PTSD researcher earns national nursing honor

Lapiz-Bluhm one of 12 in U.S. to be named a 2013 Nurse Faculty Scholar by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

M. Danet Lapiz-Bluhm, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is one of 12 nursing educators in the United States to be awarded a highly competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program this year. The Nurse Faculty Scholar award is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.

Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm will receive a three-year, $350,000 award to promote her academic career and support her research in post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing at the UT Health Science Center, said Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm has made university history.

“She is the first professor from our nursing school to earn this prestigious honor. We are so proud of her selection; she competed with the best in the country. Being named a Nurse Faculty Scholar acknowledges Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm’s achievements thus far and allows her to conduct life-changing research,” Dr. Breslin said.

Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm said the award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides her an opportunity to conduct research on cognitive and neurotrophic markers for PTSD and response to treatment.

“I will focus on understanding the role of cognitive flexibility, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and a single nucleotide polymorphism of the BDNF gene on PTSD and the speed of response following cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Knowledge of the cognitive and neurotrophic mechanisms associated with the speed of response to CPT will potentially inform the development of more effective strategies to treat or prevent PTSD, especially among military personnel who return from combat deployment,” she said.

For her research project, Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm will collaborate with the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (commonly called STRONG-STAR), a multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium funded by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to develop and evaluate the most effective early interventions possible for the detection, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of combat-related PTSD in active-duty military personnel and recently discharged veterans.

Specifically, her research will piggy-back on a clinical trial that aims to provide a personalized variable length CPT to active-duty military personnel with PTSD until they reach good end-state functioning. This clinical trial challenges the “one-size fits all” concept of the standardized 12-session CPT. The proposed personalized approach has potential to improve the success rate of the intervention.
The National Center for PTSD reports that, using the PTSD Checklist, the prevalence of PTSD among previously deployed Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom service members was 13.8 percent. This rate is higher compared to the lifetime prevalence of PTSD which has been estimated at 7.8 percent in the general population.

The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program is strengthening the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of leaders in academic nursing. Dr. Lapiz-Bluhm is part of the program’s sixth cohort.


The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country’s leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving National Institutes of Health funding. The university’s schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced more than 29,000 graduates. The $765.2 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways “We make lives better®,” visit

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