Amy Jo Lisanti, PhD, RN, CCNS

Amy Jo Lisanti, PhD, RN, CCNS

Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Lisanti’s research supports the overall health and wellbeing of infants born with congenital heart disease (CHD) and their families. Her research highlights the importance of enhancing the role of parents in the intensive care unit through family-centered developmentally supportive interventions to improve parent mental health, reduce infant stress, and optimize infant growth and development.

My goal is to lead rigorous research that will generate strong evidence on how pediatric cardiovascular nurses can enhance the parental role in the intensive care unit through developmental care interventions that improve both short and long-term mental health of parents of infants with congenital heart disease. I also hope that my research demonstrates that these care practices support the growth and development of infants with CHD.


  • Ph.D., Widener University, 2014
  • MSN, Widener University, 2009
  • BSN, University of Pittsburgh, 2001


Dr. Lisanti’s program of research is dedicated to advancing the science of family-centered developmental care in the field of pediatric cardiovascular critical care. As a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (PCICU), she saw first-hand the stress that infants born with complex congenital heart disease (CHD) experience, along with their parents and families, and the need for nursing innovations to support patient and family outcomes. She developed the PCICU Parent Stress Model for her dissertation and further validated and refined the model using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Her subsequent studies provided empirical evidence for the PCICU Parental Stress Model by demonstrating the relationship between the perceived stressor of parental role alteration with both anxiety and depressive symptoms in parents of infants with complex CHD. Most recently, she tested a skin-to-skin care intervention in in the PCICU, including salivary cortisol and oxytocin to objectively measure stress and attachment, respectively, and demonstrating benefits for both mothers and infants.

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

Dr. Lisanti collaborates with interdisciplinary colleagues at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania to conduct research related to improving outcomes for infants with congenital heart disease and their families. Dr. Lisanti is excited to mentor students interested in research.

Selected Career Highlights

  • 2018 – Present Member of the American Heart Association CVSN Pediatric Cardiovascular Nursing Committee
  • 2016-2019: NRSA postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, funded through the NINR T32 “Research on vulnerable women, children, and families.”
  • 2013 Mary B. Walker Honorary Scholarship Award, Widener University, Chester, PA
  • 2009 Dean’s Award, Master of Science in Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA