PHOTO: Clifton Thornton

Clifton Thornton

Clifton Thornton, MSN, BS, RN, CPNP is the proud recipient of the first Rita Reis Wieczorek Maternal-Infant & Pediatric Nursing Scholarship. He is currently a 3rd year PhD Candidate at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, a NIH NCATS predoctoral fellow, and pediatric hematology/oncology nurse practitioner at the Herman & Walter Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai of Baltimore. 

Clifton received his undergraduate degrees in Nuclear Medicine Technology and Biology at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. He then completed his nuclear medicine internship at the University of Michigan Hospital where he discovered his passion for working with young persons with cancer. In order to have a more involved role in the care of these individuals, Clifton enrolled in the BSN/MSN program at Johns Hopkins University graduating with his Bachelors in Nursing in 2013 and his Masters in Nursing as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in 2014. Clifton has since then spent his career to working in pediatric oncology at Banner/MD Anderson in Arizona and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Maryland and is currently at the Children’s Hospital at Sinai of Baltimore. Clifton is active within the Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing and the Children’s Oncology Group as a member of the Evidence-Based Practice Board, Nursing Scholars Committee, and Young Investigators program. 

In his oncology practice, Clifton noted a scarcity of research addressing the side effects, toxicities, and impacts of cancer therapy in children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer. He saw how a cancer diagnosis and its associated therapy can impact quality of life for young patients and sought enrollment in the PhD program at Johns Hopkins to better understand how to support these individuals during therapy. Clifton’s work focuses on understanding how biological and psychosocial factors influence toxicities from chemotherapy in young populations. By improving this understanding, nurses can develop evidence-based interventions to prevent, mitigate, or eliminate chemotherapy-induced toxicities in young persons with cancer. Since nurses are charged with the responsibility to deliver care to treat the impacts of cancer therapy, Clifton believes that they should be equipped with approaches that are rooted in scientific evidence. His work aims to inform supportive care practices for nurses. 

Clifton’s long-term career goals are to develop a broader understanding of the biobehavioral influences of chemotherapy toxicities in children, improve the understanding of how cancer impacts quality of life, and develop interventions to reduce these burdens from therapy. Ultimately, this work will improve the quality of life of young persons with cancer and lead to higher cancer survivorship. Clifton plans to pursue a career as a clinician scientist at an academic institution so that he can continue to contribute to the body of science that drives nursing care and teach or mentor students and future nurse scientists. 


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