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RUSH College of Nursing’s JoEllen Wilbur Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN

JoEllen Wilbur, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, associate dean for research at RUSH University College of Nursing, received the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) at its annual meeting in April. This award recognizes a member who has significantly advanced the profession of nursing through extensive research.

Much of Wilbur’s work has focused on physical activity, namely walking, as an intervention to reduce menopausal symptoms and improve women’s cardiovascular and bone health. Since 1987, Wilbur has received continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct her studies as a principal investigator or coinvestigator. Among the advances from her two decades of research, she has developed culturally sensitive, community-based interventions shown to be effective in increasing physical activity, improving blood pressure and maintaining weight in Black women. Her work has been disseminated and replicated in communities in the U.S. and abroad, including South Korea, and modified for other populations.

“We are incredibly proud to celebrate Dr. Wilbur for all that she has done for nursing science,” says Christine Kennedy, PhD, RN, FAAN, John L. and Helen Kellogg Dean, College of Nursing. “She has truly dedicated a lifetime to advancing nursing research, whether through her own research or helping the next generation of nursing scientists carve their own path forward. Dr. Wilbur has touched innumerable lives through her illustrious career as a nurse, scientist and educator.”

Wilbur joined the RUSH College of Nursing as a professor and Endowed Independence Chair in Nursing in 2007, and she has been associate dean for research since 2008. Her long research career has focused on cardiovascular health, women’s health and physical activity behaviors. She is widely recognized as a mentor for young nursing scientists who supports students and early career faculty seeking to advance their research.

Her contributions to the field of nursing science have resulted in more than 180 peer-reviewed publications, dozens of awards and a considerable number of grants. Wilbur’s work has been funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Robert Wood Johnson Active Living Research, NIH and the National Institute for Nursing Research. She has served on study sections for the NIH, CDC and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Recently, she completed her service as a member of the NIH National Advisory Council for Nursing Research. Wilbur is also an active and engaged member of MNRS, where she has served on its research committee for six years, four years as the chair, and she is a past president of the MNRS Foundation.

“Without hesitation, Dr. Wilbur has been one of my most influential and supportive research mentors,” says Shannon Halloway, PhD, RN, FAHA, assistant professor at RUSH College of Nursing. “I cannot think of another nurse scientist more deserving than Dr. Wilbur for the MNRS Lifetime Achievement Award.”

“I am honored to be recognized by my longtime peers, collaborators and friends with this award,” Wilbur says. “Advancing science that has a real impact on patients has been my passion for more than three decades. I am proud to celebrate this work alongside the nurse scientists who are also working to transform health care.”

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