Rosemary Polomano

Rosemary Carol Polomano, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor of Pain Practice, School of Nursing

Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine

Nationally and internationally known for advancing the science of understanding and treating pain, Rosemary C Polomano’s research has always been informed and inspired by her clinical practice and the patients she cared for as an advanced practice registered nurse.  In the mid-1990s, while a pain clinical nurse specialist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Polomano promised a patient with cancer experiencing painful chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy that she would do all she could to research the woman’s complaints of burning hands and feet, a common condition associated with chemotherapy

Dr. Polomano’s subsequent research, funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, investigated the mechanisms of peripheral neuropathy and the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel (Taxol). Keeping her bedside promise, Dr. Polomano designed a rat model investigating Taxol-induced peripheral neuropathy that was comparable to her patients’ experiences. This model is now used by investigators throughout the world to test analgesics and provide insights into understanding chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.  

Dr. Polomano’s research into pain science soon expanded to include ways to measure pain and help patients communicate about their pain.  She developed and tested the American Pain Society- Patient Outcomes Questionnaire-Revised (APS-POQ) that is now translated into several languages and used worldwide to conduct quality improvement for pain management in hospitalized patients. 

In 2014, in recognition of her career-long work to advance pain science, Dr. Polomano received Penn Nursing’s Norma M. Lang Award for Scholarly Practice and Policy. She has published over 85 peer-reviewed journal articles and more than 30 chapters in nursing and medical textbooks.  

Almost all of my research is inspired by patients and I work with two of the most amazing populations – military veterans and cancer patients.


  • PhD, University of Maryland, 1995
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania, 1979
  • BSN, University of Pennsylvania, 1976
  • Diploma, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 1974


Dr. Polomano is a co-director of the University of Pennsylvania NIH-designated Center of Excellence in Pain Education. She directs an inter-professional graduate course on pain science and practice at Penn, and has lectured widely on pain-related topics. Considered the largest cross-campus course in pain science, this course brings together students from Penn’s schools of nursing, dental medicine and medicine, as well as pharmacy students from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.  Over 20 faculty members from the four schools teach this course. Through collaborative, case-based, and interactive learning, students study pain and develop competencies in pain management and strategies to reduce the opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction associated with the treatment of pain. Dr. Polomano also teaches undergraduate and graduate students, and advises doctoral students. 


Working with colleagues at the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrated Pain Management, Dr. Polomano is advancing pain assessment and management practices for combat-injured military service members and veterans across transitions in care. She is conducting research with the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrated Pain Management at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Veterans Administration Medical Centers to test the new Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale. Dr. Polomano has collaborated on studies of the early pain experiences of combat-injured soldiers in combat-support hospitals and during air evacuations from the battlefield. She focuses on pain associated with major extremity injuries.

Clinical Practice

As clinician educator, Dr. Polomano is a senior nurse scientist who, instead of working directly with patients, collaborates with nurses and physicians at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania to translate research and evidence-based practice guidelines into clinical care. She has co-authored many national evidence-based guidelines and expert consensus reports to advance pain care.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Recipient, Congressman John P. Murtha Memorial Award for Excellence in Advancement of Military Pain Medicine 
  • Research Consultant, Defense & Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center  
  • Recipient, American Academy of Pain Medicine Research Abstract Award  
  • Fellow, American Academy of Nursing

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

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