UMSN Associate Dean earns prestigious research award

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Holden Pathpaver

The University of Michigan's Janean Holden, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, is the recipient of the 2017 Welch/Woerner Path Paver Award from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing (FNINR). The esteemed award honors a mid-to-late career nurse scientist who has achieved breakthroughs in research and positively influenced the next generation of nurse researchers.

Holden is the Associate Dean for Research and Rackham Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN). She is also the Barbara A. Therrien Collegiate Professor of Nursing.

Holden has developed an impressive body of research focused on brain mechanisms that modify pain in the spinal cord, with emphasis on the hypothalamus and norepinephrine system, and chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. Holden has achieved significant findings in understanding the structure and behaviors of the system, related pain, and drugs that promote pain relief. Her efforts have also led to the translation of this work to patients and improvements of their care and outcomes. 

“Dr. Holden’s research is well recognized as pioneering and pivotal to expanding knowledge about the neurological experience and perception of pain,” said UMSN Dean Patricia Hurn, Ph.D., RN. “She has led research endeavors of many different kinds and constructed administrative and review processes to promote the highest quality of research. She shows the way every day to colleagues and students as to how one can use bench science to answer questions that matter to nurses as clinicians and practitioners.”

The mentorship of students and early career scientists was another factor in the selection of Holden for this award. In addition to the dozens of undergraduate and graduate nursing students she has mentored, she includes students from other disciplines on her research team which helps them develop an understanding of the value and contributions of nursing science. Many of her mentees, nursing and otherwise, have gone on to develop their own bodies of research, including some who are building on Holden’s discoveries.

 “It is an honor to be recognized by one’s peers and a privilege to represent the great scientists and teachers who helped me hone my craft, including Barbara Therrien, Herb Proudfit, and Kate Potempa,” said Dr. Holden.  “And I must recognize the NINR that has supported my research and the work of so many others. I don’t know about a village, but I do know it takes a lot of brains working together to improve patient care.”

Holden received the award in October at FNINR’s annual NightinGala in Washington, D.C. The award was renamed this year to honor Colleen Conway Welch and Louise Woerner,  two individuals who were key figures in establishing FNINR nearly 25 years ago.