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Posted: 5/4/2006

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing students Chase Gray and Rachel Walker have been named recipients of the University Provost's Undergraduate Research Awards.  The awards, which are given annually by Johns Hopkins University to encourage baccalaureate students to engage in research activity, will allow Gray and Walker to work with faculty mentors, honing their skills in the many facets of scientific research.

Gray will use rats to study the complex relationship between anxiety and pain.  "Anxiety disorders and chronic pain are known to be related," says Gray.  "But is anxiety a result of pain?  Or does it render individuals more susceptible to pain?"  Working with Professor Gayle Page, RN, DNSc, FAAN, Gray will study the rats' anxiety behaviors, administer a chronic pain stimulus, then monitor the rats for intensity and duration of pain.  The team hopes that the results will provide clues to help explain the human experience of chronic pain.  Gray notes that "Being involved in nursing research is an exciting opportunity for me. I anticipate learning a great deal from Dr. Page and seeing how our research in the lab can be applied to patient care."

Walker's research, conducted with the guidance of Associate Professor Phyllis Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, will explore the relationship between intimate partner violence and HIV health.  With a team of moderators and translators, Walker will conduct focus groups and interviews with women of African heritage in Baltimore city to discover how their experiences with intimate partner violence affect their health decisions - especially those related to the prevention or treatment of HIV infection.  Walker is seeking to discover whether differences exist between women who have recently immigrated from Africa, and those who have grown up in the U.S.  "HIV does not discriminate between cultures or genders, but without culturally-specific and gender-specific strategies for its prevention, we cannot hope to make real progress," Walker said. "I'm thrilled and deeply honored to be working with Dr. Sharps on this.  Her humility and her passion for women's health are an inspiration to me, and I cannot wait to get started on our research!"

Both students will present their results at a Provost Undergraduate Research Award ceremony in Spring 2007.  Gray plans to submit a manuscript for publication, and Walker seeks to present her findings at a Chesapeake Chapter meeting of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care and the 2007 Annual Convention of the National Student Nurses Association.