Melissa A. Simon, MD, MPH is the George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology and full tenured professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Preventive Medicine, and Medical Social Sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She serves as the Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Co-Program Leader of Cancer Control and Survivorship at the NU Robert H Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. Her diverse portfolio of research encompasses over $30 million in NIH funded research in health disparities across six institutes with focus on underserved minority populations, epidemiology, minority health, community-engaged research, and health services process improvement. Trained in clinical obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University, Dr. Simon is a graduate of Rush Medical College, and received fellowship training in family medicine and reproductive health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
Dr. Simon is an internationally recognized expert in implementation science, health services research, health equity, community engaged research and science workforce development, and an author on over 215 peer-reviewed publications. Her diverse portfolio of research has improved health across the lifespan in underrepresented populations across Chicago. This research portfolio includes leading complex grants that involve transdisciplinary partnerships and several sectors, institutions, organizations and countries, including community-based organizations, low income and underserved populations, local community hospitals and clinics, minority serving institutions, governmental agencies, and academic medical centers. For example, she founded and directs the NCI U54 Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) which unites 2 minority serving academic institutions with Northwestern’s Lurie Cancer Center and spans 7 schools, 3 institutes, 20 departments and over 50 organizations. Dr. Simon also co-leads the largest Chinese Cohort study (the PINE study) in the U.S., which was initiated in 2011 with funding from NIA, NIMHD and NINR. Successfully leading such diverse groups of people and organizations attests to Dr. Simon’s great facility for forging meaningful and strategic relationships that create visible, high quality health improvements for underserved populations. In addition, Dr. Simon’s international work includes a NCI U54-funded study of epigenomic biomarkers among Nigerian women with cervical cancer and HIV.
As a physician scientist, Dr. Simon is a recognized thought leader in health equity implementation science and participates in various national advisory boards and review committees that have allowed her to help shape the direction of minority and women’s health and community engagement. She was recently appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF) in recognition of her leadership and expertise in preventive services and care. She chairs the Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (DIRH), a NIH standing study section, as well as the Health Equity Committee for the NCI NCORP cancer cooperative trials group ECOG-ACRIN, and she is a member of the NCI NCORP NRG Cancer Prevention and Control Committee. Additionally, Dr. Simon serves on several panels for the National Academy of Medicine including the Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities.
Dr. Simon is a board member of several key health policy shaping entities in Chicago. She helped write legislation for the Illinois Breast Cancer Quality Screening and Treatment Act that led to a funded Illinois law focused on improving breast cancer quality and treatment. Dr. Simon was appointed by the Governor to help lead the implementation of this statewide law. Dr. Simon also had a role in other health policy efforts including the National Elder Justice Act. Thus, Dr. Simon’s work has directly impacted state and federal policies that have improved the health of thousands of low-income individuals.
Dr. Simon has mentored and supervised dozens of students, trainees, fellows and faculty over the last decade, including 48 undergraduate students, 29 graduate trainees, 26 post-doctoral trainees, and seven junior faculty. Her mentorship abilities were recognized with the 2014 ACOG Mentor of the Year Award. Thus, Dr. Simon is an exemplary role model and mentor for a large cohort of students and junior faculty members across several disciplines. In addition, with her commitment to illuminating the next generation of healthcare professionals about career path options, Dr. Simon created and leads the first health care workforce development Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through the Coursera Platform called, “Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare.”