UIC researcher inducted into nursing Hall of Fame

University of Illinois at Chicago professor Eileen Collins will be one of 19 nurse researchers to be inducted into the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame.

Eileen Collins

UIC College of Nursing professor Eileen Collins

The ceremony will be held July 23 at Sigma Theta Tau’s 27th International Nursing Research Congress in Cape Town, South Africa. Researchers representing Canada, Lebanon, South Africa, Taiwan and the United States will be honored.

This is the third consecutive year that a UIC nursing professor has been named to the Hall of Fame. Tonda Hughes, professor of health systems science and associate dean of global health, was honored in 2015, and Carol Ferrans, professor and associate dean for research, in 2014.

Collins said when she began her nursing career she never envisioned being honored with such an award.

“It’s very humbling to be in the company of such outstanding scientists,” she said. “It’s important to remember that no one receives these awards in isolation. Throughout my career I have had an outstanding team of colleagues to work and collaborate with. Without them, our work would not have been accomplished.”

Collins, who is also a research career scientist at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Hines, Illinois, develops interventions to reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illness. She uses exercise to increase tolerance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and chronic renal failure. She also utilizes breathing retraining combined with exercise to reduce the trapping of air in the lungs and labored breathing.

She and her colleagues developed a first-of-its-kind controlled study to determine whether patients with COPD could exercise longer if they were engaged in ventilation feedback; ventilation feedback along with a regular exercise program; or exercise alone.

While exercising on a treadmill, patients in the ventilation feedback group had their breathing monitored by a computer program that provided them with real-time biofeedback. Researchers could enter goals into the computer, which were presented graphically on a screen.

The computer program allowed patients to see their current speed and depth of breathing, encouraging them to inhale more slowly and exhale more completely in order to achieve their goal.

Collins is also collaborating on a pilot study to learn if music can help patients with peripheral arterial disease — which makes movement painful — stick with an exercise regimen. They are searching for a way to use music to promote exercise and distract from the pain.

In addition to her latest honor, Collins has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and has received the Distinguished Researcher Award from UIC. She has received more than $22 million in research funding throughout her career.

Created in 2010, the Hall of Fame recognizes nurse researchers who have achieved significant and sustained national or international recognition and whose research has improved the profession and people it serves.

“These cumulative research achievements of these 19 honorees has been nothing short of life changing,” said Cathy Catrambone, Sigma Theta Tau International’s president. “We celebrate their achievements in advancing world health, and I offer my personal congratulations. I look forward to learning and sharing more about their contributions.”

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