Maya N. Clark-Cutaia, PhD, ACNP-BC, RN

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Nursing

Both patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and the clinicians who care for them want to improve hemodialysis-related outcomes. Yet, little research has been done in this area, largely due to the complexities of the patient population. Maya N. Clark-Cutaia is studying a key issue in ESRD: whether the universally recommended dietary sodium restrictions, which are consensus-based, rather than evidence based in the dialysis population, make sense.

People with end-stage renal disease are very resilient. My research focuses on helping them achieve better outcomes.


  • PhD, University of Pittsburgh, 2012
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania, 2006
  • BSN, University of Pennsylvania, 2003


Dr. Clark-Cutaia began studying dietary modifications in ESRD for her doctoral dissertation. She found that women struggled more than men and younger patients struggled more than older patients to comply with sodium restrictions and other dietary modifications.

Now, under a K23 Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award from the National Institute of Nursing Research, Dr. Clark-Cutaia and her research team have conducted a pilot study to determine whether sodium restrictions are attainable, sustainable, safe, or beneficial to hemodialysis patient outcomes. Researchers randomized 42 dialysis patients, admitted  to the inpatient research unit at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, to one of three sodium restriction groups (2400 mg/d, 1500 mg/d, and a control group that ordered from the hospital’s menu). They measured the effect of each level on the dialysis symptom profile, and body fluid composition. Data analysis is underway.

Clinical Practice

A graduate of Penn Nursing’s Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program, Dr. Clark-Cutaia now teaches in the program’s three clinical courses, two of which are clinical practicums. She manages clinical groups and does site visits to ensure that students are receiving excellent training at the clinical sites.  

Dr. Clark-Cutaia is also a major (select) in the US Air Force Reserve. She served as a flight nurse, transporting injured soldiers in and out of theater or bases, and provided care at an outpatient clinic to ensure that soldiers were mission ready.

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

The NIH mentored research award supports investigators who have made a commitment to focus their research on patient-oriented research. Dr. Clark-Cutaia’s mentors and co-investigators are Penn Nursing faculty member Marilyn Sawyer Sommers, PhD, RN, FAA, and Raymond Townsend, MD, a faculty member at the Perelman School of Medicine and a nephrologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The initial research team also includes Penn Nursing’s Charlene W. Compher, PhD, RD, CNSC, LDN, FADA, and Jamison Fargo, PhD, MS.Epi, a statistician from the University of Utah.

Today, the team has grown to include Penn Nursing faculty with expertise in social work, nursing faculty from Rutgers University, four more nephrologists from the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and a nurse practitioner and clinical nurses from DaVita Kidney Care, a leading provider of dialysis services. Nursing and other health sciences students from local universities also participate on the research team, assisting with everything from clinical measurements to data entry and analysis. Dr. Clark-Cutaia plans to continue this line of research with a larger version of the study.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Secretary elect, Xi Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau
  • Member, Military Officers Association of America
  • Member, Eastern Nursing Research Society
  • Vice-president and faculty liaison, Penn Nursing Alumni Board

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

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