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Debra H. Brandon
Tel: (919) 681-3813
Office: 3145 Pearson Building
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Debra H. Brandon, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN

Associate Professor in the School of Nursing

  • Brief Bio

    Debra Brandon, Associate Professo joined the faculty of the Duke University School of Nursing in 1999. She has practiced as a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Intensive Care Nursery of Duke University Medical Center since 1994. She has extensive clinical experience in neonatology, pediatrics, and child development. She received her BSN and MSN from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and earned her PhD in Nursing at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2000.

    Before joining the Duke faculty, Dr. Brandon was a pediatric clinical nurse specialist at the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY, and a developmental clinical nurse specialist at the Center for Development and Learning in Chapel Hill, NC. She was also on the faculty in the nursing and medical schools of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Brandon is an active member of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) and the International Society for Infant Studies ISIS), and is a co-editor for the journal Advances in Neonatal Care. Her research interests include the effects of the intensive care environment on the growth and development of pre-term infants.

    Academic Program Affiliations

    PhD in Nursing Program
    Master of Science in Nursing Program
    Doctor of Nursing Practice Program


    PhDUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    MSNUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    BSNUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Professional Certifications

    CCNSAcute/Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, Neonatal
    Six SigmaSix Sigma Green Belt
    NBCNeonatal Bereavement Counselor
    BLSBasic Life Support
    NRIAAP-NRP Neonatal Resuscitation Instructor

    Research Interests

    Dr. Brandon’s research focuses on the health and development of high-risk infants and young children with an overall goal of improving the short- and long-term outcomes of high-risk preterm infants and their families. Dr. Brandon has conducted two longitudinal studies with preterm infants (F-31 NR07180; R01 NR008044), which compared the effects of day-night cycling of light to continuous near darkness in preterm infants using a randomized longitudinal design. These studies have evaluated the effects of early and late cycled light on short- and long-term health and developmental outcomes including sleep-wake state development, weight gain, lung maturation, length of hospitalization, auditory and visual development, and neurodevelopmental outcomes (NR008044).

    Dr. Brandon was also co-investigator on an RO1 evaluating the relationship between preterm infant sleep and their long-term outcomes (R29 NR01894, D. Holditch-Davis, PI). These studies have led to her expertise in infant sleep and the development of a new instrumented measure of sleep-wake assessment. Most recently Dr. Brandon completed two pilot studies evaluating palliative and end-of-life care for infants and children with life-threatening conditions, and is now engaged in research examining decision-making for infants with complex life-threatening conditions (R01 1R01NR010548-01A1, S. Docherty, PI, Brandon Co-PI). These decisions include whether to initiate treatment, how to alter the treatment to respond to a medical crisis, whether to shift from aggressive curative care to symptom-focused palliative care, and whether to withdraw treatment.

    Clinical Interests

    Dr. Brandon practices two days per week as a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Intensive Care Nursery at Duke University Medical Center.