep science
  • UW School of Nursing leaders recognize the significance of research in nursing science and practice
1960s—early 1970
  • Emphasis on introducing faculty to the importance of research
  • Individual faculty development
  • Faculty research development grant
  • Nurse Scientist training grant
  • Development of the research facilitation office (now the Office for Nursing Research) and a new Director of Nursing Research
  • Pursuit of research funding
  • Administrative departments were formed
Early- and Mid-1980s
  • Emphasis on research integration with education (evidence-based practice!)
  • Faculty collaboration
  • “Modeling Parties”
  • Technological advances
1990s to 2000s
  • Development of research centers to integrate research, education, and practice
  • Programs of study were developed
  • Solid faculty collaboration and mentorship
2000s to present
  • de Tornyay Center for Health Aging endowed to promote the science of healthy aging
  • Center for Innovation in Sleep Self-Management established to continue advancing sleep science

Sleep research at the UW School of Nursing

Dr. Betty Giblin established the UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory, the first of its kind in the United States, in the late 1970s.

Multidisciplinary clinicians from all over the University of Washington campus, collaborated with the UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory for high-impact research studies. Dr. Giblin’s research, which examined sleep patterns associated with illness and disease, continues to be one of the focus areas of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

In the 1980s, the UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory expanded its focus to sleep and symptoms in women throughout the lifespan. This research and subsequent studies framed a biobehavioral and ecological perspective that considered sleep, symptoms, and menopausal transition in the context of women’s lives. Over the past four decades, UW School of Nursing researchers have created a large database of sleep studies conducted in both lab and home settings.

Sleep Lab researchers

Some members of the UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory in 2016

More recently, sleep studies in the UW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory have examined:

  • nighttime hormone patterns
  • immune function
  • physical activity
  • pain
  • fatigue
  • chronic conditions
  • pediatric sleep
  • aging and sleep
  • neurocognitive decline

In 2009, the sleep lab became home base to the University of Washington School of Nursing Center for Research on Management of Sleep Disturbances, (CRMSD) funded by the National Institutes of Health. The CRMSD’s mission is to promote research that addresses sleep disturbances by developing interventions and tools that increase sleep quality. The Center has produced dozens of scholarly articles and funded more than 10 pilot studies between 2009-2021.

The presence of the UUW School of Nursing Sleep Research Laboratory has elevated sleep research at the School and throughout the larger UW and Seattle communities. The sleep lab and lab technicians’ expertise is available to investigators through our Laboratory Services offerings.