Staja “Star” Booker, PhD, RN

Dr. Staja Booker is a Nurse Researcher and a post-doctoral fellow in pain and aging (T32-AG049673, PI: R. Fillingim) at the University of Florida in the College of Dentistry. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, magna cum laude, from GSU in 2010. Since that time, Star has worked in the areas of research, long-term care, and geriatrics, having earned her MS (Adult/Gero Nursing) degree from Penn State University and PhD (Nursing/Aging) from the University of Iowa. She is a former National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence Patricia G. Archbold Scholar.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Fillingim, Dr. Booker’s research explores culturally-grounded self-management interventions for aging African Americans with osteoarthritis pain, with an emphasis on behavior change. As part of her training, she is involved with the UPLOAD-II study which investigates biopsychosocial contributions to ethnic differences in osteoarthritis related pain and disability. By working with this project, she gains experience with quantitative sensory testing, brain imaging, and inflammatory biomarkers.

Dr. Booker has been working tirelessly to improve the care of African Americans with pain. She approaches her research from two angles, first assisting nurses in performing culturally-responsive pain assessment and secondly by improving African Americans’ ability to self-manage their pain. Significant contributions include developing the first nursing clinical practice recommendations and a model for pain assessment and pain measurement in older African Americans. In 2011, Dr. Booker was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau International, the Honor Society of Nursing. Several years later, in 2015, she was recognized by Sigma Theta Tau as a “Rising Star of Scholarship and Research”. An exceptionally engaged author, she has contributed over 20 peer-reviewed articles to a growing body of evidence on pain management in ethnically diverse older adults.