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Shawn Elmore RN, MN, PhD

Associate Professor Emerita

I am committed to scholarship and education as a means of promoting mental health and addressing the prevention and treatment issues inherent in mental illness. My approach to these topics integrates my clinical focus in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and my doctoral preparation in neuroscience. My primary focus is the relationship between our social/interpersonal environments and regulation of genetic expression as this influences brain plasticity and so mental health.
The emerging fields of Epigenetics and Social Determinants of Health are providing critical insights for understanding how our social/interpersonal environments shape health and illness. Epigenetics involves the study of environmentally driven changes in genetic expression that are NOT based on modification of DNA nucleotide sequence. This has implications for “brain plasticity” as this shapes cognition and emotion. Social Determinants of Health explores the ways that conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age shape health outcomes.
The explanatory power of modern genetics in the 20th century has focused our research on the “inherited” aspects of health and illness. Research aimed at preventing and treating diseases and disorders have been largely constrained to variations in DNA nucleotide sequence and the implications of “error” or damage to genes as a basis for ill health. This has been a very successful approach and has focused prevention and treatment on fixing or managing damaged physiology and, in some instances, identifying and eliminating “bad habits”. Growing data and knowledge in the area of health equity challenges our focus on genetically inherited and individual factors in health and illness. What is clear is that we have not sufficiently invested our resources for inquiry and research on the role of environment, in particular environments that are constructed as part of human endeavor, as these define health. This perspective is reflected in my scholarship, teaching and professional service.

What classes do you teach?

I teach core and clinical content in the Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum. My teaching also includes guest lectures across curricula as well as participation in student projects and research.

NURS 547 – Neuroscientific Basis of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing (PMHN)

NURS 564 – Biological Interventions in Advanced Practice PMHN

NSG 552 – Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity

PMHN Clinical Supervision

Core content pertaining to emotions, trauma and adversity


Psychosocial and Community Health

Research Areas

  • Health Equity
  • Lifespan Health
Picture of  Shawn Elmore

University of Washington School of Nursing
Box 357263
1959 NE Pacific St.
Seattle, WA 98195-8732