Dedicated to fostering the scientific and professional growth of nurses in human genetics and genomics worldwide.
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ISONG Members in the News

Susan W. Wesmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and an accomplished nurse scientist in the field of genetic and genomic markers of symptoms in individuals with breast cancer.

Even in high school, Sue knew nursing was her destiny (after her father convinced her that majoring in history would limit her career possibilities, of course!). She graduated from Pitt with her BSN in 1977 and worked as a staff nurse and then a head nurse at a hospital in Dubois, Pennsylvania. Click here for the full story.


Cheedy Jaja, PhD, has joined the College of Nursing as an associate professor and assistant dean for Global Engagement. Dr. Jaja has more than two decades of experience teaching across nursing, social sciences, arts and humanities. His teaching approach utilizes traditional and innovative pedagogical techniques that stimulate critical thinking, creativity, and reflection. He encourages his students to tap into their collective knowledge base, expose biases and strive for convergence on views, values, ideals, issues, and perspectives relevant to the course.  Click here for the full story.

Congratulations to Hudson Santos, PhD, RN, who has been elected to serve as the Councilor of Programming for the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science (CANS).


Professor Sivia Barnoy is based at the Nursing Department in Tel-Aviv University in Israel. Sivia fell in love with the nursing profession after spending two years in the Israeli National Service working in hospitals. She enrolled in nursing studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and began her nursing career as a pediatric intensive care nurse. After completing a Master’s degree in genetics, Sivia was invited to continue her studies at the doctorate level; she considered this option for two years before she agreed to it, as leaving the patient's bedside was a difficult decision for her. After completing her Doctoral degree she applied to the Department of Nursing at Tel Aviv University to teach genetics. In 2004 she was appointed as a lecturer in the senior faculty of the department and, as a result of her long-term commitment and dedication to nursing education and research, Sivia is now a full professor at the nursing department of Tel-Aviv University. Click here for the full story.


Congratulations to Dr. Laurie Connors (PI), who has recently been awarded a R25 NIH Grant, Translation and Integration of Genomics is Essential to Doctoral Nursing (TIGER). The purpose of this 5-year grant is to increase the capacity and capability of doctoral nurses in the translation and integration of genomics. The TIGER training opportunity will: 1) commence with a half-day genomics course on January 18, 2022 (prior to the

AACN Doctoral Education Conference) and 2) continue via monthly online webinars and web conferencing sessions throughout the remainder of the year (February-December). Any questions should be emailed to

TIGER is developed by and for DNP and PhD nurses with the following faculty to

provide their expert contributions:

Laurie Connors, DNP

Patricia Friend, PhD

Patricia Kelly, DNP

Linda Ward, PhD

This education award is supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R25HG011018.


Congratulations to Dr. Becky Kronk (PI) on the awarding of a R25 NIH Grant, Genomic Competencies for Nurses from Theory to Application: An Online Long Course in the amount of $809,592. The overarching goals of this 5-year grant, Genomic Competencies for Nurses from Theory to Application: An Online Long Course, are to create a training opportunity based on the Essential Genetic and Genomic Competencies for Nurses with Graduate Degrees tailored to doctoral-level nursing faculty and students and to improve nurses’ genetic literacy and genomic science literacy to benefit patient/population health care outcomes, particularly those from underrepresented minorities (URM), through research, evidence-based practice, education, and advocacy. Watch for more details regarding the course launch in January 2022.


 Katherine Maki, MS, APRN-BC, and Caitlin Dreisbach, PhD, RN, published a plain language article in Genomics: Insights, as a part of an initiative of the ISONG research committee. Read the article here. Anyone - high school through post doc - is eligible to submit an article. 

 Erin Dickman, MS, RN, OCN, and Kathleen Calzone, PhD, RN, AGN-BC, FAAN, published an article, "Using a Genomics Taxonomy,: Facilitating Patient Care Safety and Quality in the Era of Precision Medicine," in the April 2021 Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing. For a complete list of authors and to read the article, click here.

Congratulations to McKenzie Wallace, PhD, RN, who received the Heilbrunn Nurse Scholar Award. The grant will support her work investigating inflammatory makers in a cohort of overweight and obese women with and without preeclampsia. Results from this study will inform how inflammatory markers differ between overweight/obese women with and without PE, which may help to delineate how obesity contributes to PE risk. 


Sheila A. Alexander, PhD, RN, FCCM

Sheila is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh and an accomplished nurse scientist in the field of genetic and genomic markers of acute brain injury and illness. Sheila’s career was always destined for nursing. Early on, she obtained substantial bedside experience on the floor, in the ICU, and even in inpatient geriatric behavioral health. This work eventually led her to pursue her MSN/NP credentials at which point she completed a research practicum that proved to be a turning point in her career, as she realized with certainty she needed to change course to the PhD track. She worked as a research project director while completing her PhD and then entered into a faculty position. Click here for the full story. 


Michael Groves, RN, PhD

Mike is an Associate Professor of Nursing at Shepherd University, a small liberal arts university in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Mike has undergraduate and doctoral degrees in nursing, a master’s degree in healthcare administration, and a graduate certificate in bioethics and health policy. Through the course of his career, Mike has had three main areas of focus. Mike first started in clinical practice in emergency departments and a major trauma center. He then worked for 20 years in a variety of consulting and leadership roles including manager, director, and chief nursing officer, as well as a management consultant. He has spent the last nine years in his current role in academia. As an educator, Mike teaches genetics courses at the baccalaureate and doctoral levels. In both his undergraduate and Family Nurse Practitioner courses, Mike emphasizes the importance of nurses understanding how to apply genetic and genomic knowledge in clinical settings. His curricula includes substantial integration of bioethical content. Of genomic education for nursing students, Mike says: “Genomic education is vital in nursing programs. Genetics and genomics will be how we assess and treat disease and how we understand who we are and how we are all related. If we fail to provide our nursing students with a basic understanding of this science and technology, we will have failed to prepare them for 21st century nursing.” Click here for the full story. 


Kelley Baumgartel, PhD, RN

Congratulations to Kelley Baumgartel, PhD, RN, for her "40 Under 40" recognition in Pittsburgh Magazine. View the article and brief video here where she discusses being a nurse scientist and the Human Milk Science Institute and Biobank.


Maura McCall, PhD(c), MSN, RN

Maura K. McCall, University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing doctoral candidate, received a National Cancer Institute (NCI) Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Fellow Transition Award (F99/K00) for her proposal, “A Multi-Omics Approach to Examine Symptoms and Medication Adherence in Women with Breast Cancer.” This award supports outstanding doctoral students for two years of predoctoral and up to 4 years of postdoctoral training. Twenty-four graduate students were awarded this fellowship in 2020.

Maura’s program of research explores patterns of symptoms and aromatase inhibitor medication adherence in women with breast cancer and will contribute a greater understanding of the temporal variability and interplay between symptoms and treatment adherence. Her project aims to investigate potential biological mechanisms by describing molecular characteristics associated with symptoms and adherence.

With support from her mentors and co-sponsors Dr. Catherine Bender and Dr. Yvette Conley, Maura is the second student from Pitt Nursing to receive this fellowship.


Cheryl Hersperger, PhD, RN, PHNA-BC

Congratulations to ISONG member Cheryl Hersperger, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Worcester State University, who was published in the July 2020 Oncology Nursing Forum Journal.  Read the article about individuals with the CDH1 marker here.

Cheedy Jaja, PhD, MPH, MN, MSN, PMHNP-BC, RN

Cheedy Jaja, Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina, is the subject of two recent articles related to the coronavirus pandemic.  Dr. Jaja discusses the support needed for nurses during a pandemic due to the toll such an event can take on them. He gained first-hand experience through his role as a nurse on the front lines of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in 2014. Read the published stories here and here.

Katherine Maki, MS, APN-BC

Congratulations to Katherine Maki for her recent ISONG Research Grant Award and for being selected for the 2017 National Institute of Nursing Research's Summer Genetic Institute, from which she received a scholarship to attend the 2018 Summer Institutes in Statistical Genetics. Click here for the full story.

ISONG/ASHG Collaboration at the American Psychiatric Nurses Association Annual Conference.  ISONG members Beth Pestka, Virginia Conley, Nicole Osier, and an ASHG representative prepared the presentation, which was presented by Beth Peska and Virginia ConleyClick here for the full story.

Karlene Coleman, RN, MN, CGC

Karlene created educational videos that highlight the stories of two patients.  Click below to watch their incredible journeys unfold. Click here for the full story. 

Cystic Fibrosis: Sam's Story                           Hemophilia & the Fencer: Luke's Story

Nicole Osier, PhD, RN

"How to Move into an Omics Lab" - watch the process unfold as Dr. Osier and her team of busy bees set-up her omics lab at UT Austin!    
Sandra Daack-Hirsch, PhD, RN
Becky Kronk, PhD, MSN, CRNP Jennifer Sanner Beauchamp, PhD, RN

Congratulations to Sandra Daack-Hirsch, Becky Kronk and Jennifer Sanner Beauchamp on their recent award of an honorary fellowship by the American Academy of Nursing. Each year, by awarding honorary fellowship, the Academy recognizes individuals in honor of their extraordinary contributions to nursing and health.  Click here for the full story.

Laurie Connors, DNP, APNG, FNP-BC, AGN-BC, AOCNP

Congratulations to ISONG Member Dr. Laurie Connors from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing who along with a colleague prepared a guest editorial on "Genetics and Genomics Content in Nursing Education: A National Imperative." Though genetic competencies have been embedded in AACN's Essentials documents, many nursing programs lack foundational content in the curricula. The authors call for academic nursing leaders to strengthen student preparation in the genetic and molecular basis of disease to better meet population health needs.

Eugenia Millender, PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, CDE

As one of the few indigenous Afro-Caribbean Latina doctorally prepared nurse scientist fluent in Spanish, Dr. Eugenia Millender’s career in health has been dedicated to increasing access to quality care, decreasing health and mental disparities, and providing a culturally humble environment for patients, staff, faculty, and students. Click here for the full story.

Bobbi Laing, PhD, RN

Dr. Laing is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland in New Zealand (NZ) and is an emerging expert in nutrigenomics and health promotion. Dr. Laing recently completed her PhD thesis entitled ‘Key genotypes and the response to nutrient supplementation in Chron’s disease' and is the project manager for two collaborative research projects at the University of Auckland.  Click here for the full story.

Jessica Anderson, APRN, WHNP, AGN-BC

My story begins in 1986. My mother was 31 years old. She was married with two small girls, 8 and 4 years old. She found a lump in her breast….but 31 year olds don’t get cancer. It must be benign. She was told to watch it for a few months to see if it “goes away.” Two months later she returned to her doctor and pressed for further evaluation. A mammogram lead her to biopsy where she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31. She was treated with a radical left breast mastectomy and removal of 19 lymph nodes. All nodes were negative. She came home to her young family with a scar and staples where her left breast had been. Click here for the full story.

Masakazu Nishigaki, RN, CGC, PhD

Dr. Nishigaki is an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at Kyoto University in Japan and is a registered nurse and certified genetic counselor. Dr. Nishigaki is interested in behavioral change and genetic risk information of common disease, as well as genomic health literacy. 

Dr. Nishigaki has been a primary investigator and co-investigator on several grants examining genetic information in clinical practice. He is also a member of the Japanese Society for Nurses in Genetics and is very active on their education committee. Dr. Nishigaki is working to build a model of curriculum for genetic nursing education for undergraduates in Japan. Thank you, Dr. Nishigaki for your hard work and commitment to ISONG. 

Andrew Dwyer, PhD, FNP-BC

Dr. Dwyer supervises masters and doctoral students and teaches courses in advanced clinical assessment, family systems, and is a guest lecturer in genetic disorders of sexual development.  With over 16 years of clinical and research experience, Dr. Dwyer's work focuses on patients with chronic endocrine conditions and genetic disorders. His interests include genetic literacy, transitional care for adolescents with chronic health problems, and using technology to facilitate and extend the reach of nursing care. 

Dr Dwyer has recently joined the faculty of the Connell School of Nursing at Boston College and is repatriating to the United States this summer. Thank you Dr. Dwyer for your hard work and commitment to ISONG.  

Carolyn Allen, DNP, CRNP-F, MS-Genetics 

I graduated from GWU in 2010 from the Family Nurse Practitioner program. This is my third career change, or should I say transition. I was a genetic counselor for a few years before going to nursing school. After completing my BSN, I worked in hospital settings for medical/surgical, psychiatrics, and pulmonary for a few years. As soon as an opportunity availed itself, I finally came back to maternal child health. The bulk of my nursing career (15 years) was in-patient obstetrics. My long term vision had been to combine the advanced practice nursing career with the genetics component and be a nurse educator in a university hospital setting. Click here for the full story.

Sylvia S. Estrada, DNP, MSN, MSHCM, WHNP-BC, CBCN 

Ms. Estrada is the Clinical Program Coordinator at the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She is nationally certified as a: Women's Health Care Nurse Practitioner; Certified Breast Care Nurse; and Certified Clinical Research Professional. Her current clinical care and research interests involve the screening of women who are at high risk for breast cancer and providing genetic counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.   Click here for the full story.

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