Following a national search, Michelle Kelly, PhD, CRNP, CNE, associate professor, has been selected to pursue a Postdoctoral Fellowship for advanced training in nursing science and developmental pediatrics focusing on adult outcomes of premature infants with the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing. Dr. Kelly is both a neonatal and pediatric nurse practitioner. This fellowship aligns with her research program which has focused on long-term outcomes of preterm birth survivors using the National Survey of Children’s Health data.
Dr. Kelly will be mentored by Dr. Mary Sullivan, a leader in this field, and her interdisciplinary research team conducting an NIH-funded 30-year longitudinal study, that has so far garnered more than $10 million in funding. The 10th wave of the study which Dr. Kelly will be involved with is “Allostatic Load & Epigenetic Mechanisms in Lifecourse Trajectories of Preterm Infants at Age 30.” The study tracks the successes and difficulties from birth to adulthood of a group born premature and compares them to the group of individuals born full-term. Under the team’s guidance, she will initiate a federal grant application that she will bring back to the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing.
Dr. Kelly's body of research has led to multiple publications, with recent work coalescing literature and research that supports that preterm birth is a lifelong effect that can be modified with intervention. In "The Influence of preterm birth beyond infancy" published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in August 2020, she and her co-author call for curriculum and practice standards to advance and include this new body of literature, noting, "Just as recognition of obesity as a significant risk for coronary artery disease began with the 1998 proclamation by the American Heart Association, it is time to make a similar proclamation for preterm birth. Health-care providers must recognize the lifelong risk conferred by preterm birth." During her fellowship, Dr. Kelly will continue to teach in the College's pediatric nurse practitioner track.