Mary Jo Pugh, PhD, RN


Lab Website


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Academic Information

  • Departments: Internal Medicine - Professor
  • Divisions: Epidemiology

Academic Bio

Mary Jo Pugh Ph.D., R.N., is a retired Air Force nurse and Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine. She is an investigator at the Informatics, Decision-Enhancement and Analytic Sciences Center of Innovation (IDEAS COIN) and the VA Salt Lake City where she leads the COIN focus area that aims to identify and mitigate health risks in Veterans across periods of vulnerability.

Integrating her training as a Veteran, a nurse and a developmental psychologist, she has developed an epidemiological research program to examine the long-term sequelae and outcomes of military exposures. Early in her career she focused on outcomes associated with suboptimal quality of care in older Veterans. Over the past decade she has targeted her work using VA data to identify phenotypes in populations with complex comorbidity such as those with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and complex multi-symptom illness in Gulf War era Veterans. Dr. Pugh’s current work related to TBI includes longitudinal observational and prospective studies to identify the emergence of distinct neurodegenerative conditions such as cognitive impairment and epilepsy, and clusters of multimorbidity that may have similar or networked biological underpinnings. Her longitudinal observational studies of approximately 1.8 million Veterans currently link Department of Defense (DoD) combat theatre and health system data with VA health system data, and will further link with DoD serum repository data. These studies aim to understand which individuals are at highest risk of neurodegeneration, mental health conditions, and deficits in functional outcomes after mild TBI. They also investigate the possibility of using personalized medicine to address treatment choices. The next steps of this line of inquiry will use deep learning models to identify optimal treatment pathways for specific phenotypes to inform treatment guidelines for mild TBI in the context of multimorbidity.

Dr. Pugh is the author or co-author of over one hundred and sixty peer reviewed publications and book chapters, and numerous presentations at national and international scientific meetings. Her work is funded by VA Health Services Research and Development in addition to VA Rehabilitation Research and Development, the Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health. She regularly serves as a reviewer for national funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense and VA, where she serves on a HSR&D merit review panel. She also serves as a peer reviewer for scientific publications submitted to prominent scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Neurology, Medical Care, Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, Brain Injury, Epilepsia, Epilepsy and Behavior and many others.

Dr. Pugh received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Nursing from the College of Saint Scholastica after which she entered the Air Force. Upon her medical retirement she earned a masters degree in Education from Boston University and masters and doctoral degrees in Psychology at the Catholic University of America.

Education History

Type School Degree
Postdoctoral Fellowship Center for Health Quality, Outcomes & Economic Research/Boston University School of Public Health
Health Services Research
Postdoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training The Catholic University of America
Graduate Training The Catholic University of America
Graduate Training Boston University
Counseling Psychology
Undergraduate University of Central Florida
Undergraduate The College of St. Scholastica

Global Impact


Date Role Description Country
09/30/2018 Guest Lecturer Presented lecture on post-traumatic epilepsy via webinar to US and international Military and Veteran caregivers. Caregivers reported significantly increased knowledge in understanding of post-traumatic epilepsy, treatment for post-traumatic epilepsy, and quality of care for epilepsy. Europe

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Bouldin ED, Swan AA, Norman RS, Tate DF, Tumminello C, Amuan ME, Eapen BC, Wang CP, Trevino A, Pugh MJ (2020). Health Phenotypes and Neurobehavioral Symptom Severity Among Post-9/11 Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: A Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium Study. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 36(1), 10-19.
  2. Valera EM, Joseph AC, Snedaker K, Breiding MJ, Robertson CL, Colantonio A, Levin H, Pugh MJ, Yurgelun-Todd D, Mannix R, Bazarian JJ, Turtzo LC, Turkstra LS, Begg L, Cummings DM, Bellgowan PSF (2020). Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury in Females: A State-of-the-Art Summary and Future Directions. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 36(1), E1-E17.
  3. Lehinger E, Reed DE, Nabity P, Brackins N, Villarreal R, McGeary C, Blount T, Cobos B, Jaramillo C, Eapen BC, Pugh MJ, Potter J, Peterson A, Young-McCaughan S, Houle T, McGeary DD (2020). An Examination of Chronic Pain Indices and the Updated Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental-Disorders-Fifth Edition. (Epub ahead of print) Mil Med.
  4. Brown-Taylor L, Jaramillo C, Eapen BC, Kretzmer T, Gavin LP, Cooper T, Pugh MJ (2020). Accumulation of good intentions: how individual practice guidelines lead to polypharmacy in the treatment of patients with polytrauma. (Epub ahead of print) PM R.
  5. Weiner DK, Holloway K, Levin E, Keyserling H, Epstein F, Monaco E, Sembrano J, Brega K, Nortman S, Krein SL, Gentili A, Katz JN, Morrow LA, Muluk V, Pugh MJ, Perera S (2020). Identifying biopsychosocial factors that impact decompressive laminectomy outcomes in veterans with lumbar spinal stenosis: a prospective cohort study. (Epub ahead of print) Pain.
  6. Haney LJ, Pugh MJV, Copeland LA, Wang CP, MacCarthy DJ, Amuan ME, Shireman PK (2020). Persistent Pain, Physical Dysfunction, and Decreased Quality of Life After Combat Extremity Vascular Trauma. (Epub ahead of print) Ann Vasc Surg.
  7. Mansi IA, English JL, Alvarez CA, Mortensen EM, Pugh MJ (2020). Statins in survivors of traumatic brain injury: a propensity score-matched analysis. Brain Inj, 34(10), 1367-1374.
  8. Marceaux JC, Soble JR, ORourke JJF, Swan AA, Wells M, Amuan M, Sagiraju HKR, Eapen BC, Pugh MJ (2019). Validity of early-onset dementia diagnoses in VA electronic medical record administrative data. Clin Neuropsychol, 34(6), 1175-1189.
  9. Faruqui SHA, Alaeddini A, Chang MC, Shirinkam S, Jaramillo C, NajafiRad P, Wang J, Pugh MJ (2020). Summarizing Complex Graphical Models of Multiple Chronic Conditions Using the Second Eigenvalue of Graph Laplacian: Algorithm Development and Validation. JMIR Med Inform, 8(6), e16372.
  10. Swan AA, Nelson JT, Pogoda TK, Akin FW, Riska KM, Hall CD, Amuan ME, Yaffe K, Pugh MJ, Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium (2019). Association of Traumatic Brain Injury With Vestibular Dysfunction and Dizziness in Post-9/11 Veterans. J Head Trauma Rehabil, 35(3), E253-E265.
  11. Reyes-Miranda A, Chan S, Gowda S, Kean J, Cramer JA, Pugh MJ (2020). Assessing the personal impact of epilepsy in a population-based cohort of Veterans. Epilepsy Behav, 106, 107047.
  12. Kumar RG, Kesinger MR, Juengst SB, Brooks MM, Fabio A, Dams-OConnor K, Pugh MJ, Sperry JL, Wagner AK (2019). Effects of hospital-acquired pneumonia on long-term recovery and hospital resource utilization following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. J Trauma Acute Care Surg, 88(4), 491-500.
  13. Sagiraju HKR, ivkovi S, VanCott AC, Patwa H, Gimeno Ruiz de Porras D, Amuan ME, Pugh MJV (2019). Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Among Veterans Deployed in Support of Post-9/11 U.S. Conflicts. Mil Med, 185(3-4), e501-e509.
  14. Correa DJ, Milano L, Kwon CS, Jett N, Dlugos D, Harte-Hargrove L, Pugh MJ, Smith JK, Mosh SL (2020). Quantitative readability analysis of websites providing information on traumatic brain injury and epilepsy: A need for clear communication. Epilepsia, 61(3), 528-538.
  15. Song K, Wang CP, McGeary DD, Jaramillo CA, Eapen BC, Amuan M, McGeary CA, Potter JS, Pugh MJ (2020). Five-year Pain Intensity and Treatment Trajectories of Post-9/11 Veterans With Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. J Pain, 21(9-10), 1005-1017.
  16. McGeary C, Nabity P, Reed D, Cobos B, Eapen B, Pugh MJ, Jaramillo C, Potter J, Houle T, Young-McCaughan S, Peterson A, McGeary D (2020). A test of the fear avoidance model to predict chronic pain outcomes in a polytrauma sample. NeuroRehabilitation, 47(1), 35-43.
  17. Altalib HH, Galluzzo D, Argraves S, Goulet J, Bornovski Y, Cheung KH, Jackson-Shaheed E, Tolchin B, Fenton BT, Pugh MJ (2019). Managing Functional Neurological Disorders: Protocol of a Cohort Study on Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures Study. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 15, 3557-3568.
  18. Pugh MJ, Swan AA, Amuan ME, Eapen BC, Jaramillo CA, Delgado R, Tate DF, Yaffe K, Wang CP (2019). Deployment, suicide, and overdose among comorbidity phenotypes following mild traumatic brain injury: A retrospective cohort study from the Chronic Effects of Neurotrauma Consortium. PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0222674.
  19. Altalib HH, Lanham HJ, McMillan KK, Habeeb M, Fenton B, Cheung KH, Pugh MJ (2019). Measuring coordination of epilepsy care: A mixed methods evaluation of social network analysis versus relational coordination. Epilepsy Behav, 97, 197-205.
  20. Alaeddini A, Jaramillo CA, Faruqui SHA, Pugh MJ (2018). Mining Major Transitions of Chronic Conditions in Patients with Multiple Chronic Conditions. Methods Inf Med, 56(5), 391-400.
  21. Pugh MJ, Marcum ZA, Copeland LA, Mortensen EM, Zeber JE, Nol PH, Berlowitz DR, Downs JR, Good CB, Alvarez C, Amuan ME, Hanlon JT (2013). The quality of quality measures: HEDIS® quality measures for medication management in the elderly and outcomes associated with new exposure. Drugs Aging, 30(8), 645-54.
  22. Zeber JE, Noel PH, Pugh MJ, Copeland LA, Parchman ML (2012). Family perceptions of post-deployment healthcare needs of Iraq/Afghanistan military personnel. Ment Health Fam Med, 7(3), 135-43.


  1. Dang S, Penney LS, Trivedi R, Noel PH, Pugh MJ, Finley E, Pugh JA, Van Houtven CH, Leykum L (2020). Caring for Caregivers During COVID-19. [Letter to the editor]. J Am Geriatr Soc, 68(10), 2197-2201.