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Meet Our Grant Recipients - Shannon Gillespie
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Shannon Gillespie, Novice Researcher Grant Recipient

Honoring research that seeks to identify factors that put pregnant Black women at risk for premature birth, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) presented its 2013 Novice Researcher Award to Shannon Gillespie, MS, RN. The award was presented at the AWHONN Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

Through generous charitable contributions from AWHONN members to its Every Woman, Every Baby program, the organization presented the research grant to Gillespie for her study entitled, "Pathways to Shortened Gestation among Black Women." “Pre-term labor and delivery is devastating,” said Gillespie. “We must continue to look at pathways so we can better predict who is at risk, better use preventative measures and understand what is happening physiologically.”


The Novice Researcher Award is intended to assist new researchers to begin areas of study, investigate clinical issues or launch a pilot study. Gillespie’s study is her doctoral dissertation project. “I’ve been focusing on the immune system.  There are so many changes to immune function during pregnancy and we are learning what is underlying all of that.  My dissertation project required six small grants and a training fellowship. The AWHONN award was a good amount for a specific project with lots of physiology and lab work, which is very expensive.  It was very helpful to have funding,” said Gillespie.  She will present the findings of her work at the 2016 AWHONN Annual Convention.


Gillespie is a doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University College of Nursing and is pursuing a career as a nurse scientist and educator. In addition to research methods and statistics, her studies have focused on obstetrics, cellular and molecular immunology, psychoneuroimmunology, and genetics. She has also participated in the National Institutes of Health's Summer Genetics Institute.


“Obstetrics has always been a love of mine,” said Gillespie. “I started working in a clinical setting and realized I was always asking ‘why’ because I was interested in the science. I know I will continue to pursue this line of research.  I’ll look at pathways so we can learn how to predict and prevent preterm labor and delivery.  I envision that I’ll be working to solve these problems for the next 30 years of my life.  There is a lot of work to be done.”


“With AWHONN, you can see our work toward optimal birth outcomes and in the continuing care for women,” said Gillespie, who gave birth to her daughter during the study.  “We must do everything we can, one birth at a time.”


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Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Commission on Accreditation.

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