Nancy C Tkacs, PhD, RN
Associate Professor Emerita of Nursing

Contact Information
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Room 453 Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4217
tel: (215) 573-3045

Dr. Tkacs received her BSN and MSN degrees from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and her PhD in Physiology with a focus in Neuroscience from Loyola University of Chicago Graduate School at Stritch School of Medicine. She completed postdoctoral training in Neuroendocrinology at UCSF.

Dr. Tkacs has conducted basic research on central neural pathways and mechanisms mediating stress responses to illness. In September 2011, Dr. Tkacs was appointed the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Cultural Affairs in the School of Nursing. In that capacity, she is developing and implementing action plans to increase faculty diversity and excellence and to facilitate an inclusive and supportive climate for diversity.

In NURS 607 “Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology,” Dr. Tkacs draws on her knowledge of organ systems physiology and pathophysiology to provide a strong basic science foundation for advanced nursing practice. As a master’s-prepared nurse with a doctorate in physiology, she is able to build a bridge between physiology concepts and the pathophysiology of disease. Students learn how findings from the history and physical, and diagnostic test results, relate to the underlying disease process at the cell and organ level. Dr. Tkacs also teaches core neuroscience content to students in the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program and to doctoral students.

The common thread running through Dr. Tkacs’ research is the study of pathophysiological adaptation to a variety of disease-induced stressors. She studied brain mechanisms of a diabetes complication, hypoglycemia unawareness, in projects funded by more than $1.2 million from NIH and JDRF. She is currently working to identify strategies to improve diabetes care and outcomes in underserved populations. From her knowledge of nursing, neurobiology and pathophysiology, she brings basic science insights to the behavioral and management challenges affecting patients living with chronic disease. Her present focus is on elucidating the role of stress, sleep loss, and other social and behavioral alterations in disrupting diabetes self-management and worsening diabetes outcomes. In addition, Dr. Tkacs mentors doctoral students who are using biologically-based research approaches.

• Currently Funded Grants

• Center for Health Equity Research
• Center for Biobehavioral Research

Clinical Practice
Diabetes and its complications.


• Honors/Awards Details »

Publications (select year)
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Stress and sleep loss disrupt circadian rhythms of endocrine and neural regulation, and promote unhealthy patterns of diet and physical inactivity. These biobehavioral alterations compromise health and well-being, leading to obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Appreciation of both the biological mechanisms and the social determinants of health, are key to developing holistic approaches to improve well-being and to reduce the burden of chronic disease in our society.