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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
NIH taps Dr. Shannon Zenk as director of the National Institute of Nursing Research
National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., has selected Shannon N. Zenk, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.N., F.A.A.N., as director of NIH’s National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR). A registered nurse and leading nurse researcher, Dr. Zenk is currently Nursing Collegiate Professor in the Department of Population Health Nursing Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Nursing, and a fellow at the UIC Institute for Health Research and Policy. She is expected to begin her new role as the NINR director in early fall. NINR supports and conducts basic and clinical research that spans and integrates the behavioral and biological sciences and develops the scientific basis for clinical practice.
“Dr. Zenk’s diverse and original research experience paired with her expertise as a nurse educator make her an ideal choice to lead NIH’s efforts in nursing science,” said Dr. Collins. “I am delighted to have her join the NIH leadership team in the fall. I also want to recognize Tara A. Schwetz, Ph.D., for her exemplary leadership in serving as the NINR acting director since January 2020, in addition to her role as NIH associate deputy director in the NIH Office of the Director.”
As NINR director, Dr. Zenk will oversee NINR’s annual budget of nearly $170 million, the large majority of which supports extramural research at institutions across the Nation. NINR science seeks to improve the lives of individuals and families living with illness and to develop personalized strategies to maximize health and well-being at all stages of life, and across diverse populations and settings. NINR’s intramural program on the NIH campus conducts research to better understand and manage symptoms. Within both of those programs, NINR devotes significant resources to training and career development to foster the next generation of nurse scientists.
Dr. Zenk’s own research focuses on social inequities and health with a goal of identifying effective, multi-level approaches to improve health and eliminate racial/ethnic and socioeconomic health disparities. Her research portfolio also includes NIH-supported work into urban food environments, community health solutions and veterans’ health. Through pioneering research on the built environment and food deserts, Dr. Zenk and her colleagues helped bring national attention to the problem of inadequate access to healthful foods in low-income and Black neighborhoods.
Dr. Zenk was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 2013 and was inducted into the International Nurse Researchers Hall of Fame in 2019. She has spent time as a visiting scholar in Rwanda and Australia. She earned her bachelor’s in nursing, magna cum laude, from Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington; her master’s degrees in public health nursing and community health sciences from UIC; and her doctorate in health behavior and health education from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
About the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR): NINR supports research and training to advance symptom science, promote wellness, support self-management of chronic conditions, enhance palliative and end-of-life care, and develop the next generation of nurse scientists. For more information about NINR, visit https://www.ninr.nih.gov.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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