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Two Penn Nursing Professors Selected for Induction to the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame

Penn Nursing’s Jianghong Liu and Matthew D. McHugh will both be honored by Sigma Theta Tau International for their contributions to the nursing profession during the organization’s 34th International Nursing Research Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in July, 2023

Jianghong Liu, PhD, RN FAAN

Professor of Nursing, the Marjorie O. Rendell Endowed Professor in Healthy Transitions, and Faculty Director of Global Health Minor

“I am both thrilled and profoundly honored to receive recognition for my research, which I believe has had a positive impact on the lives of children and families. Being nominated by my peers to join a distinguished group of global nurse scientists is humbling and exciting,” said Liu. “This recognition holds special significance for me at this point in my career because it also honors my mentors, mentees, and collaborators who have all supported me so much throughout this journey. I am incredibly grateful to both them and my colleagues in Penn Nursing for this remarkable recognition.”

“Dr. Lui’s work and accomplishments speak volumes about the impact of her research in promoting healthy environments for children,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel. “As a member of our faculty at Penn Nursing, we are all very proud to see her inducted into the Hall of Fame and to see her recognized in this meaningful way.”

Liu is an internationally recognized scholar. Her interdisciplinary research program is concerned with understanding how early health risk and protective factors influence emotional and behavioral development in children and adolescents, and how brain mechanisms account for these links. Factors include prenatal factors, environmental exposures, nutrition, and sleep. She has received funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) since she started her research career 20 years ago. Her research has important policy implications. For example, her findings of lead exposure on children’s behavior were highlighted in the NIH’s “Research Matters” and adds more evidence that there is no safe lead level, a finding which has contributed to environmental regulation.

Liu is currently leading teams on several projects, both in the US and internationally. As Director of the NIH-funded China Jintan Child Health Project, she is following more than 1,000 children in Jintan, from pre-school into adolescence in order to understand the influence of environmental lead exposure, poor nutrition, and negative psychosocial influences on their behavioral outcomes. Liu also led the follow-up study of the Philadelphia’s Healthy Brain and Behavior Study, which in 2010, studied 450 community children in order to examine early biological, environmental, and social influences on adolescents’ behavior development and health outcomes. Her current research, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, investigates the effect of omega-3 fatty acid supplemental on child behavior problems.

Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRNP, FAAN

Professor of Nursing, the Independence Chair for Nursing Education, and Director of Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research

“It is an honor for our work at Penn Nursing and the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research to be recognized for its contribution to nursing science. Our team of investigators, students, and staff aim to conduct high-impact studies that translate into evidence-based policy and practice reforms that can reinvent care environments so that patients experience high quality, equitable care, and the best possible outcomes,” said McHugh. “This work derives in large part from the generous participation in large scale surveys by practicing nurses around the world. This vital information allows us to tell the story of the many challenges nurses face every day as they provide patient care, as well as the opportunities to invest in and create healthy work environments where nurses and patients can thrive.”

“We are all proud of Dr. McHugh’s extraordinary accomplishments,” said Villarruel. “His induction into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame is well deserved. His impactful research has led to important practice and policy changes locally, nationally, and internationally to support the ability of nurses to positively drive good patient outcomes.”

McHugh’s impactful program of research has demonstrated in large-scale studies that almost all policy mandated healthcare quality performance measures are associated with nursing care and nurse resources. His work with multiple populations and health systems shows that a broad range of patient outcomes are better in institutions where nurses care for fewer patients, where a higher proportion of nurses have bachelor’s degrees, and where the quality of the nurse work environment is supportive of professional nursing practice. His research shows that nursing care is a major driver in improving patient satisfaction, reducing hospital mortality and failure-to-rescue rates, readmissions, poor glycemic control and other adverse outcomes, and high cost-low value care including excessive ICU use.

Cumulative knowledge from his research makes a convincing case that treating nursing as a soft target for cost reductions actually increases rather than decreases costs due to expensive adverse outcomes. McHugh’s research on Magnet® recognized hospitals has increased adoption of Magnet best practices in U.S. and abroad. His research evaluating outcomes of health system redesign shows that replicating the structure of successful integrated systems often fails to translate into better outcomes if not accompanied by investments in nurses and nurse-led interventions. McHugh has demonstrated causal linkages between improvements in nurse staffing and improved patient outcomes by using natural experiments like legislation mandating safe nurse staffing levels, and this work has been a catalyst for more recent legislation around nurse staffing.

McHugh’s many honors include election as a Fellow of the National Academy of Medicine (2020), American Academy of Nursing (2012), a Fulbright Scholar (2001), and a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar (2011-14). He has received top awards and recognition for his publications such as the top 10 papers for Health Affairs (2013 & 2011) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation top 5 most influential research articles (2011). He has led six NIH-funded R01 grants over the last 10 years and served as co-investigator on four other R01s. He has been funded in excess of $70 million for his research and published over 100 papers in high-profile, peer reviewed journals such as Health Affairs, The Lancet, The Lancet Global Health, Medical Care, and JAMA Surgery.