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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI nursing professor lauded for research leadership

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Warwick resident is national expert on development of premature babies

KINGSTON, R.I -- January 5, 2005 -- Margaret M. McGrath, professor of nursing at the University of Rhode Island, has been awarded the Lifetime Research Achievement Award by the Rhode Island chapter of the international nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau.

McGrath, who has been a member of the nursing faculty at URI since 1985, has excelled in nursing practice and instruction, but her passion has been research.

Her work has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Nursing, the Yale University School of Nursing and her colleagues in Rhode Island, where she is also a research scientist for the Department of Pediatrics at the Brown School of Medicine.

“We in the College of Nursing are very proud of Dr. McGrath and her co-investigator, Dr. Mary Sullivan, who have uncovered new insights about the vulnerability and resilience of sickly preterm children and their families over time,” said Nursing Professor Jean Miller who holds the Weyker Endowed Chair in Thanatology, who played a key role in McGrath’s nomination.

Her research has focused on understanding the developmental issues of children born at medical risk and the responses of their families. McGrath and her research team have demonstrated for the first time the fluctuating nature of these children’s developmental outcomes. Since 1989, the NIH has supported McGrath’s research with more than $3 million in grants, one of the institute’s longest continuously funded nurse-run projects.

The Warwick resident’s teaching career began in the Rhode Island College Department of Nursing in 1979. In 1985, she joined URI.

McGrath’s teaching skills were evident at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels at URI where she played a major role in obtaining federal funding for the University’s nurse-practitioner and nurse-midwifery programs. At the Interdisciplinary Infant Development Unit sponsored by the Brown Program in Medicine at Women and Infants Hospital, she taught students how to interact with families while doing a neurobehavioral exam on a 3-day-old infant. Her continuing goal is to integrate theory, research and clinical knowledge between the classroom and clinical sites.

In 1998, McGrath received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the Yale University School of Nursing where she was described as the “ultimate Yale nurse,” who skillfully integrated practice, research and teaching. In 2000, URI presented McGrath the “Outstanding Researcher Award” and in 2001 she was honored with a fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing. The key criteria for that award were extraordinary contributions and commitment to nursing that exceeds the responsibilities of one’s employment.