Nursing Alumna Receives $400K Grant to Study Alzheimer’s

Nursing Alumna Receives $400K Grant to Study Alzheimer’s

Nursing alumna Karen Rose ’81, ’84 received a $428,269 grant in July from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine whether people living with Alzheimer’s are incontinent because of the disease, or whether their incontinence and nighttime agitation are connected and might be able to be managed.

“It’s really exciting,” Rose said. “I actually found out through a congressman’s office. They told me congratulations and then the next day NIH called.”

Rose received her Associate of Nursing from Shenandoah in 1981 and then continued on to get her Bachelor’s of Nursing in 1984.  While at SU, she realized that she not only wanted to practice nursing, but her passion was to teach nursing. Rose immediately enrolled at the Medical College of Virginia and earned her master’s in 1986. For a few years, she worked clinically in the doctor’s hospital in Richmond, Va. but realized again that she still wanted to pursue teaching. In 2002, Rose entered the doctorate program at the University of Virginia (UVA) and completed this program in 2006. At this point, Rose became a faculty member at UVA and had reached her goal. She is the director of undergraduate programs at UVA, teaches a leadership course in the undergraduate program, and also mentors and helps doctoral students.

“What I enjoy most about teaching is helping students navigate their education and career,” Rose said. “I help them understand that there are low points and high points, but having perseverance and being passionate about the research you are undertaking is what it’s all about.”

It was during her doctoral work that Rose became passionate about Alzheimer’s.  She mentioned how her grandfather had the disease and can remembers her grandmother as his caregiver. Seeing how desperate her grandmother and other caregivers like her were to maintain their loved ones at home really sparked Rose’s attention. She wanted to study the disease and hopefully find ways in which caregivers were able to keep their loved ones at home longer.

“I looked at the reasons why people with Alzheimer’s are institutionalized: sleep disturbance, urinary incontinence, agitation,” explained Rose. “Those are all nursing types of things. If we are able to find an answer, we can help caregivers take care of their loved ones longer at home.”

With the grant in place, Rose’s team will begin its study September 1. The study will last two years and Rose anticipates having 50 participants. 

Looking back at her time at Shenandoah, Rose realizes that those beginning years had a huge impact on where she is today.

“I had great role models at Shenandoah,” said Rose. “Instructors such as Daris Small, Pamela Webber and Kate Cullers were inspirational. I can remember Pam Webber at the time being in the midst of her master’s or doctoral program and seeing how passionate she was in her work with neurological patients. You really got the feeling that nurses could really affect the quality of life and people’s lives in positive ways.”

As the 50th Anniversary of Nursing Celebration approaches, Rose is ecstatic to be a part of SU’s nursing history. She hopes to attend the celebration Oct. 5, 2012. For more information about the celebration click HERE.

“I’m very proud to be a part of that legacy,” commented Rose.

Read full press release about Rose’s grant HERE.