Paule Joseph, PhD, MS, FNP-BC, RN, CTN-B
Paule Joseph was selected in November 2018 for the inaugural class of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Distinguished Scholars Program. As an Assistant Clinical Investigator and Chief of the Sensory Science and Metabolism Unit (SenSMet) in the National Institute of Nursing Research Division of Intramural Research at the NIH, this honor speaks to Paule’s deep commitment to diversity in the biomedical research workforce.
Paule’s work in diversity and inclusion has roots in her own background. As an afro-Caribbean Latina born and raised in Venezuela of Haitian parents, she understands the importance of supporting opportunities for people of Latino heritage in nursing and nursing-related fields. While working toward her PhD at Penn Nursing in 2013, she co-founded the Latino Nurses Network:
“I looked around Fagin Hall and noticed so many predoctoral students and postdoctoral fellows who were Latino, and I just wanted to convene a group where we could share our successes and challenges. Dr. Olga Jarrín—then a postdoctoral fellow at Penn Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research—and I gathered a group for dinner, and the Latino Nurses Network was created.”
What started as a small group has grown into a strong network of support with nearly 1,000 members. Paule currently brings her passion for diversity in nursing to the Penn Nursing Alumni Board, where she serves as an active member.
Additionally, Paule is the Vice President of the Amazing Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged and underserved children around the world by bringing medical care to communities in need. She also recently founded a program focused on nursing education for nurses in Africa and she was recently appointed as Director of Mentorship and Career Development for The African Research Academies for Women, which fosters passion for STEM fields.
It should come as no surprise that as a student Paule received Penn Nursing’s Teresa I. Lynch Award for outstanding commitment to leadership and social activism. Paule is well-known for blazing trails, both as an activist and as a student—her interest in genomics during her doctoral program at Penn Nursing led her to a mentorship with faculty from the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Paule notes, “My amazing mentors took me under their wing to teach me genomics and chemosensory biology, leading me to become—I believe—the first nurse scientist with this depth of training.”
“I discovered in Nursing a niche that allows me to be myself without compromising my passion for science as well as my desire to help people in need,” Paule said. “As a nurse scientist, I am able to conduct research that improves the field of nursing and health outcomes.”
“At the NIH, I have my own laboratory centered around my area of inquiry, most of which is in the area of sensory science and metabolism. I focus on clinical and translational studies and conduct experiments both in the clinical setting, as well as in the wet lab where I study the molecular and neuronal mechanisms associated with variations in taste and smell and metabolic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other related comorbidities. My research focuses on improving the diagnosis, prevention, and management of chemosensory disorders and symptoms. I work on a series of omics studies from genomics, proteomics, microbiomics, and metabolomics. We know that genetics and environment play an important role in disease. I am also very interested in understanding how epigenetics effects may contribute to diseases such as obesity and diabetes. I want to find molecular targets that can be used as novel therapeutics.”
Paule’s career as a nurse scientist evolved out of her work as a clinical nurse. “When I worked on the floor, I was that nurse asking, ‘Why do we do what we do?’ and ‘What evidence do we have that it makes a difference?’ Those experiences inspired me to continue my education and led me to do research work. I love that as a nurse scientist I have that nursing lens where the patient is at the center—I am challenged every day to innovate.”
Random facts about Paule: When she is not in the lab, Paule enjoys traveling, studying history, reading and giving back to the community through philanthropic initiatives. She loves learning about other cultures and is always trying to learn new languages. Paule loves art and music. She played violin in an orchestra growing up and does photography for fun.