Linda Janusek, PhD, RN, FAAN, has received the 2013 Senior Scientist Award from the Midwest Nursing Research Society. Dr. Janusek is a professor and the Niehoff Endowed Chair for Research at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON).
Every year, the Midwest Nursing Research Society presents awards to select members of the Society who have made significant contributions to the profession of nursing through research. Dr. Janusek was among four investigators who received this award at the Midwest Nursing Research Society Annual Meeting in Chicago last month.
“It was an honor to be recognized for my scientific achievements and a privilege to be included among an esteemed group of nurse scientists,” Dr. Janusek said. “I look forward to continuing my research to advance understanding of how psychosocial stress increases risk for poor health across the lifespan.”
Dr. Janusek is a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded researcher whose work focuses on the impact of psychosocial stress on physical and behavioral responses in vulnerable populations. Her research has demonstrated the detrimental effects of psychological stress on the immune system related to cancer control. Most recently, she identified that early life adversity predisposes women with breast cancer to an impaired immune response to cancer and to more intense and persistent behavioral symptoms such as depression, fatigue, and perceived stress.
Dr. Janusek’s work also has supported the use of complementary approaches to cancer care. She was one of the first to document the potential for mindfulness-based stress-reduction to improve the psychological wellbeing of those with cancer and to restore immune function after cancer treatment. This work has received sustained funding from the National Cancer Institute and is consistently cited in the scientific literature.
Dr. Janusek has most recently extended her research to the field of behavioral epigenetics. Behavioral epigenetics is a rapidly evolving area of science that seeks to explain how a person’s psychosocial environment is translated to the genome to influence risk for disease across the lifespan. Her research investigates epigenetic mechanisms that link psychosocial stress and social disadvantage to poor health. She is especially interested in the role of early life stress, which can leave long-lasting imprints to affect expression of genes that regulate inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress during adulthood. Such an approach is particularly exciting, because unfavorable epigenetic imprints can be improved by adopting healthy lifestyle choices.
“Linda has made significant contributions to advance nursing research and guide our profession,” said Nancy Hogan, PhD, RN, FAAN, distinguished professor and director of research, MNSON. “Her work demonstrates the positive impact that empowering individuals to self-manage stress-related symptoms can have on health.”
Dr. Janusek received her bachelor of science in nursing from Bradley University and her PhD in physiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She also completed post-graduate work in molecular biology at the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass. Dr. Janusek also has served as a member of the NIH nursing science grant review group.