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Karen Simmer Headshot

Emeritus Professor Karen Simmer AO

UWA Medical School

"Don't underestimate yourself."

Dr Karen Simmer was appointed as the inaugural Professor of Newborn Medicine at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at King Edward and Perth Children Hospitals (2001-2020). In 2006, she established the first Human Milk Bank in Australia. Professor Simmer was elected Chair of the Academic Board at UWA (2009-2012). She has qualifications from Sydney, London, and Harvard Universities, has over 200 research publications and was the Co-Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for preterm infants. Professor Simmer was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia for her commitment to paediatrics as an academic, researcher and clinician. She was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science (AAHMS) and is an Honorary Professor, University of Sydney and an Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute.

Most interesting aspect of my career

Working in London for five years.

Most important experiences at UWA

Being elected as Chair of the Academic Board and a member of Senate. I was the first woman to hold this position, and also the first person from the Medical School. Being a Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for preterm infants.

Where did you think you would end up when you began your career?

I planned to be a neonatal paediatrician with a PhD. Over time, I developed leadership qualities that facilitated my career progression.

What do you consider to be your most significant achievements?

Leading the clinical team for care of newborn infants across WA and integrating research into most aspects of this care. The results included excellent clinical outcomes and an international reputation for the team. My children.

Where to from here?

I continue to supervise six PhD students and to do some work with NHMRC. My new interests are classical piano, tennis, and bridge. My granddaughter keeps me busy two days a week.

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