Sandra Founds

Associate Professor
Coordinator FNP DNP Program
Assistant Director, NM DNP Program
Health Promotion & Development


Dr. Founds is a certified nurse-midwife and family nurse practitioner in current practice. Her research focuses on the genomics of preeclampsia, a disease that contributes to maternal mortality worldwide. Prevention of adverse pregnancy outcomes for mothers and offspring underpins my teaching and science.

Scholarly Emphasis

Discovery of novel candidate genes expressed in the first trimester is highly important because these biomarkers derive from tissues at the time when, according to consensus, preeclampsia begins. Her work is guided by the central hypothesis that prediction will be possible through etiologic markers, with the goals of screening, early detection and patient-specific management of this potentially lethal disorder. Her scholarly contributions include well-cited peer reviewed publications. A seminal paper reporting the 36 novel preeclampsia candidates achieved “Top 10 Cited” in the peer-reviewed journal, Placenta. This paper and a publication that first depicted novel LAIR2 in leading edge invasive trophoblasts was discussed in Benirschke’s Pathology of the Human Placenta, a renowned reference in this field. As PI, she was awarded three internally funded competitive SON grants that provided funding for work that supported molecular studies to validate the candidates. One grant extends innovative phenotype-genotype pilot work. She received external funding from two prestigious organizations. The American Nurses Foundation Grant supported confirmatory studies of our candidate genes. The Preeclampsia Foundation Vision Grant supports preliminary investigations of maternal blood for proteins encoded by these genes. International collaborators recognized the value of this project by donating samples through the Gates Foundation Co-laboratory consortium. She is PI on a NIH R03 grant that proposes localizing all of these candidates in first trimester maternal and placental tissues. Findings have been disseminated in podium and poster sessions at meetings of the International Society for Nurses in Genetics (ISONG), the International Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy, and UWISON. She presented nationally at the sixth Symposium on the Functional Genomics of Critical Illness and Injury at NIH and at the prestigious Society for Gynecologic Investigation. She presents regionally for the Eastern Nurses Research Society (ENRS), and for local venues at the SON and Magee-Womens Research Institute, where she is the only nurse member. She received the 2012 ISONG Founders Award for Research. 


Dr. Founds joined the faculty of the School of Nursing (SON) in 2005 after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship in Research for Vulnerable Women, Children, and Families at the University of Pennsylvania and the NIH/NINR Summer Genetics Institute. her teaching has included clinical courses in maternal-child health. The problem-oriented simulations contributed to the SON’s curricular Simulations Task Force. National presentations and an international workshop stemming from this work led to an invited publication. Her teaching includes a graduate course in women’s health, supervising clinical preceptorships for FNP students, and precepting FNP students and medical residents. She updates her clinician colleagues by cross-referencing current evidence among my practice and teaching settings. Within the SON, she led the development of the Nurse-Midwife Doctor of Nursing Practice major. Dr. Founds is research faculty in the SON’s T32 for Nurses in Genomics. Her presentations at the University of West Indies School of Nursing and Midwifery (UWISON) Conferences taught genetics content to students and faculty from developing countries throughout the Caribbean. She has served on the Global Competency Task Force integrating these objectives throughout the SON curricula.


Dr. Founds actively participates in service within and outside the University. She was invited to serve two terms as a member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing, a journal that informs a wide national and international readership of bedside nurses and Advanced Practice Nurses including Midwives. Her additional contributions included serving as guest editor of a section on Pregnancy and Genomics for this journal. Within professional organizations, Dr. Founds served as elected co-chair of the Research Committee of ISONG, co-chaired the ISONG conference planning committee, and participated in the Global Division of the American College of Nurse Midwives. Within the SON, she was elected co-chair of Faculty and Staff Welfare, served on the BSN Council, Evaluation and Steering Committee, and am serving on the PhD and DNP Councils. Dr. Founds evaluated an international nursing study abroad opportunity in Tanzania for the SON. Within the University, she served two terms in the University’s Faculty Senate Benefits and Welfare Committee.