Internationally known pain researcher named as endowed professor

Published: March 17th, 2015

Category: Faculty, News, Research

An internationally known pain specialist who specializes in palliative and end-of-life care has joined the University of Florida College of Nursing as the Prairieview Trust-Earl and Margo Powers Endowed Professor.Diana J. Wilkie, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, comes to UF from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she served as professor and Harriet J. Werley Endowed Chair for Nursing Research. She joined UF on Jan. 1.

Wilkie, a member of the Institute of Medicine, has devoted her research program to management of cancer pain and to end-of-life issues. She has been continuously funded since 1986 from numerous organizations such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — totaling more than $37 million.

Her clinical work with cancer patients led to the development of a computer-based pain report system that allows a patient to describe his or her pain and generates a report for the clinician with suggestions for appropriate interventions. Hired as part of an effort to fuel continued expansion of one of the state’s largest, most comprehensive cancer programs staffed by some of the nation’s top oncology experts, Wilkie will be leading efforts to establish a Center of Excellence in Palliative Care Research housed within the College of Nursing.

“At UF Health, we are committed to quality health care across the life span, and Dr. Wilkie’s expertise and leadership will enhance our mission to provide superior palliative care to our patients and to address complex issues like pain management in patients with cancer and other chronic diseases,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs at UF and president of UF Health. “We are pleased that Dr. Wilkie has joined our team.”

The Prairieview Trust-Earl and Margo Powers Endowed Professorship was established in 2003 by the Gainesville-based Prairieview Trust. Longtime supporters Earl and Margo Powers, now both deceased, played an instrumental role in the gift that established the professorship. The Powers had deep roots in the Gainesville community and were dedicated to supporting quality nursing education and patient care. Margo served as a member of the college of nursing’s capital campaign advisory boards and on the board at UF Health Shands for many years.

“I am confident that Dr. Wilkie’s strong leadership in pain, aging and end-of-life care will help to honor the legacy of the Prairieview Trust and Earl and Margo Powers,” said Anna McDaniel, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, dean of the College of Nursing.

Currently, Wilkie is conducting a randomized clinical trial testing the effects of computerized pain tools on pain control for cancer patients receiving hospice care, a study focused on advanced care planning for African Americans with dementia, and two studies focused on improving outcomes for adults with sickle cell disease. The long-term goal of her research is to help clinicians effectively combine pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic therapies for management of acute, chronic and cancer pain.

“Dr. Wilkie’s expertise and research in these vital health issues affecting quality of life will help make a difference in the lives of patients worldwide,” said Thomas Pearson, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president for research and education at UF Health. “With the aging of our population and the critical need to attend to quality of life issues and pain control at the end of life, her research contributes significantly to the delivery of patient care and will help strengthen the reach of our UF Health Cancer Center.

Wilkie is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and served for five years as an American Cancer Society professor of oncology nursing. She has authored or co-authored more than 154 scholarly publications and serves as a reviewer on a number of journals, including the Journal of Palliative Medicine, Cancer Nursing and the Journal of Pain

“I am honored to be named the Prairieview Trust-Earl and Margo Powers Endowed Professor and am delighted to be joining the University of Florida at such an exciting time,” Wilkie said. “I am eager to collaborate with interdisciplinary colleagues both in the UF Health System and across campuses to further advance research in cancer care, palliative care, pain and aging.”