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Catherine L. Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN

Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Nursing
Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Nursing
Former Dean of the School of Nursing
(919) 613-9773

Catherine L. Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Nursing at the Duke University School of Nursing and holds an appointment as Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. Appointed as Dean of Duke’s School of Nursing in 2004, Dr. Gilliss was the first alumna in the history of the School to hold that position. She served for ten years as Dean of the School of Nursing and Vice Chancellor for Nursing Affairs at Duke University, stepping down in August 2014. She will be on leave for the 2014-2015 academic year, during which she will be a Fellow in the Stanford University Distinguished Careers Institute.

For over 40 years, Dr. Gilliss has held faculty appointments in universities offering baccalaureate and higher degrees in nursing. For the last twenty years she has held significant and progressively more responsible administrative leadership positions in academic nursing, including Chair, UCSF’s Department of Family Health Nursing (1993-1998), Dean, Yale University School of Nursing (1998-2004) and Dean and Vice Chancellor at Duke (2004-2014). Her own engagement in academic leadership and the leadership and governance of professional societies (President, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties; President, American Academy of Nursing; Regent, University of Portland; Board Member, Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers [TROSA]) has strengthened her commitment to leadership development in others. Dr. Gilliss serves as a Director of CHIMERIX, a publically traded biopharmaceutical company devoted to discovery, development and commercialization of novel, oral antivirals in areas of high unmet medical need.

She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a member of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, has been honored as Distinguished Alumna by UCSF and Duke and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau. She has been awarded honorary degrees by Yale University (MA) and the University of Portland (DHL).

Academic Program Affiliations

  • PhD in Nursing Program
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice Program


  • PhD - University of California - San Francisco
  • NP Certificate - University of Rochester
  • MSN - The Catholic University of America
  • BSN - Duke University

Research Interests

With backgrounds in both psychiatric and primary care, Dr. Gilliss has always been interested in the impact of behavior on the recognition and management of illness. Her scientific interests have evolved to a focus on the family as a complex system and its response to and role in shaping the course of chronic illness. Her completed work addresses the family and chronic illness by examining: 1) the experience of family members in the context of illness; 2) the impact of innovative models of nursing intervention on situations that affect the family and its members; and 3) the development and synthesis of scientific work in this area of nursing science. Overall, her scholarly works are considered pioneering and the body of her work was the basis for her receipt of the 2007 Distinguished Contributions to Family Nursing Research Award.

More recently, she has focused on translational and implementation science and innovative models of health care delivery. She served as Director of the Duke Translational Nursing Institute, a venture with the Duke University Health System Nursing Service, from 2006-2013.

Her earliest funded work tested a telephone outcall intervention that employed advanced practice nurses trained to assist the patient and spouse in managing symptoms and interpersonal conflict and developing healthy lifestyle changes. Results of this randomized controlled trial demonstrated significantly improved recovery rates in the experimental group. She is just completing a project designed to test the impact of novel approaches to discharge planning preparation on the rate of hospital readmission for persons with congestive heart failure.

Awards and Honors

  • 2013 || UCSF Jane Norbeck Distinguished Alumni Award, University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing
  • 2010 || North Carolina Institute of Medicine, Member, (appointed by Governor)
  • 2009 || Helene Fuld Health Trust Professor of Nursing in the School of Nursing, Duke University Trustees
  • 2008 || Triangle Business Journal's Health Care Heroes Award: Health Care Manager
  • 2007 || Distinguished Contribution to Family Nursing Research Award, 8th International Family Nursing Conference, Bangkok, Thailand
  • 2007 || Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), University of Portland
  • 2007 || Jean S. Vallance Lecturer, School of Nursing, College of Health & Human Development, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
  • 2007 || UCSF Nursing Centennial Wall of Fame (Distinguished Alumni), University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing
  • 2004 || Yale School of Nursing Medal, School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • 2002 || Jean Kelley Lecturer, School of Nursing, University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL
  • 2002 || Legion of Honor Award, Chapel of Four Chaplains, United States Military
  • 1998 || Honorary Masters Degree, Yale University, New Haven, CT
  • 1995 || Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Educator, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties
  • 1995 || Pew Charitable Trust's Excellence in Primary Care Education, Program Category, The Pew Charitable Trust
  • 1994 || Pew Charitable Trust's Excellence in Primary Care Education, Honorable Mention for Program, The Pew Charitable Trust
  • 1993 || United States Public Health Service Primary Health Care Policy Fellow
  • 1991 || Distinguished Alumna, School of Nursing, Duke University, Durham, NC
  • 1991 || First Visiting Scholar in Family Nursing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
  • 1991 || Visiting Professor, School of Nursing, Loyola University, Chicago, IL
  • 1990 || Elected Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 1989 || American Journal of Nursing, Book of the Year Award, Pediatric Nursing and American Journal of Nursing
  • 1989 || Distinction in Teaching Award, Honorable Mention, Academic Senate, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 1988 || BS/MS Teacher of the Year Award, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 1986 || Visiting Fellow, Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences, Melbourne, Australia
  • 1985 || Distinguished Practitioner in Nursing, National Academy of Practice
  • 1983 || Century Club Dissertation Support Award, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 1983 || President's Fellowship Award (post-doctoral study), University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 1981 || National Research Service Award, Pre-doctoral Training (F31 NU05498)
  • 1981 || Regents Fellow, University of California, San Francisco, CA
  • 1979 || PHS, Title VIII Support for Doctoral Study
  • 1978 || Robert Wood Johnson Fellowship, Primary Care, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • 1974 || Sigma Theta Tau
  • 1972 || National Institute of Mental Health Traineeship, for Masters Study
  • 1969 || National Institute of Mental Health Traineeship, for Baccalaureate Study

Areas of Expertise

  • Chronic Illness
  • Family Health
  • Nursing Education
  • Translational Research

Representative Publications

  • 2014 -- PubMed # : 25189535 Davis, L. L. and Chestnutt, D. and Molloy, M. and Deshefy-Longhi, T. and Shim, B. and Gilliss, C. L. Adapters, strugglers, and case managers: a typology of spouse caregivers. Qual Health Res. November, 2014 24(11); 1492-500
  • 2013 -- PubMed # : 24256929 Granger, B. B. and Zhao, Y. and Rogers, J. and Miller, C. and Gilliss, C. L. and Champagne, M. The language of data: tools to translate evidence for nurses in clinical practice. J Nurses Prof Dev. Nov-Dec, 2013 29(6); 294-300
  • 2013 -- PubMed # : 24316773 Katsanis, S. H. and Dungan, J. R. and Gilliss, C. L. and Ginsburg, G. A. Educating future providers of personalized medicine. N C Med J. Nov.-Dec., 2013 74(6); 491-2
  • 2013 -- PubMed # : 23827824 Shim, B. and Barroso, J. and Gilliss, C. L. and Davis, L. L. Finding meaning in caring for a spouse with dementia. Appl Nurs Res. August, 2013 26(3); 121-6
  • 2013 -- Schwartz, A. (Discussion: D. Vlahov, S. Hassmiller, and C. Gilliss) Gazing into the future of advanced practice nursing Science of Caring (UCSF School of Nursing). March, 2013
  • 2012 -- PubMed # : 23036760 Woods, N. F. and Gilliss, C. L. Commentary on: New rules for the game: interdisciplinary education for health professionals. Nurs Outlook. September-October, 2012 60(5); 270-1
  • 2012 -- PubMed # : 23036758 Gilliss, C. L. and Woods, N. F. Commentary on: Nursing research and graduate education. Nurs Outlook. September-October, 2012 60(5); 263
  • 2012 -- PubMed # : 22339774 Granger, B. B. and Prvu-Bettger, J. and Aucoin, J. and Fuchs, M. A. and Mitchell, P. H. and Holditch-Davis, D. and Roth, D. and Califf, R. M. and Gilliss, C. L. An academic-health service partnership in nursing: lessons from the field. J Nurs Scholarsh. March, 2012 44(1); 71-9
  • 2012 -- PubMed # : 23153345 Choi, J. and Guiterrez, Y. and Gilliss, C. and Lee, K. A. Physical activity, weight, and waist circumference in midlife women. Health Care Women Int. 2012 33(12); 1086-95 PMC3563258
  • 2011 -- PubMed # : 22087596 Choi, J. and Guiterrez, Y. and Gilliss, C. and Lee, K. A. Body mass index in multiethnic midlife women: influence of demographic characteristics and physical activity. Health Care Women Int. December, 2011 32(12); 1079-87 PMC3308340


Grant Funding (Selected)

  • Community-based, transitional care to reduce re-hospitalization for heart failure

    Duke Endowment
    07/2011 to 06/2014
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • Maturation of Body Temperature and Peripheral Blood Flow in Preterm Infants

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
    09/2010 to 08/2013
    Role: Mentor
  • Survival and Age Biases in Gene Association with Coronary Disease

    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    10/2009 to 07/2011
    Role: Mentor
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship Grant for T. Deshefy-Longhi

    National Institutes of Health
    T-32 AG0029, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development
    04/2008 to 04/2010
    Role: Co-Mentor
  • Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute

    National Center for Research Resources
    07/2006 to 06/2011
    Role: Director, Duke Translational Nursing Institute
  • Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in At-Risk Youth

    1R 01NR008244
    09/2003 to 05/2007
    Role: Co-investigator
  • Project ASSIST for Chronic Illness Caregivers

    National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR)
    09/2002 to 12/2008
    Role: Co-investigator
  • Reducing Health Disparities by Self and Family Management

    National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research
    09/2002 to 06/2007
    Role: PI
  • Preventing Type 2 Diabetes in High Risk Teens

    NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
    09/2000 to 08/2003
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • Nursing Intervention for Youth with Chronic Illness

    07/1999 to 06/2000
    Role: Co-investigator


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program launches the new DNP Executive Leadership Specialty beginning in fall 2017.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Catherine Gilliss, Comprehensive Care Center Campaign Committee chair and TROSA board of directors member; and Chancellor A. Eugene Washington joined TROSA Founder and President Kevin McDonald, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Kim Blair, T. Stran Summers, and TROSA Board of Directors Chair Greg Britz for the ground breaking celebration of the organization's Comprehensive Care Center.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Margaret Midge Bowers along with Catherine Gilliss, Bradi Granger, MSN student Sarah Baxt, and MSN alumni Carilin Meggitt publish article entitled "Implementing Electronic Tablet-based Education of Acute Care Patients" in the February issue of Critical Care Nurse.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Former Dean Catherine Gilliss was featured in a Forbes article entitled "3 Things You Need to Successfully Navigate Your Next Act." Click here to read article.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Recently, eight DUSON faculty members - Marion E. Broome, Catherine Gilliss, Barbara Turner, Christina Hendrix, Michael Relf, Tracey Yap, Melissa Batchelor-Murphy, and Bei Wu - recently attended the "Accelerating Global Health and Nursing" 2015 Fudan-Duke International Nursing Forum Program in Shanghai, China. The event was co-hosted by the Schools of Nursing at Fudan University and Duke University with more than 500 people in attendance including deans, prominent nursing scholars, educators and students from top nursing schools in the U.S. and China.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Duke University School of Nursing held its annual Nursing Reunion Weekend with nearly 100 alumni, faculty, staff and students in attendance.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Catherine Gilliss has been selected to serve on a national advisory council that will lead the American Academy of Nursing's newly launched Institute for Nursing Leadership, which houses the Academy's work to place more nurses on governing boards, commissions and task forces with an emphasis

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catherine Gilliss has been selected to participate in the first cohort of Stanford's Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI), a year-long program created to provide an opportunity for personal reflection and intellectual exploration to exceptional leaders who are interested in reinventing and redirecting their careers toward roles with a social impact. Read More

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Several members of the DUSON community were in attendance at the 13th Annual Leadership Conference of the National Hartford Centers of Gerontological Nursing Excellence in New Orleans, La., November 18-20, 2013.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dean Catherine Gilliss is profiled in the Alumni Hub section of the Fall 2013 edition of UCSF Magazine.