Featuring: Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH
Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH, the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). NAM is one of three academies that make up the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and strives to improve human health by advancing science, accelerating health equity, and providing trusted advice on a national and global scale.
“To be inducted into NAM reflects not my achievement — this achievement belongs truly to the ‘we’ and not the ‘me’. It took not just the love and support of my family but a true village of community members, organizations, clinicians, professors and countless others. But above all, this honor really goes to my extraordinary team members; I could never have achieved a tenth of my accomplishments without my team,” said Simon, who is also vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.
Fighting for Health Equity
A physician-scientist and activist, Simon’s work aims to promote health equity and eliminate health disparities for underserved communities as well as improve access to preventive care and cancer treatment for low-income women. A primary focus of her work is creating health interventions that reduce and eliminate these disparities through integrating health services research with social epidemiologic models.
“There are few people from backgrounds and places like myself who achieve such an honor, and I pledge to amplify payment of it forward by remaining relentless in my pursuit to eradicate health inequities and to continue on my resolve to open pathways for more diverse persons in healthcare and science,” Simon said.
In 2017, Simon was appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for a four-year term where she provided evidence-based recommendations on clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services and preventive medications for primary care clinicians and their patients.
In 2019, Simon became principal investigator of the Northwestern University Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Training Program (NU-MHRT). The five-year training grant, supported the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, provides health disparities research training to underrepresented students and trainees.
Simon is also the founding director of the Center for Health Equity Transformation, which works to dismantle health disparities for underserved populations in Chicago through community engagement, research, training and education, and co-founder and current director of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative, a partnership between investigators from the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and other Chicago-area universities and community organizations that aims to improve cancer disparities across the city.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simon has continuously leveraged her expertise in health disparities research to advise racial equity COVID-19 response teams led by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“Melissa Simon is a fearless leader whose pioneering research work in health disparities and community engagement transformed the field of obstetrics and gynecology,” said Serdar Bulun, MD, chair and John J. Sciarra Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
This article was originally published in the Feinberg School of Medicine News Center on October 18, 2021 .
Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH is the George H. Gardner, MD, Professor of Clinical Gynecology, the vice chair for research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, director of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Public Health and Medicine (IPHAM), and founding director of the Center for Health Equity Transformation (CHET).
Dr. Simon's primary research interests are aimed at promoting health equity and eliminating health disparities among low income, medically underserved women across the lifespan. Integrating health services research with social epidemiologic models, Dr. Simon's research focuses on interventions (such as patient navigation and community health outreach workers) that aim to reduce and eliminate such disparities.
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