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2013 NINR Director's Lecture: It's All in the Mind: Heart Failure and the Brain

May 21, 2013 10:30 am - 11:30 am

NIH Clinical Center's Lipsett Amphitheater

Bethesda, MD


Dr. Mary Woo, Professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Nursing, presented the third NINR Director’s Lecture on May 21, 2013  in the NIH Clinical Center’s Lipsett Amphitheater.

Dr. Woo discussed her research on brain-heart interactions in a lecture entitled "It's All in the Mind: Heart Failure and the Brain."

If you missed the event live, the NIH Videocast is available at

About the Speaker:

Dr. Woo worked as a staff nurse in cardiac critical care for 13 years and received her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Cardiovascular Nursing from UCLA. Her initial research examined heart rate variability as an independent predictor of sudden cardiac death risk in advanced heart failure patients. As a result of this research, Dr. Woo developed Poincar├® plots, one of the first heart rate variability assessment techniques to be an independent predictor of sudden death risk in advanced heart failure patients. With the support of an NINR training grant, Dr. Woo examined predictors of sudden death risk as well as the influences of sleep on brain structure in heart failure. She was the first investigator to report that the specific sites of gray matter loss in heart failure patients are impacted by the amount of sleep disordered breathing and gender.

Dr. Woo’s current research transcends many areas including patient care, cardiovascular and neurologic diseases. Her investigations suggest that heart failure patients have significant brain damage in areas that dramatically impact cognition, emotion, and breathing. By developing interventions that minimize or reverse the brain damage in heart failure, Dr. Woo aims to improve health outcomes for heart failure patients.

In addition to numerous presentations, she has published more than 100 articles and a number of book chapters in the area of cardiovascular disease. Among other awards, Dr. Woo was recognized as a "Pillar of Cardiovascular Nursing Research" by the American Heart Association (AHA) Council on Cardiovascular Nursing.

About the Director’s Lecture:

The NINR Director’s Lecture is an annual event, designed to bring the nation’s top nurse scientists to the NIH campus to share their work and interests with a trans-disciplinary audience. The lecture was initiated as part of the year-long observation of the Institute’s first 25 years at the NIH.

Previous Director’s Lectures:

The 2012 Director’s Lecture was given by Dr. Elaine Larson, Associate Dean for Research and Professor of Pharmaceutical and Therapeutic Research at the Columbia University School of Nursing. Dr. Larson discussed her research in infection prevention and control in a lecture titled "Infection Prevention: An Interdisciplinary Team Approach."

The 2011 Director's Lecture was given by Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, Dean of the Ohio State University College of Nursing. Dr. Melnyk discussed research results from her Creating Opportunities for Parent Empowerment (COPE) intervention program, which has been shown to improve outcomes among critically ill children, premature infants, and their parents.

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