Jonas IV Veterans Healthcare Scholar Alumni

Valerie Dernetz

University of Maryland

As a military dependent for 23 years, daughter and sister to Air Force veterans, and sister-in-law to an active duty Marine, I have been exposed to the unique challenges and experiences confronted by those who have chosen to serve our country that may put them at risk for developing chronic pain. And, as the number of women in the military continues to increase, research investigating the mechanisms of chronic pain in these women is imperative as their needs may differ from the general female population. As a first step in achieving these goals, I will be investigating the neurophysiological underpinnings of chronic urogenital pain in women as part of my dissertation study. Although not exclusive to female veterans, this study will provide me with the necessary training to conduct a comprehensive neurosensory evaluation of different chronic pain phenotypes. Throughout my doctoral education, I have been and will continue to participate in research, coursework, and seminars in order to broaden the breadth and depth of my knowledge about molecular biology, human genetics, and neuroscience as they relate to pain. These educational experiences in conjunction with my previous and current research and clinical experiences in nursing and psychology have provided me with a variety of research skills in bench, translational, clinical, and social science research. Ultimately, I plan to utilize these experiences to develop a program of research focusing on my own research agenda in providing mechanistic insight into the chronic pain experienced by female military and military veterans.