School of Nursing

Denfeld Lab

OHSU School of Nursing faculty member Quin Denfeld stands in front of windows with her four lab staff members

Our lab focuses on the integration of biological and behavioral (a.k.a. biobehavioral) markers to improve patient-reported outcomes for adults living with heart failure specifically and those living with cardiovascular disease more broadly. We are currently pursuing two angles: physical frailty and symptoms among adults with heart failure (including mechanisms, outcomes, and sex/gender differences therein). Our research is primarily funded by the National Institutes of Health along with other foundations. Check out our team, on-going projects, publications, and more below!

A smiling headshot of Quin Denfeld, of Denfeld Lab

Quin Denfeld, Ph.D., RN, FAHA
Principal Investigator

A lifelong Oregonian, I graduated from Hillsboro High School (proud Spartan!) followed by Linfield College, where I majored in nursing and minored in biology. I worked as a critical care nurse in the Cardiac and Surgical Intensive Care Unit at OHSU, where I developed the “research bug,” and thus, I decided to pursue a Ph.D. I trained with Dr. Christopher Lee at OHSU School of Nursing for my Ph.D. studies, graduating in 2016. I completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at OHSU School of Medicine, training with Dr. Beth Habecker. I came back to the School of Nursing for a faculty position, where I now focus on research, teaching in the Ph.D. program, and providing service to multiple professional organizations such as the American Heart Association and the Heart Failure Society of America. I am also an Associate Editor for the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing and an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Cardiac Failure. At home, I’m surrounded by my husband, three boys, a dog, and acres of hazelnut and walnut trees, where I attempt to carve out time for my hobbies: running, reading, travel, and enjoying wine and beer. 


Shirin Hiatt, MPH, MS, RN

Shirin Hiatt, MPH, MS, RN (she, her)
Senior Research Associate/Research Projects Manager

I am a senior research associate at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Nursing. I have worked at OHSU School of Nursing for over 25 years as a researcher and instructor. I have extensive research management experience and have overseen numerous federally funded studies across various chronic illnesses including cancer, dementia, heart failure and liver disease throughout my career.

I have lived in Oregon since 1985. I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of Oregon. Later, I completed my bachelor’s degree in nursing at OHSU, followed by dual master’s degrees in nursing and public health, specializing in epidemiology and biostatistics. Currently, I am a PhD student at University of Utah College of Nursing as well as pursuing a graduate certificate in gerontology through the Gerontology Interdisciplinary Program. My research interests are in family caregiving and dyadic research across the adult life span, specifically around dyadic appraisal of priorities and self-management in complex care needs of patients with multimorbidity and their informal/family caregivers. I am particularly interested in patient-caregiver congruence on priorities of care and how that relates to self-management of multimorbidity complex care and affects dyads’ wellbeing.

When not working, I study! I also love spending time with my family, reading for fun, watching movies, cooking, and traveling when I can.

A smiling headshot of Mary Roberts Davis, of Denfeld Lab

Mary Roberts Davis, BSN, RN, Ph.D. Candidate
Research Assistant/Graduate Student

I am a nurse finishing up my Ph.D. in Nursing, focusing on cardiovascular disease and associations with reproductive history in women. As a Native Oregonian, I have lived in Astoria, Eugene, and Portland. I graduated from the University of Portland and worked as a critical care nurse until I pursued a Ph.D. in 2018. I have been working with Dr. Denfeld’s lab since then - and I love interacting with research participants and learning about living with a diagnosis of heart failure. I am an active member of the American Association of Heart Failure Nursing, the Heart Failure Society of America, and the American Heart Association. When not working, I enjoy time at home with my family and friends. I love backpacking and spending time at the beach or in the mountains.

A professional headshot of Yasmine Robles, of Denfeld Lab

Yasmine Robles, BA
Research Assistant

I graduated from Western Oregon University in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Human Biology. I am most passionate about psychology and neuroscience and am interested in pursuing a career in neuroscience to become a neuroscientist. I am a Research Assistant in the Denfeld Lab and a Clinical Research Associate (CRA) at the Northwest Psychometric Research Institute (NPRI) in Portland, Oregon, where I can work with Clinical and Forensic Psychologist Dr. Robert B. Basham. As a CRA at NPRI, I have the opportunity to study childhood psychological trauma and how it affects future parenting skills among adults with parental difficulties. In the Denfeld lab, I am most responsible for collecting data, which includes visiting current study participants at the OHSU hospital and OHSU Beaverton Primary Care Clinic. As an RA and CRA, it has been a pleasure working with a wonderful team of researchers to establish greater changes in health care research. When not in the lab, I enjoy reading, visiting Oregon’s beautiful beaches, traveling among Mexico’s coastlines, and dancing to any rhythm that warms my soul.

A smiling headshot of Debora Burger, of Denfeld Lab

Debora Burger, MSN, RN, Ph.D. Student
Pediatric Cardiology RN/Graduate Student

I currently work at Doernbecher Pediatric Cardiology in the ambulatory care clinic. I work primarily with patients who are transitioning from pediatric care to adult specialized lifelong cardiac care, as well as with pediatric patients who suffer from heart failure. I am in the Ph.D. program at OHSU School of Nursing. My research interests include the transition and transfer period when patients with congenital heart defects are making the move to adult specialized care, as this is a vulnerable time for these patients and about half are at risk of not successfully transferring. I was born and raised in South Africa, and I completed my nursing training at the University of Cape Town. Dr. Denfeld is my dissertation chair and I have been a lab team member since January 2022. It has been a pleasure working with such a dedicated group of individuals who are in the process of building their careers and research interests. When not working or studying, I enjoy spending time and traveling with my family.

A smiling headshot of Nina Stutsman, of Denfeld Lab

Nina (Vashti) Stutsman, BS

I am a nursing student in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science program at OHSU. I have a BS in Molecular Biology and studied non-small cell lung cancer at St. Joseph’s Hospital before joining OHSU. I began working in Dr. Denfeld's lab after joining the School of Nursing Undergraduate Summer Research Engagement Program. My research interests lie in improving patient outcomes in cardiovascular disease. In addition, I am All Hill Student Council Vice President and serve on the Covington Oversight Committee and the Committee on Academic Policy. I am also a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the Preventative Cardiovascular Nurses Association. My senior Integrated Practicum is in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at OHSU where I have accepted a new graduate nursing position.

Lab assistant Tyler Ramos smiles at the camera while standing in front of a green tree

Tyler Ramos
Research Assistant

I was born and raised in the Rockies, growing up in both Pueblo and Fort Collins, Colorado. I moved to Eugene, Oregon, in 2019 to attend the University of Oregon, from which I graduated in 2023 with a degree in human physiology and minors in creative writing and chemistry. Through undergrad, I worked as a research assistant in Professor Chris Doe's lab, studying the molecular programs responsible for neuronal fate determination in Drosophila. I have been a Research Assistant in the Denfeld Lab since late summer 2023. I recruit patients into our active studies and collect data from those enrolled to further our understanding of heart failure symptomology. It has been an honor and a joy to learn from and alongside a dedicated group of researchers whose focus is to further science and improve patient outcomes. When not in the lab, I divide my time between rock climbing, reading and writing poetry, and preparing to apply to medical school, where I hope to pursue a career in both healthcare and research. 


Biological and Physiological Mechanisms of Symptom Clusters in Heart Failure (BIOMES-HF)
Funding: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Nursing Research (R01NR019054; PI: Denfeld; Dates: 4/23/21-1/31-25)
NIH Reporter

The purpose of this study is to 1) identify clusters of change in symptoms after a heart failure hospitalization and 2) quantify longitudinal associations between symptoms, biomarkers, and physical frailty.

We are currently enrolling for this study:

Key Publications:

  • Denfeld, Q.E., Camacho, S.A., Dieckmann, N., Hiatt, S.O., Davis, M.R., Cramer, D.V., Rupert, A., Habecker, B.A., & Lee, C.S. (2022) Background and design of the Biological and Physiological Mechanisms of Symptom Clusters in Heart Failure (BIOMES-HF) study. J Card Fail (in press) PMID: 35045322


Applying Proteomics to Identify Biomarkers and Profiles of Physical Frailty in Heart Failure (PRO-FRAIL-HF)
Funding: Medical Research Foundation (PI: Denfeld; Dates: 8/1/20-7/31/22)

The purpose of this study is to identify biomarkers and biobehavioral profiles of physical frailty in heart failure.

We are collaborating with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to complete this work.


Gender-Associated Differences in Physical Frailty Phenotypes in Heart Failure (GAP-FRAIL-HF)
Funding: National Institutes of Health/Office of Research in Women’s Health (K12HD043488; PI: Denfeld; Dates: 10/1/17-9/30/20)

This study aimed to elucidate gender differences in physical frailty in heart failure as a function of biological and physiological mechanisms and in terms of clinical and patient-reported outcomes.

Key Findings:

  • Women are more physically frail compared with men in heart failure
  • Physical frailty in both women and men is characterized by comorbidities and worse symptoms
  • Physical frailty in men is characterized by worse physiological characteristics

Key Publications:

  • Denfeld, Q.E., Goodlin, S., Abedalweli, R., Roberts Davis, M., Hiatt, S.O., Lee, C.S., & Winters-Stone, K. (2022) Frequency and predictors of falls among adults with heart failure: A prospective study. J Card Fail (in press).
  • Denfeld, Q.E., Purnell, J.Q., Lee, C.S., Orwoll, E.S., Camacho, S.A., Roberts Davis, M., Hiatt, S.O., Winters-Stone, K., Woodward, W.R., & Habecker, B.A. (2022) Candidate biomarkers of physical frailty in heart failure: An exploratory cross-sectional study Eur J Cardiovasc Nurs (in press).
  • Denfeld, Q.E., Habecker, B.A., Camacho, S.A., Davis, M.R., Gupta, N., Hiatt, S.O., Medysky, M., Purnell, J.Q., Winters-Stone, K., & Lee, C.S. (2021) Characterizing sex differences in physical frailty phenotypes in heart failure. Circ: Heart Fail, 14(9):e008076  PMID: 34428925; PMCID: PMC8458254
  • Denfeld, Q.E., Lee, C.S., & Habecker, B.A. (2022) A primer on incorporating sex as a biological variable into the conduct and reporting of basic and clinical research studies Am J Physiol Heart Circ (in press) PMID: 35050071

Check out Dr. Denfeld’s podcast episode through the American Journal of Physiology-Heart & Circulatory Physiology on incorporating sex as a biological variable into research studies.

3 P’s School of Nursing article

Lab lunch August 2022
Lab lunch August 2022
Research Week 2019
Research Week 2019
Heart Failure Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting 2019
Heart Failure Society of America Annual Scientific Meeting 2019
Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Annual Meeting 2019
Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Annual Meeting 2019