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DIR Scientific Director: Dr. Ann Cashion

Ann Cashion, PhD, RN, FAAN

Ann CashionNINR Acting Director
Scientific Director
Principal Investigator
Genomic and Clinical Biomarkers Unit
Symptom Management Branch
Division of Intramural Research

Research Topics

At any given time, more than 100,000 Americans await an organ transplant that will potentially save their life. Some of those fortunate enough to receive an organ, however, face another struggle: weight gain, a significant risk factor for diminished long-term outcomes. It is a pervasive problem in this population; up to 90% of kidney transplant patients gain an unhealthy amount of weight following their surgeries.

Dr. Ann Cashion’s research seeks to better understand the factors leading to post-transplant weight gain. Her expertise is in genetic markers that predict clinical outcomes, in particular the genetic/genomic and environmental components associated with outcomes of organ transplantation. Dr. Cashion has combined genomic technology (microarrays) and behavioral questionnaires to investigate the gene-environment interactions leading to obesity in recipients of kidney transplantations during the first year after transplant. She expands her work as the lead investigator of NINR’s Genomic and Clinical Biomarkers Lab, where she uses the NIH-Symptom Science Model to identify biomarkers to predict "at-risk" populations and guide therapeutic management for multiple health outcomes.

As NINR’s scientific director, Dr. Cashion oversees research conducted by nurse scientists in the Division of Intramural Research, which focuses on the underlying biological mechanisms for a range of symptoms, their effect on patients, and how patients respond to interventions. Her goals as director include opening up more opportunities for nurse scientists to come to NINR for short periods and training the next generation of nurse scientists. Her vision is to build an intramural program that is dedicated to discovering and implementing ways to alleviate symptoms and improve patient outcomes.


From 2011-2013, Dr. Cashion served as the Senior Advisor to the Office of the Director and Acting Scientific Director before being appointed Scientific Director in November 2013. Dr. Cashion was named NINR Acting Deputy Director in January 2018.

Prior to her appointment at NINR, Cashion was professor and chair of the Department of Acute and Chronic Care in the College of Nursing, University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC). She joined the faculty in 2000, shortly after earning her doctorate at UTHSC. Also in 2000 Dr. Cashion participated in the inaugural NINR Summer Genetics Institute (SGI). Drawn by the idea of incorporating genetics and genomics into her research, she credits the SGI with changing the trajectory of her career.

During her tenure at UTHSC, Dr. Cashion researched early biomarkers of acute rejection in recipients of pancreas transplantations. She also shared her expertise, mentoring numerous doctoral students on how to incorporate genomics into their programs of research and chairing an NIH Integrated Review Group Study Section for training applications.

Prior to her work as a nurse scientist, Dr. Cashion practiced as a critical care nurse and clinical nurse specialist for nearly two decades in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Currently, Dr. Cashion serves as a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health. She was previously on the Board of Directors for the Alumni Association of the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program, served as co-chair of the Genetics Expert Panel for the American Academy of Nursing, and served as Communication Chair of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored GAPPNet (Genetic Applications in Practice and Prevention Network). 

Other leadership experiences and honors include Past-President of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG), selection as one of 20 nurses into the 2005 Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow program, selection as one of 10 featured nurse scientists on the Johnson and Johnson Nurse Scientists’ video, and receiving the ISONG Founder’s Award in recognition of outstanding genetics research and scholarship. She has presented and published numerous times on her research findings related to transplantation and genetics. 

Dr. Cashion received her BSN from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her MNSc from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus, and her PhD from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Selected Publications

  1. Cashion AK, Gill J, Hawes R, Henderson WA, Saligan L. National Institutes of Health symptom science model sheds light on patient symptoms. Nurs Outlook. 2016 May 29. pii: S0029-6554(16)30070-7. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27349632 
  2. Cho YE, Latour LL, Kim H, Turtzo LC, Olivera A, Livingston WS, Wang D, Martin C, Lai C, Cashion A, Gill J. Older age results in differential gene expression after mild traumatic brain injury and is linked to imaging differences at acute follow-up. Front Aging Neurosci. 2016 Jul 13;8:168. PMID: 27468266
  3. Williams JK, Cashion AK, Shekar S, Ginsburg GS. Genomics, clinical research, and learning health care systems: Strategies to improve patient care. Nurs Outlook. 2016 May-Jun;64(3):225-8. PMID: 26821732
  4. Cho YE, Kim HS, Lai C, Stanfill A, Cashion A. Oxidative stress is associated with weight gain in recipients at 12-months following kidney transplantation. Clin Biochem. 2016 Feb;49(3):237-42. PMID: 26545907 
  5. Cashion AK, Grady PA. The National Institutes of Health/National Institutes of Nursing Research intramural research program and the development of the National Institutes of Health Symptom Science Model. Nurs Outlook. 2015 Jul-Aug;63(4):484-7. PMID: 26187087
  6. Cashion AK, Hathaway DK, Stanfill A, Thomas F, Ziebarth JD, Cui Y, Cowan PA, Eason J. Pre-transplant predictors of one year weight gain after kidney transplantation. Clin Transplant. 2014 Nov;28(11):1271-8. PMID: 25159302
  7. Bloodworth RF, Ward KD, Relyea GE, Cashion AK. Food availability as a determinant of weight gain among renal transplant recipients. Res Nurs Health. 2014 Jun;37(3):253-9. PMID: 24805885 
  8. Cashion A, Stanfill A, Thomas F, Xu L, Sutter T, Eason J, Ensell M, Homayouni R. Expression levels of obesity-related genes are associated with weight change in kidney transplant recipients. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59962. PMID: 23544116
  9. Taylor JY, Kraja AT, de Las Fuentes L, Stanfill AG, Clark A, Cashion A. An overview of the genomics of metabolic syndrome. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2013 Mar;45(1):52-9. PMID: 23368731
  10. Genomic Nursing State of the Science Advisory Panel, Calzone KA, Jenkins J, Bakos AD, Cashion AK, Donaldson N, Feero WG, Feetham S, Grady PA, Hinshaw AS, Knebel AR, Robinson N, Ropka ME, Seibert D, Stevens KR, Tully LA, Webb JA. A blueprint for genomic nursing science. J Nurs Scholarsh. 2013 Mar;45(1):96-104. PMID: 23368636
  11. Cashion, Umberger RA, Goodwin SB, Sutter TR. Collection and storage of human blood and adipose for genomic analysis of clinical samples. Res Nurs Health. 2011 Oct;34(5):408-18. PMID: 21812005 
  12. Cashion AK, Sabek O, Driscoll C, Gaber L, Tolley E, Gaber AO. Serial analysis of biomarkers of acute pancreas allograft rejection. Clin Transplant. 2010 Nov-Dec;24(6):E214-22. PMID: 20497195
  13. Williams SH, Cashion A. Negative affectivity and cardiovascular disease in African American single mothers. ABNF J. 2008 Spring;19(2):64-7. PMID: 18494404
  14. Sabek O, Driscoll C, Gaber L, Kotb M, Gaber O. Correlation of genetic markers of rejection with biopsy findings following human pancreas transplant. Clin Transplant. 2006 Jan-Feb;20(1):106-12. PMID: 16556164
  15. Cashion AK, Hathaway DK, Milstead EJ, Reed L, Gaber AO. Changes in patterns of 24-hr heart rate variability after kidney and kidney-pancreas transplant. Transplantation. 1999 Dec 27;68(12):1846-50. PMID: 10628762 

   For Dr. Cashion's full bibliography, please visit PubMed.

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