Lea Ann Matura, PhD, RN, CRNP

Lea Ann Matura, PhD, RN, CRNP, FAAN

Associate Professor of Nursing

Vice Chair, Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences

Working as a nurse practitioner in a cardiac intensive care unit at the start of her career in the late 1990s, Lea Ann Matura noted that fatigue, shortness of breath, some chest pain and difficulty sleeping were major symptoms exhibited by patients with cardiopulmonary disorders.

Much of my work has been with people who have pulmonary arterial hypertension. This difficult-to-diagnose chronic disease, which primarily affects women, results in heart failure and increased mortality.  Dr. Matura began to wonder to what extent these and other symptoms interfered with the daily lives of her patients.
My primary research interest is testing symptom management strategies to improve the lives of people chronic illnesses.


  • PhD, Texas Woman’s University, 2005
  • MS, Texas Woman’s University, 1999
  • BS, Texas Woman’s University, 1995
  • AD, Blinn College, 1991
  • BS, Texas A&M University, 1989

Social Justice

Dr. Matura’s research includes people who are diagnosed with serious, life-limiting disorders. Empirically, her work shows how people are affected by their illness. Through her advocacy work, she speaks with lawmakers to encourage their support for legislation to improve the health and funding for nursing research.

Dr. Matura was also a member of our SON’s Social Justice Task Force (SJTF). This task included faculty and PhD students to ensure social justice principles were reflected throughout our PhD program. Dr. Matura is committed to the ideals of social justice tenets.


After nearly 10 years of critical care nursing, Dr. Matura returned to the classroom, earning her MS and PhD degrees, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute of Health (NIH). She joined the Penn Nursing faculty in 2011, where she began to study symptoms of pulmonary arterial hypertension and other chronic diseases.

In her current research, Dr. Matura focuses on understanding patients’ symptom experiences and how those symptoms affect outcomes such as functionality and health-related quality of life. In what she called one of the first studies to investigate symptom interference and health-related quality of life in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, Dr. Matura found that fatigue, shortness of breath on exertion, and difficulty sleeping are the symptoms that most interfere with patients’ lives. The NIH funded this study.

Improving Lives through Symptom Management

Under another NIH-funded study, Dr. Matura is investigating the mechanisms of symptom clusters that include shortness of breath, fatigue and sleep disturbance in chronic illness, especially cardiovascular disease. She is also investigating biomarkers of symptoms, and the role of inflammation in triggering certain symptoms.

Following a path first established while she was a bedside nurse, Dr. Matura’s ultimate goal is to design effective biobehavioral interventions to improve patients’ lives and help them manage their symptoms. These interventions, ranging from mindfulness-based stress reduction to cognitive behavioral therapy, have shown some success in patients.

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

In the classroom, Dr. Matura shares with nursing students her clinical expertise in critical care and her research with a diverse patient population with chronic disease. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on topics ranging from cardiovascular and critical care to research methods.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research (FNINR) Ambassador
  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • Abstract Scholarship Award, American Thoracic Society
  • Scholar, American Nurses Foundation

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

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