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Karen Melilo

Karen Melillo
Dr. Karen Devereaux MelilloProfessor; Interim Dean of the School of Nursing; Director of Center for Gerontology Research & Partnerships

Research Interests

Her major research focus is on gerontological and geropsychiatric nursing, with an emphasis on the role of the nurse practitioner in caring for older adults in primary care and long-term care settings. Health promotion of older adults, specifically physical activity and exercise, is also an area of research interest. Innovative models of clinical and interprofessional education at the baccalaureate and MS NP levels, with an emphasis on infusing gerontological nursing, have been areas of funding and evaluation research. Nursing workforce development focusing on bringing diversity to nursing with recruitment, retention, and graduation of educationally and economically disadvantaged students, as well as those underrepresented in nursing, has been an area of funding for nearly ten years.

She earned her Ph.D. from Brandeis University’s Florence Heller School for the Advanced Study of Social Welfare in 1990, where her studies focused on aging, long-term care and health policy. She received her Master of Science Degree in Gerontological Nursing from the University of Lowell in 1978, which prepared her as a Gerontological Nurse Practitioner. In 1998, she was awarded the Francis Cabot Lowell Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Health Professions at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. In 2009, she was selected as a Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America. She was also selected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and for the Distinguished Alumni Award from Massachusetts Bay Community College, both in 2001. Since coming to the University in 1982, she has established an active research program on the utilization of Nurse Practitioners in institutional long-term care, for which she received the American College of Health Care Administrators Long-Term Care Research Award. Her research has focused on health promotion, specifically physical fitness and exercise activity of older adults, as well as the application of a wandering technology device for older adults with Alzheimer’s disease. She was Principal Investigator on a funded grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing, Nursing Workforce Diversity (D19HP009221, 2012-2016; D19HP08221, 2008-2012) and from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities: Workforce Development grant (2007-2014), for the Bring Diversity to Nursing project, totaling over $2M. She was also Principal Investigator on a Mass. Department of Higher Education Nursing and Allied Health Grant, “Increasing Nurse Practitioner Preceptor and Faculty Capacity”, 2014-2015, and Co-Investigator on a Mass. Department of Higher Education Nursing and Allied Health Grant, “Collaborative Post-Baccalaureate Nurse Residency Program – UMass Lowell School of Nursing, Lowell General Hospital, and Genesis Healthcare”, 2015-2016. She served as Co-Investigator on a HRSA-funded Advanced Education in Nursing grant, “DNPs Caring for Underserved”, with Co-Principal Investigators, Susan Houde, Ph.D. and Angela Nannini, Ph.D., (D09HP19005-01, 2010-2013), in the amount of $732,044. She was a Co-Investigator with Jacqueline Dowling, Ph.D., PI, on a HRSA Workforce Diversity Equipment Grant, 2010-2011, “On the move for nursing’s future: Bring diversity to nursing mobile simulation laboratory”, $299,980. She was a Co-Investigator on a 5-year, $3.5M National Institutes of Health, NIOSH-funded study on “Health Disparities Among Healthcare Workers,” where she led the qualitative case study research effort in two nursing homes. She was Principal Investigator on the Mass. Department of Higher Education’s Nursing and Allied Health Initiative grant, “UMass Lowell/D’Youville Partnership in Establishing Dedicated Education Unit in a LTC Transitional Care Setting” (2011-2012). Dr. Melillo has over 60 peer-reviewed publications. The second edition of Melillo, K.D. & Houde, S.C. (Eds.) Geropsychiatric and Mental Health Nursing (2011) received the 2011 AJN Book of the Year Award, placing first in two categories, mental health and gerontologic nursing. She is a manuscript reviewer for a number of journals, including Geriatric Nursing, and is an Editorial Advisory Board member for the Journal of Gerontological Nursing. Nationally, she was an Objective Review Committee member for the HRSA-16-071 Advanced Education Nursing Traineeship (AENT) Program, and she has served as an Expert Panel member on the American Academy of Nursing/Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing, Geropsychiatric Nursing Core Competency Workgroup and on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing/Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing’s, Transitioning to Adult-Gerontology APRN Education: Ensuring the APRN Workforce is Prepared to Care for Older Adults, NP Expert Panel. She is active in a number of national professional associations and state task forces, and has served on local Boards, including D’Youville Life and Wellness Community. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Senior Care Foundation. She was recognized with the 2015 Excellence in Community Service Award by the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association. She is Past-President of the Eta Omega Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International. Melillo is nationally board-certified as an Adult-Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Link to Publications:


  • Ph D: Social Policy, with focus on aging, long-term care, and health care, (1990), Brandeis University - Waltham, MA
    Dissertation/Thesis Title: "Evaluation of Nursing Process and Outcomes of Care Utilizing Nurse Practitioners to Provide Health Care for Elderly Patients in Massachusetts Nursing Homes"
  • MS: Gerontological Nursing, (1978), University of Massachusetts Lowell - Lowell, MA
  • BS: Nursing, (1977), Salem State College - Salem MA
  • Other: Nursing, (1973), Massachusetts Bay Community College - Watertown, MA


Karen Devereaux Melillo, Ph.D., A-GNP-C, FAANP, FGSA, is the Interim Dean and Professor, Solomont School of Nursing, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell. She is the Director of the Center for Gerontology Research and Partnerships. Her prior leadership roles include serving as Director and Chair of the School of Nursing (2013-2014), Chair (2005-2013), and Coordinator of the Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Specialty (2013-2014) and Coordinator of the Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Specialty (1985-2005).

Awards and Honors

  • Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner Certification, AANP-CP (2015-2020) (2015)
  • AJN Book of the Year Award (2011), Service, Professional - American Journal of Nursing
  • Selected for National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, Women's Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner Competencies Work Group (2011) - representing the Geropsychiatric Mental Health Nursing Work Group of the American Academy of Nursing (2011-2013)
  • Fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (2001 to present) (2009)
  • Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (2009), Scholarship/Research
  • Appointed to American Academy of Nursing/Health Institute for Geriatric Nursing (2008) - Geropsychiatric Nursing Core Competency Workgroup, Member (2008-2010)
  • NP Expert Panel Member for the national project, Transitioning to Adult-Gerontology APRN Education: Ensuring the APRN Workforce is Prepared to Care for Older Adults (2008) - funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation to the American Association of colleges of Nursing and the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University (2008-2010)
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Elected to Nominating Committee (2007-2008) (2007)
  • Editorial Advisory Board Member (2006) - Journal of Gerontological Nursing (2004 to present)
  • Listed as one of 15 Geriatric Nurse Leaders Today, in Ebersole. (2006), Service, Professional - Geriatric Nursing: Growth of a Specialty, New York: Springer Publishers
  • Fellow (2001) - American Academy of Nurse Practitioners


  • Melillo, K.D. (2017) "Geropsychiatric Nursing: What's in Your Toolkit?," Journal of Gerontological Nursing 43:1 pp. 3-6
  • Lee, A.J., Gautam, R., Melillo, K.D., Abdallah, L., Remington, R. (Framingham State University), VanEtten, D. (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Gore, R. (2016) "An MCBS-based investigation of alternative primary care models in nursing homes: Cost and utilization differences," Research in Gerontological Nursing 9:3 pp. 115-122


  • An MCBS-Based Investigation of Alternative Primary Care Models in Nursing Homes: Cost and Utilization Differences - 68th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, November 2015 - Orlando, FL
  • A nursing school’s journey through cultural awareness, inclusivity, and civility - Hot Topics Conference – Civility Rising: Re-envisioning, re-creating, and Thriving in Academia and Practice, April 2015 - Las Vegas, NV

Contracts, Fellowships, Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Co-Investigator: Advanced Education Nursing Grant, UMass Lowell DNP (2010), Grant - U.S. Bureau of Health Professions, Division of Nursing, Health Resources and Services Administration
  • Bring Diversity to Nursing -- Educational Opportunities for Minority Students, (2010), Grant - Massachusetts Department of Public Health
    Melillo, K.D. (Principal)
  • Bring Diversity to Nursing BDN - Educational Opportunities (2009), Contract -
    Melillo, K.D. (Principal)
  • PI: Spanish Translation and Pilot Testing of the Physical Fitness and Exercise Activity of Older Adults Scale (1998), Grant - Eta Omega Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International

Research Currently in Progress

  • Bring Diversity to Nursing: Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Nursing Students
    Melillo, K.D., Dowling, J., Abdallah, L.M., Knight, M., Simons, S.R.
  • Collaborative Post-Graduate Nurse Residency, in Partnerships with Lowell General Hospital and Genesis Healthcare

    Funded by the Mass. Department of Higher Education, Nursing and Allied Health Initiative, 2015-2016; Margaret Laccetti, Principal Investigator, with Drs. Lori Keough an Karen Devereaux Melillo (Co-Investigators).
    Melillo, K.D., Laccetti, M., Keough, L.A.