Nursing | Meet Our Nurse Scientists

Nurse scientists at Boston Children's Hospital assume a variety of roles within the organization as expert clinicians, mentors and leaders in the care of children and their families. Improving outcomes for patients, families and staff is central to our nurse scientists' research, which spans multiple specialties and areas of focus, including patient safety, care, quality and clinical innovation. Their scientific contributions have improved pediatric care and child health locally, nationally and across the globe. 

Each nurse scientist holds a faculty appointment at schools of nursing and medicine, including Boston College, Harvard Medical School, Northeastern University, University of Massachusetts at Boston and the University of Pennsylvania. As members of the Nurse Executive Committee for Research and Inquiry (NECRI), nurse scientists contribute to the oversight and advancement of nursing science within Boston Children's.


Co-Director for Nurse Training, Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program

E-mail Dr. Burke at

Dr. Pamela Burke received her BS in Nursing from Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing, MS in Parent Child Health Nursing from Boston University, PhD in Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College, and post-master’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner from Boston College. She completed two post-doctoral fellowships, one in adolescent health and another in substance abuse.

Dr. Burke’s nursing career at Boston Children’s Hospital has spanned more 25 years. She is an advanced practice nurse and a seasoned educator whose work exemplifies interdisciplinary collaboration. Prior to joining the faculty at Northeastern University in 2011, Dr. Burke held faculty appointments at Boston University and at Boston College, where she served as chair of the Maternal and Child Health Nursing Department. She also holds appointments at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. In July 2014 she assumed the role of interim dean for Northeastern University’s School of Nursing, which is part of Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

Dr. Burke is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. She is a member of the Expert Panel on Adolescence for the American Academy of Pediatrics’Bright Futures: Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children and Adolescents. She has served as co-director of Nurse Training for the LEAH (Leadership Education in Adolescent Health) Program at Boston Children’s Hospital and is co-investigator on the NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) funded R34 study entitled A Real-time, Contextual Intervention using Mobile Technology to Reduce Marijuana Use in Youth (PI is Lydia Shrier, MD). Dr. Burke is the Northeastern School of Nursing site director for a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) funded Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Professional Training Grant, awarded to Boston Children’s Hospital (PI-Sharon Levy & Elissa Weitzman) in collaboration with Simmons College School of Social Work.

Jean Anne Connor, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN

Director of Nursing Research, Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services

E-mail Dr. Connor at

Dr. Jean Anne Connor received her BS and MS in Nursing at Stony Brook University in New York, PhD from Columbia University in New York, and completed her post-doctoral training through the Harvard School of Public Health’s Pediatric Harvard Health Services Research Fellowship Program in Boston, Massachusetts. In 2005, Dr. Connor was the first nurse to graduate from this prestigious fellowship program. Dr. Connor joined the staff at Boston Children’s Hospital in 2003 as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. In 2005 she accepted a position as Nurse Scientist for Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services, and in 2009 was appointed Director of Research for Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services.

Dr. Connor’s program of research focuses on the paucity of available measures to understand the work of nursing as it relates to variation in patient outcomes. In 2009 she developed and implemented a national nursing benchmarking process across 15 pediatric cardiovascular programs for the American College of Cardiology. That successful effort identified an unmet need and in 2011, led to the establishment of a larger collaboration of 27 pediatric cardiovascular programs named the Consortium of Congenital Cardiac Care Measurement of Nursing Practice (C4-MNP). C4-MNP is a community of nurse leaders, researchers, bedside clinicians, and parents of children with congenital heart disease (CHD) committed to rigorous measurement of quality nursing care to optimize outcomes for children with cardiac disease. Once finalized, creation of the C4-MNP matrix will enable data to be linked across multiple pediatric hospitals and facilitate a detailed examination of risk-adjusted patient outcomes.

In parallel to the emergence of C4-MNP, Dr. Connor also led the development and implementation of a pediatric nurse acuity tool that is reflective of current nursing practice. The Complexity Assessment and Monitoring to Ensure Optimal Outcomes (CAMEO) acuity tool was designed to measure cognitive workload (critical thinking) and complexity (level of surveillance) of nursing care in the pediatric setting. Developed in 2009, the CAMEO has since been adapted and validated to measure nursing workload across all pediatric and neonatal settings.

Additionally, Dr. Connor serves as director of Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Nursing Science Fellowship program (founded in 2012). Within this program, she mentors nursing science fellows in the development, implementation, and dissemination of research and quality improvement projects. Dr. Connor has received multiple honors for her work including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Circle of Excellence award, the Boston Business Journal’s Champion in Healthcare recognition and designation as a Notable Nurse in the New England edition of (formerly Nursing Spectrum).

Martha A.Q. Curley, PhD, RN, FAAN

Nurse Scientist, Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services

E-mail Dr. Curley at

Dr. Martha A. Q. Curley is the Ellen and Robert Kapito Professor in Nursing Science at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Nursing. She also holds a joint appointment in Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine at the University’s Perelman School of Medicine and is a per diem nurse scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her research, funded by NHLB (National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute), NINR (National Institute of Nursing Research) and NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, has specifically focused on nurse-implemented interventions. Over several decades, her studies have illuminated relationship-based care when partnering with parents-of-critically ill children, supported parent presence during invasive procedures and resuscitation, and informed the practice of caring for critically ill pediatric patients with acute respiratory failure. Dr. Curley has also led the development and dissemination of core metrics in the field of pediatrics.

Dr. Curley received a diploma in nursing from Springfield Hospital School of Nursing in Massachusetts, a BS from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, an MSN in acute care pediatrics from Yale School of Nursing and a PhD from Boston College.

Michele DeGrazia, PhD, RN, NNP-BC, FAAN

Director of Nursing Research, Neonatal Intensive Care; Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

E-mail Dr. DeGrazia at

When Dr. Michele DeGrazia first began to examine the issue of car seat safety, healthcare providers and parents lacked clear information about newborn infants’car seat-related breathing problems and the proper use of car seats. Her clinical experience and dialogue with experts nationwide identified the vital need for education that delineated the differences between car seat-related breathing problems and car seat fit. She has stimulated a substantial knowledge shift regarding all aspects of infant car seat safety through her research, publications and presentations.

Recently, she expanded her program of research to include the growing concern of deformational plagiocephaly (misshapen heads). Dr. DeGrazia has led two clinical trials of a novel orthotic device designed to prevent or treat deformational plagiocephaly. Most notably, her research indicates that deformational plagiocephaly is a preventable condition for many hospitalized infants. In addition to her own program of research, Dr. DeGrazia guides nurses and physicians in the conduct of research as the Director of Nursing Research for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. DeGrazia received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, master’s degree and training as a neonatal nurse practitioner at Northeastern University and doctorate in nursing from the University of Massachusetts, Worcester. She is the recipient of internal and external research grants. Her academic appointments include Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and Adjunct Associate Professor at Northeastern University Graduate School of Nursing. Dr. DeGrazia has served as an invited member on the 2007 and 2011 National Safety Council Task Forces on Child Passenger Safety Discharge Policy Planning and has been instrumental in the development of national car seat safety standards for all infants. She has received several honors and awards including the Sigma Theta Tau, International Honor Society of Nursing Theta Kappa Chapter (1996); Excellence in Nursing Award, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (1996); Distinguished Alumni Award Northeastern University School of Nursing (2010); and Boston Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Excellence in Service and Training Award (2010). In 2014, Dr. DeGrazia was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Rachel DiFazio, PhD, RN, PPCNP-BC, FAAN

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Scientist

E-mail Dr. DiFazio at

Dr. Rachel DiFazio received a BSN from Fitchburg State University and an MSN and PhD from Boston College. In addition to her roles as a nurse practitioner and nurse scientist in the Orthopaedic Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, she holds appointments as an Instructor at the Harvard School of Medicine and Fitchburg State University.

Dr. Difazio fully appreciates that for the best clinical outcomes for patients and their families, a nexus of factors including clinical efficacy, cost-effectiveness of care, and more important, the needs of patients and families across the trajectory of health and illness must be considered. These serve as the foundation for her research, clinical practice, and teaching.

Specifically, her clinical expertise and research focus on improving delivery of the complex care required by children with severe, chronic disabilities, including focused attention on the impact of their condition and care needs on their families. Findings from her studies on health-related quality of life, caregiver burden, and non-medical out-of-pocket expenses are being translated into practice. Most recently, her work is laying the foundation for an integrated transition program in the Orthopaedic Center for young adults with cerebral palsy who are transitioning from pediatric to adult care services. These studies, funded through grants and awards from Boston Children’s Hospital and numerous professional organizations and private foundations, have resulted in cross-disciplinary publications designed to bridge gaps in knowledge and practice between nursing and medicine.

Dr. DiFazio’s expertise extends well beyond the borders of New England. For more than two decades, she advocated for the advancement of nursing education and scholarship in Russia. Outcomes of capacity-building activities within Russian nursing include helping to establish the first university level nursing program; coordinating numerous professional conferences and exchanges; and leading a series of joint scholarly projects between Russian and American nurses that advance evidence-based practice. Of specific note was the English language textbook for Russian nurses she co-edited, which was approved by the Russian Ministries of Education and Health as a primary text for university-based nursing programs in Russia and Russian-speaking countries.

Dr. DiFazio is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and uses this platform to help advance policies designed to improve family-centered care. She has received numerous awards for her research, advancements in clinical practice, and international advocacy. Dr. DiFazio is committed to helping prepare future generations of nurses and medical residents while championing evidence-based patient care.

Lisa Duffy, PhD, RN, CPNP-PC, CNRN, MSCN

Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Scientist

E-mail Dr. Duffy at

Dr. Lisa Duffy has been a nurse in the department of neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital for the past 16 years. In 2002 she graduated from William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College with a master’s degree in nursing and in 2013 Dr. Duffy completed the doctoral program at Boston College. During her doctoral program, Dr. Duffy was awarded an individual National Research Service Award to support her research training and doctoral dissertation titled “Testing the Efficacy of the Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (C.O.P.E.) Intervention During Hospital to Home Transition: Empowering Parents of Children with Epilepsy and Other Neurological Conditions.”

Currently, Dr. Duffy is a K12 Scholar with a Mentored Career Development Award for Child- and Family Centered Outcomes Research at Boston Children’s Hospital. Her ongoing program of research includes several projects aimed at better understanding and improving the decision- making process among families of children and adolescents with pediatric onset multiple sclerosis. As a K12 scholar, Dr. Duffy receives intensive mentorship and training in patient- centered outcomes research that engages patients, parents, and other stakeholders in all phases of planning, conduct, and dissemination of her research. She is conducting research that will directly inform decisions of clinicians and families as well as promote delivery system improvements and improved population health. Dr. Duffy’s research in this program will create a foundation for a body of work that will positively impact the way healthcare professionals’ partner with families to produce the best possible outcomes.

Patricia A. Hickey, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Vice President and Associate Chief Nurse, Cardiovascular and Critical Care Services

E-mail Dr. Hickey at

Dr. Patricia Hickey, assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, is known internationally for her work in leadership development, patient safety, and bridging nursing practice and health policy. She has disseminated cutting edge nursing knowledge in more than 100 publications and hundreds of presentations at national and international symposia.

As the nursing director of OPENPediatrics, she leads the Nursing World Shared Practice Forum, which highlights the science and practice of pediatric nurse scientists across the world. She is also a founding board member of a non-profit organization for pediatric healthcare in Guatemala. This foundation raises funds for children to receive health care who would otherwise live without health care because of economic and social circumstances. The greatest impact of her contributions to pediatric global health has been in pediatric leadership at the international level, in particular in China, through 25 years of senior volunteer work with Project HOPE. This work is sustained through transnational exchanges that Dr. Hickey has orchestrated for 210 medical students, junior faculty, physicians and nurses from Shanghai and Boston.

Dr. Hickey collaboratively leads the International Quality Improvement Collaborative for Reducing Pediatric Mortality in the Developing World, which includes leveraging internet technology to educate clinicians in 39 centers across resource-limited countries. To date, this collaborative has educated more than 1,000 physicians and nurses across the world. The outcomes of this project have recently been published demonstrating the significant reduction of mortality and sepsis in more than 25,000 patients across 21 pediatric cardiac surgery programs in developing countries. This is the first publication to show the significant association between web-based clinician learning and improved patient outcomes.

Internationally, Dr Hickey is a member of the Education Committee of the Global Humanitarian Forum for Congenital Heart Surgery in Geneva and the Executive Committee of the International Quality Improvement Collaborative for Reducing Mortality in the Developing World. Nationally, she is a member of the Quality Metric Steering Committee for the American College of Cardiology and the Transforming Care Delivery Expert Panel for the American Academy of Nursing. Her policy work has been influential at the state level with the development of an interdisciplinary model for legislative action in Massachusetts.

Dr. Hickey’s contributions have been recognized with several prestigious honors and awards including the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Circle of Excellence Award; Fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing; and The United States President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award in 2013.

Margaret McCabe, PhD, RN, PNP

Director of Nursing Research, Medicine Patient Services

E-mail Dr. McCabe at

Dr. Margaret McCabe graduated with a BSN in nursing from Niagara University, an MS in nursing from State University of New York at Buffalo, and a PhD from Rush University. To advance her psychometric expertise, she obtained a Certificate of Advanced Study in Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistical Analysis from the University of Chicago. In addition, Dr. McCabe completed post-doctoral fellowships in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health, Health Services Research at Tufts University, and Self- and Family-Management at Yale University. She is a lecturer at the Harvard School of Medicine, and has taught at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions; Boston College William F. Connell School of Nursing Boston College, and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Boston. Dr. McCabe has mentored numerous graduate nursing students in research practice from a variety of universities.

Currently working as the Director of Nursing Research for Medicine Patient Services, Dr. McCabe conducts her own program of research, mentors staff nurses and advanced practice nurses in research and evidence-based practice activities, and oversees numerous related educational activities. She represents nursing and clinical research as a member of the Boston Children’s Hospital Institutional Review Board, serves as co-chair of the Nursing Scientific Review Committee and is a member of the Nurse Executive Committee on Research and Inquiry.

Dr. McCabe’s program of research employs a bio-behavioral approach to better understand the symptom of fatigue in children. She has conducted several clinical research studies in settings ranging from the community to the inpatient environment leading to multiple publications in refereed journals and international and national presentations.

Dr. McCabe’s contributions extend far beyond the hospital walls. As a co-founder of Hacking Pediatrics and its only nurse, she brings her clinical/research/regulatory knowledge to this collaborative effort between MIT’s (Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology) widely acclaimed Hacking Medicine and Boston Children’s Hospital. Their mission is to promote meaningful, innovative healthcare redesign. As a recognized expert on the role of the clinical research nurse, Dr. McCabe was invited to represent nursing on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Review the Clinical Translational Science Award Program at the National Institutes of Health. She is also a co-founder and current president-elect of the International Association of Clinical Research Nurses, the only professional organization that specifically defines, validates and advances the unique practice of clinical research nursing around the globe. She has an international presence publishing, speaking and teaching on the role of the clinical research nurse. She received the Distinguished Clinical Research Nurse Award in 2012 from the International Association for Clinical Research Nurses.

Elaine Meyer, PhD, MSN, RN

Co-Founder and Director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice (IPEP)

E-mail Dr. Meyer at

Dr. Elaine Meyer’s academic work has focused on patient and family perspectives as they relate to critical care illness, pediatric end-of-life care situations, and providing innovative psychosocial services within healthcare organizations. She has championed creative and comprehensive psychological services for children and their families, emphasizing the priorities that families themselves have identified. At the Institute, Dr. Meyer offers educational workshops and consultation focused on challenging healthcare conversations, and has conducted research to demonstrate the efficacy of the Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills (PERCS). She presented a TEDx Longwood lecture entitled, On Being Present, Not Perfect, which drew on her professional and personal experiences to demonstrate the real gaps in healthcare communication and how to close them. She has published widely in the field and presents often at national and international conferences. She reviews books for the Journal of the American Medical Association, serves on the Children and Adolescent Task Force on End-of-Life Issues of the American Psychological Association, serves as Chair of the International Affiliations Committee at the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, and serves on the Editorial Board of Simulation in Healthcare.

Sandra R. Mott, PhD, RN-BC, CPN

Nurse Scientist and Research Consultant

E-mail Dr. Mott at

Dr. Sandra Mott currently serves as a Nurse Scientist and Research Consultant at Boston Children’s Hospital in the Cardiovascular and Critical Care Program and Co-director of the Nurse Science Fellowship as part of the Academy of Scholarship and Clinical Inquiry. Her expertise is in qualitative research with many years teaching and conducting studies using various qualitative methods. Currently she provides mentorship to nurses in the Nurse Science Fellowship for their qualitative studies and projects.

For more than 34 years, Dr. Mott was Associate Professor at the Boston College, William. F. Connell School of Nursing. She served as a Department Chair from 1990-1995 and 2003-2008. Her teaching, service, and scholarly pursuits include innovative integration of theory and concepts related to Nursing Health Assessment, Health Promotion and Growth and Development through the Life Span; creative revision of a Child Health Theory course to be more conceptual and family-focused; mentoring faculty and serving as role model for faculty in their role as clinical instructors. She was the lead editor for two editions of a major child health nursing textbook which focused on health promotion, growth and development and family-centered care, a concept integral to delivering excellent nursing care to children. Dr. Mott also taught doctoral qualitative research courses and directed multiple doctoral dissertations using qualitative methods.

From 2006 to 2008, she served as president of the Society of Pediatric Nursing (SPN) and led the Board of Directors in enacting policies and facilitating programs to support direct care pediatric nurses in providing excellent nurse-sensitive, family-centered care to children; initiated new programs in education and research; and increased political awareness by developing an advocacy toolkit related to health care policy. She promoted a unified voice for pediatric nursing by forging stronger relationships with other pediatric nursing organizations and reached out to interdisciplinary groups involved with child health care. Currently, she is active in the Massachusetts chapter of SPN and national Education and Past-Presidents Committees. She is certified by both ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) and PNCB (Pediatric Nursing Certification Board) in the area of pediatric nursing.

Mary Poyner Reed, PhD, CNRN, ANP, NEA-BC

Vice President and Associate Chief Nurse, Medicine Patient Services, Boston Children’s Hospital; Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

E-mail Dr. Reed at

Dr. Mary Reed earned a BSN from the University of Maine, and an MS and PhD from William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College. She is certified as an acute care nurse practitioner by the American Nurses Credential Center and is a certified neuroscience nurse by the American Board of Neuroscience Nursing. Her dissertation, completed in 2013, was titled Parental Caregivers’ Description of Children with Intractable Epilepsy.

The focus of Dr. Reed’s advanced practice, research and publications is related to the care of adult and pediatric neuroscience patients and supporting the caregiver. She has been an advanced practice nurse in clinical neuroscience at Boston University Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and Boston Children’s Hospital. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, MA & RI Organization of Nurse Leaders and the American Association of Neuroscience Nursing. She is a board member of the Boston Chapter, American Board of Neuroscience Nursing.

Jean C. Solodiuk, PhD, RN

Manager, Pain Treatment Service

E-mail Dr. Solodiuk at

Dr. Jean Solodiuk received her BSN from Saint Anselm College, her MSN at the University of Rochester and a PhD from William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College. Dr. Solodiuk is a research associate in Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School. In her role as manager of the Pain Treatment Service and chair of the Interdisciplinary Pain Committee, she has developed numerous policies and procedures regarding safety and efficacy of pain management practices that directly affect patient care throughout the institution. For more than 15 years, the Interdisciplinary Pain Committee, with Dr. Solodiuk’s leadership, has implemented evidence-based pain management practices. Dr. Solodiuk is a co-founder of the Pediatric Pain Conference that educates clinicians on new advances in pain management and advances science by connecting clinicians and scientists. She remains a faculty member of this conference, which is associated with Harvard Medical School, and draws participants from numerous local, regional and international institutions.

Dr. Solodiuk’s research focuses on children with global impairments of the central nervous system. This includes validation of the Individualized Numeric Rating Scale, a pain assessment tool for nonverbal children with intellectual disabilities; an analysis of parent-described pain behaviors; and the use of gabapentin in nonverbal children with intellectual disabilities. Another quality improvement study is the first comprehensive analysis of pain scores of hospitalized inpatients. From this research, populations with persistently high pain scores were identified, along with a description of their care needs.

Judith A. Vessey, PhD, MBA, RN, DPNP, FAAN

Nurse Scientist

E-mail Dr. Vessey at

Dr. Judith Vessey received a BSN from Goshen College, a Developmental Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Certificate from the University of Miami, and an MSN and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She was selected to the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Nurse Scholars program at the University of California, San Francisco for her post-doctoral work. She later received her MBA in Medical Services Management from Johns Hopkins University. The decision to seek this degree came from her realization that understanding the economics and business practices of health care was essential to being able to contribute to related policy determinations for children with chronic conditions.

Throughout her career Dr. Vessey has focused on caring for children with, or at risk, for chronic conditions, and has been able to influence children’s and youths’ health outcomes through teaching, research and practice. Dr. Vessey holds the Lelia Holden Carroll Chair at the William F. Connell School of Nursing, Boston College and is a nurse scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital. She teaches undergraduate and graduate students, supervises the dissertation work of numerous doctoral students, and has also been a visiting scholar at universities in both the United States and abroad.

Dr. Vessey and her colleagues have conducted numerous descriptive, methodological, and intervention studies designed to improve the well being of children. Many of these studies have focused on teasing and bullying. Her interest in this area of inquiry began when she witnessed the difficulties that children with chronic conditions faced at school. Dr. Vessey’s research on bullying in the schoolyard, led to a related area of study, bullying and horizontal violence within the nursing workforce and its impact on quality patient care. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, professional organizations, and private foundations. As a content expert, she has consulted with the Department of Health and Human Services Stop Bullying Now campaign and the National Association of School Nurses. In addition, she serves as a grant reviewer for Health Resources and Services Administration and the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Vessey has presented widely and published more than 100 articles including the text, Primary Care of the Child with a Chronic Condition, which she co-edited with Patricia Jackson Allen. She has received numerous awards for her work including the Excellence in Nursing Research Award from the Society of Pediatric Nurses. Dr. Vessey is actively involved in the American Academy of Nurses and served as the co-chair of the Child and Family Expert Panel and a member of the task force that has promulgated the Healthcare Quality and Outcomes Guidelines, adopted by every major pediatric nursing organization.