The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) has selected Martha A.Q. Curley, RN, PhD, FAAN, as its 2012 Distinguished Research Lecturer.

Established in 1982 and now funded by a grant from Philips Healthcare, Andover, Massachussets, the award recognizes nurses whose program of research significantly influences high acuity and critical care.

Curley, a premier scientist with more than 20 years of scholarly contributions to pediatric critical care nursing, is the 31st recipient of the prestigious annual award. She holds appointments as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, and as a nurse scientist in critical care and cardiovascular nursing at Children’s Hospital Boston.

Her work includes patient positioning, eye care, endotracheal extubation and sedation management. Recipient of more than $ 40 million in federal research award grants – including $ 15 million as principal investigator – she has led multisite clinical trials in pediatric critical care, developed instruments to better assess patient status and risk, and tested interventions to support parent needs in the pediatric intensive care unit.

She is currently studying better ways to manage sedation for children on lifesaving ventilators as the principal investigator for RESTORE, a five-year multisite clinical trial funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The $ 12 million RESTORE grant, the largest in Penn Nursing’s history, supports one of the most comprehensive studies ever undertaken in pediatric critical care, recruiting more than 2,750 patients in 31 of the most prestigious pediatric hospitals in the United States.

Over the past decade, Curley developed and disseminated at least four core pediatric measures, including the Braden Q Scale to predict pediatric pressure ulcer risk; the State Behavioral Scale to assess sedation for infants and young children on mechanical ventilation; the Withdrawal Assessment Tool – version 1 to describe opioid and benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms in acutely ill infants and children; and the Individualized Numeric Rating Scale to assess pain among nonverbal children with profound intellectual disability.

A past leader of the association, she helped to develop the AACN Synergy Model for Patient Care, a framework that bases nursing care on patient and family needs. She is the author of “Synergy: The Unique Relationship Between Nurses and Patients,” a comprehensive sourcebook that depicts successful implementation of the Synergy Model in various healthcare settings including multihospital systems, ambulatory care, staff development and nursing schools. Integration of the Synergy Model into AACN Certification Corporation credentialing programs links clinical practice with patient outcomes.

Curley received her diploma in nursing from Springfield Hospital School of Nursing, Mass., bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and master’s in pediatric acute care nursing from Yale University, New Haven, Conn. She was awarded her PhD in 1997 from Boston College.

As the Distinguished Research Lecturer, the nurse-scientist presents her groundbreaking research Monday, May 21, 2012, during AACN’s National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition. NTI, the world’s largest educational conference and trade show for acute and critical care nurses, takes place Saturday, May 19, through Thursday, May 24, 2012, in Orlando, Fla.

The American Journal of Critical Care (AJCC) will publish an abstract of Curley’s research in its May 2012 issue, followed by a complete manuscript in July 2012.