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Emory nursing doctoral students receive prestigious NIH predoctoral fellowship awards
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Abby Britt, Stephanie Lee, and Mary Clair Montilus

Kirschstein Fellows Abby Britt, Stephanie Lee, and Mary Claire Montilus

Three Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing doctoral students have been awarded the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The fellowships, which enable promising predoctoral students to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research, are among the most highly regarded and competitive research awards undergoing NIH peer review.

Abby Britt has received the fellowship for her research project, “Prenatal Epigenetics: Trauma and Outcomes of Labor Dysfunction.” Focusing on the impact of trauma on maternal health, specifically among Black pregnant individuals, the study aims to unravel the physiological mechanisms through which trauma may contribute to disparities in labor complications. The research holds the potential to identify modifiable risk factors for labor complications and offer a pathway to reducing racial disparities in pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality.

Stephanie Lee is recognized for her research project, “The Experience of Cancer-Related Financial Hardship Among Individuals with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) in the Rural Southeast.” By exploring the experiences of CML patients facing financial challenges due to the costs of cancer care, her research has the potential to inform the development of interventions tailored to reduce the risk of financial hardship and improve health outcomes and quality of life for rural cancer patients.

Mary Claire Montilus was awarded for her project, “Effects of trauma on retention in HIV care and durable viral suppression among African American men and women.” Her study delves into the implications of trauma among African American people living with HIV, aiming to understand its role in health disparities within the HIV health continuum. Her research seeks insight into the impact of trauma on the ability to seek regular HIV medical care and maintain a suppressed viral load, ultimately contributing to efforts to reduce health inequities in this community.

“We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Abby Britt, Stephanie Lee, and Mary Claire Montilus for their outstanding achievements and exceptional dedication to advancing research that holds the potential to drive positive changes in health care and improve the lives of individuals facing significant health challenges,” said Drenna Waldrop, associate dean of research at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “Their contributions align perfectly with our mission to address health disparities and drive innovation in health care.”

These research grants are supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers F31NR020847 (Britt), F31NR020988 (Lee) and F31NR021000 (Montilus). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About the School of Nursing

As one of the nation's top nursing schools, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University is committed to educating visionary nurse leaders and scholars. Ranked the No. 1 master's, No. 2 BSN, and No. 6 DNP programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, the school has been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing. The school offers undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs, bringing together cutting-edge resources, distinguished faculty, top clinical experiences, and access to leading health care partners to shape the future of nursing and impact the world's health and well-being. Learn more at

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