Faculty Sketch

Karen D'Apolito, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, FAAN

Professor & Program Director, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program


Current Research Interests

  • Infant Adaptation
  • Infant Organization
  • Perinatal and Infant Drug Addiction
  • Neonatal Drug Withdrawal
  • Interventions that decrease cerebral blood flow in preterm infants



Co-PI with Peter Martin, MD, Professor of Psychiatry & Pharmacy, Director of the Addiction Center and Addiction Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The title of the grant is: Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research. This was a 5 year grant funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The grant concluded June, 2009.


Dr. D’Apolito has been invited to speak to neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners and staff nurses at many hospitals and conferences within the US and internationally regarding the care of infants with neonatal abstinence and the establishment of inter-observer reliability using the Neonatal Abstinence Scoring Tool.
Tennessee Initiative for Perinatal Quality Care (TIPQC) in the development of a tool kit for the care of an infant with neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

Representative Publications

D'Apolito, K. (2009). Neonatal Opiate Withdrawal: Pharmacologic Management. Newborn & Infant Nursing Reviews 9(1), 62-69.

D'Apolito, K. (2006). State of the Science: Procedural Pain Management in the Neonate. The Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 20(1), 56-61.

D'Apolito, K., & Hepworth, J. (2001). Most Prominent Symptoms of Withdrawal in Drug-Affected Infants. The Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 14(4), 46-60.

D'Apolito, K. (1999). Comparison of a Rocking Bed and Standard Bed for Decreasing Symptoms in Drug-Exposed Infants. MCN, 24(3), 138-144.

D'Apolito, K. (1991). What is an organized infant? Neonatal Network, (1), 23-29.

Guest Editor: Neonatal Section of the Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, April/June 2008

Editorial Board Member: Neonatal Network, Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing, Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.

Professional Organizations

Vice President, Programs, National Perinatal Association, 2009-Present

Chair, SNRS Ethics Committee, 2006-2009

Abstract Reviewer, MNRS, 2005-2007

HRSA Grant Reviewer, 2007-Present

Board Member, Foundation for Neonatal Research and Education, 2009-Present

Honors & Awards     


Fellow, American Academy of Nursing


National Perinatal Association's Individual Contribution to Maternal Child Health Award, that honors an individual who has contributed tirelessly and largely behind the scenes to enhance the maternal child health cause.


Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Excellence in Educational Innovation Award