Loretta Sweet Jemmott

Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Loretta Sweet Jemmott is the van Ameringen Professor in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing and Director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at the University of Pennsylvania - School of Nursing.  Most recently, Dr. Jemmott received the Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award. Dr. Jemmott received a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Hampton Institute (Hampton University) in 1978.

She also holds secondary appointments in the University's School of Medicine and Graduate School of Education.  In 2004, Dr. Jemmott was appointed Assistant Provost for Gender and Minority Equity Issues for the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Jemmott has been involved in a number of research projects focusing on designing and testing culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, and theory-based strategies to reduce HIV risk- associated sexual behaviors among African American, South African, and Latino youth and adults.  She, along with her husband, Dr. John B. Jemmott, III, have been funded by the American Foundation for AIDS research (AmFAR), the National Institute of Child Heath and Human Development, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute for Nursing Research, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a total of $92.5 million research dollars to conduct 24 HIV risk-reduction randomized controlled trials in various settings, including schools, community based organizations, housing developments, clinical settings, and churches. 

She is one of the nation’s leaders in HIV risk reduction intervention research having one of the most consistent track records of evidenced-based HIV risk-reduction interventions across various populations.  The outcomes of her research include: a) a reduction in HIV risk-associated sexual behavior; b) a reduction in the frequency of sexual intercourse; c) a reduction in unprotected sexual intercourse; d) a reduction in the number of sexual partners; e) an increase in condom use; f) a decrease in unprotected sex; and g) biological outcomes showing a reduction in the incidence rate of STD at 12-month follow-ups.  These finding were published in high-level journals including, Nursing Research, JAMA, and the American Journal of Public Health.

Dr. Jemmott is a globally recognized translational nurse researcher. Three of her evidenced-based adolescent HIV risk-reduction intervention curricula were selected by CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health Program entitled, "Research to Classrooms, Program That Work!" for dissemination to schools, community based agencies, and clinics nationally and internationally. These curricula have been culturally adapted, tailored and translated into various languages for use in regions where HIV is at pandemic levels, including counties in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. Her interventions for adolescents include videos created by teens winners of her national and international HIV-prevention essay contest titled, “The Hear Me Project”. This project is accomplished in conjunction with the Select Media Inc., and has been featured on MTV (2006) and will be featured on HBO in 2007.

Recently her 20-minute evidenced-based HIV risk-reduction intervention for women (Sister-to-Sister) was selected by the CDC as a national model to be disseminated for use in women health clinics as part of the DEBI Project (Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions). The purpose of DEBI is to bring science based, community-and group-level HIV prevention interventions to community-based service providers and state and local health departments to enhance their capacity to implement effective interventions that reduce the spread of HIV and STDs.

Dr. Jemmott has received many awards for her research and community efforts, including the Congressional Merit Recognition Award, The Red Ribbon Award for outstanding service in the field of HIV/AIDS, and the Governor of New Jersey's Nurse Merit Award in Advanced Nursing Practice. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a member of the CDC's Division of HIV, STD & TB Advisory Council, and a member of the Institute of Medicine. Most recently Dr. Jemmott received the Sigma Theta Tau International Episteme Award and the Distinguished Daughter’s of Pennsylvania (Governor’s Award).