The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Karen Simmer

Professor Karen Simmer AO

Professor of Newborn Medicine (Neonatal Research)
Paediatrics

Contact details
Address
Paediatrics
The University of Western Australia (M551)
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
Australia
Phone
+61 8 9340 1262
Fax
+61 8 9340 1266
Email
karen.simmer@uwa.edu.au / karen.simmer@health.wa.gov.au

Co-Director
Staff Cache

Contact details
Address
Staff Cache
The University of Western Australia (M551)
35 Stirling Highway
CRAWLEY WA 6009
Australia
Phone
+61 8 9340 1262
Fax
+61 8 9340 1266
Email
karen.simmer@uwa.edu.au / karen.simmer@health.wa.gov.au
Qualifications
MB BS Syd., PhD Lond., GradCertTertEd Flin., MRCP(U.K.), FRCPCH(U.K.), FRACP
Biography
Karen Simmer is Professor of Newborn Medicine and Chair of the Academic Board at the University of Western Australia. She is Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Units at King Edward Hospital for Women and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth. She is Director of the Human Milk Bank in Western Australia which was recently awarded the Premier’s prize for outstanding contribution to the community of Western Australia. She has paediatric specialist qualifications from the Australasian and British Colleges and was awarded a PhD in perinatal nutrition from London University
Prof Simmer is the Co-Lead of the WA Women’s and Newborns’ Network. She is Chair of the Nutrition Reference Group for the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Her current research interests are in neonatal nutrition and infection.
In 2009, she has been invited to lecture at scientific meetings in China, England, Japan and India. Prof Simmer is also a Board member of numerous research and educational institutions including Presbyterian Ladies College and Bonnie Babies Foundation.
Key research
-Nutrition of the preterm infant – enteral and parenteral
-Human milk and breastfeeding
-Human milk banks
-Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and child development
-Neonatal infection – innate immunity and late-onset sepsis
MAJOR RESEARCH INTERESTS
-Growth and development of preterm infants
-Modification of human milk to meet the needs of very preterm infants
-Improving methods of processing donor human milk
-Parenteral lipid, optimal fatty acid solutions for term and preterm infants
-Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation and intelligence
-Innate immunity in preterm infants
-Determining the optimal oxygen saturation for preterm infants
-Evaluating the need for benefits and risks of treatment of patent ductus arteriosus in preterm infants
-Probiotics and prebiotics and the prevention of necrotising enterocolitis
Publications
Over 90 peer-review publications including:
Simmer K, Thompson RPH. Maternal zinc and intrauterine growth retardation. Clinical Science 1985;68:395-399.
Simmer K, Khanum S, Carisson L, Thompson RPH. Nutritional rehabilitation in Bangladesh: The importance of zinc. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1988;47:1036-1040.
Simmer K, Lort-Phillips L, James C, Thompson RPH. Double-blind randomised trial of zinc supplementation in pregnancy. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1991;45:139-144.
Makrides M, Simmer K, Goggin M, Gibson R. Erythrocyte Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) correlates with the visual response of healthy term infants. Pediatric Research 1993;33:425-427.
Makrides M, Neumann MA, Byard RW, Simmer K, Gibson RA. The fatty acid composition of brain and erythrocytes in breast and formula fed infants. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994;60:189-194.
Makrides M, Neumann M, Simmer K, Pater J, Gibson R. Are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids essential nutrients in infancy? Lancet 1995;345:1463-68.
Daniels L, Gibson R, Simmer K. Glutathione Peroxidase is not a functional marker of selenium status in the neonatal period. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition 1998;26:263-68.
Makrides M, Leeson R, Gibson RA, Simmer K. Randomised clinical trial of increased dietary iron in breastfed infants. Journal of Pediatrics 1998;133:559-62.
Morris S, Simmer K, VanBarneveld R, Gibson RA. Developmental sensitivity of the piglet brain to docosahexaenoic acid. Pediatric Research 1999;46:401-405.
Makrides M, Neumann MA, Simmer K, Gibson RA. Dietary Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LCPUFA) do not influence the growth of term infants: a randomised clinical trial. Pediatrics 1999;104:468-75.
Makrides M, Neumann MA, Simmer K, Gibson RA. A critical appraisal of the role of dietary long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on neural indices of term infants: a randomised clinical trial. Pediatrics 2000;105:32-38.
Brooks J, Travadi J, Patole S, Doherty D, Simmer K. Is surgical ligation of patent ductus arteriosus necessary? The Western Australian experience of conservative management. Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2005;90:235-39.
Burke V, Beilin L, Simmer K, Blake K, Doherty D, Kendall G, Newnham J, Landau L, Stanley F. Predictors of body mass index and associations with cardiovascular risk factors in Australian children: a prospective cohort study. International Journal of Obesity 2005;29:15-23.
Burke V, Beilin L, Simmer K, Blake K, Doherty D, Kendall G, Newnham J, Landau L, Stanley F. Breastfeeding and overweight: a longitudinal analysis in an Australian birth cohort. J Pediatrics 2005;147:56-61.
Travadi J, Patole S, Charles A, Doherty D, Dvorak B, Simmer K. Pentoxifylline reduces the incidence and severity of necrotising enterocolitis in a neonatal rat model. Pediatr Res Aug 2006; 60(2): 185-9.
Hartmann BT, Pang WW, Keil AD, Hartmann PE, Simmer K. Best practice guidelines for the operation of a donor human milk bank in an Australian NICU. Early Human Dev 2007;83(10):667-73.
Simmer K. Aggressive nutrition for preterm infants—benefits and risks. Early Hum Dev Oct 2007;83(10):631-4.
Resnick SM, Hall GL, Simmer KN, Stick SM. Sharp MJ. The hypoxia challenge test does not accurately predict hypoxia in-flight in ex-preterm neonates. Chest 2008;133(5):1161-6.
Simmer K, Schulzke SM, Patole S. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;(1):CD000375.
Simmer K, Patole SK, Rao SC. Longchain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in infants born at term. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;(1):CD000376.
Hartmann BT, Pang WW, Keil AD, Hartmann PE, Simmer K. Best practice guidelines for the operation of a donor human milk bank in an Australian NICU. Early Human Dev 2007;83(10):667-73.
Dunstan JA, Simmer K, Dixon G, Prescott SL. Cognitive assessment of children at age 2 ½ years after maternal fish oil supplementation in pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. Arch. Dis. Child, Fetal and Neonatal Ed 2008;93(1):F45-F50. published with Editorial.
Henderson JJ, Simmer K, Hartmann PE, Newnham JP. Effect of preterm birth and antenatal corticosteroid treatment on lactogenesis II in women. Pediatrics 2008;121(1);e92-e100.
Daniels L, Gibson RA, Simmer K, Van Dael P, Makrides M. Selenium status of term infants fed selenium-supplemented formula in a randomized dose-response trial.. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2008;88(1):70-6.
Geddes DT, Langton DB, Gollow I, Jacobs LA, Simmer K. Frenulotomy for breastfeeding infants with ankyloglossia:effect on milk removal and sucking mechanism as imaged by ultrasound. Pediatrics 2008;122(1):e188-94.
Rampono J, Simmer K, Ilett K, Hackett P, Doherty D, Elliot R, Kok CH, Coenen A, Forman T. Placental transfer of SSRI and SNRI antidepressants and effects on the neonate. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2009 May;42(3):95-100.
Strunk T, Doherty D, Richmond P, Simmer K, Charles A, Levy O, Khema Liyanage K, Smith T, Currie A, Burgner D. Reduced levels of antimicrobial proteins and peptides in human cord blood plasma. Archives of Diseases in Childhood, Fetal & Neonatal Ed. 2009 May;94(3):F230-1.
Czank C, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. A method for standardizing the fat content of human milk for use in the neonatal intensive care unit. Int Breastfeed J. 2009 Apr 16;4:3.
Deshpande G, Mori T, Kroft K, Simmer K. Parenteral lipid emulsions based on olive oil compared with soybean oil in very preterm (<28 weeks gestation) neonates – a randomised controlled trial. JPGN.
Makrides M, Gibson RA, McPhee AJ, Collins CT, Davis PG, Doyle LW, Simmer K, Colditz PB, Morris S, Smithers LG, Wilson K, Ryan P. Neurodevelopmental outcomes of preterm infants fed high-dose docosahexaenoic acid: a randomised controlled trial. JAMA 2009; 301: 175-82.
Simmer K, Hartmann B. The knowns and unknowns of human milk banking. Early Hum Dev. 2009;85(11)701-4.
Czank C, Prime D, Hartmann B, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Retention of the immunological proteins of pasteurized human milk in relation to pasteurizer design and practice. Pediatr Res. 2009;66(4):374-9.
Czank C, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. A method for standardizing the fat content of human milk for use in the neonatal intensive care unit. Int Breastfeed J. 2009 Apr 16;4:3.
Deshpande GC, Simmer K, Mori T, Croft K. Parenteral lipid emulsions based on olive oil compared with soybean oil in preterm (<28 weeks’ gestation) neonates: a randomised controlled trial. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2009;49(5):619-25.
Donoghue DA, Henderson-Smart DJ. The establishment of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network. Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network. J Paediatr Child Health. 2009;45(7-8):400-4.
Henderson JJ, Newnham JP, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Effects of antenatal corticosteroids on urinary markers of the initiation of lactation in pregnant women. Breastfeed Med. 2009.
Makrides M, Gibson RA, McPhee AJ, Collins CT, Davis PG, Doyle LW, Simmer K, Colditz PB, Morris S, Smithers LG, Wilson K, Ryan P. Neurodevelopmental outcomes of preterm infants fed high-dose docosahexaenoic acid: a randomised controlled trial. JAMA. 2009; 301(2): 175-82.
Henderson JJ, Newnham JP, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Effects of antenatal corticosteroids on urinary markers of the initiation of lactation in pregnant women. Breastfeed Med. 2009;4(4):201-6.
Rao S, SimmerK. WHO growth charts for monitoring the growth of Australian children: time to begin the debate. J Paediatr Child Health. In press
Deshpande G, Simmer K. Lipids for parenteral nutrition in neonates. Nutrition Review. 2010. In press.
Carmel T, Gibson R, McPhee A, Davis P, Doyle L, Simmer K, Colditz P, Morris S, Sullivan T, Ryan P. Pre and post term growth in preterm infants supplemented with higher-dose DHA: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Nutrition. In press
Meldrum S, Smith M, Prescott S, Simmer K. Achieving definitive results in term infant LCPUFA supplementation trials: factors for consideration. Nutrition Reviews. Mar 2010. In press.
Simmer K, Schulzke SM, Patole S. Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in preterm infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;(1):CD000375. (Update in press 2010).
McLeod G, Simmer K, Benninger H, Mitoulas L, Doherty D, Sherriff J. Preterm infants with chronic lung disease: are protein and energy intakes after discharge sufficient for optimal growth. J Paediatr Child Health 2010 Nov 21.
Strunk T, Richmond P, Prosser A, Simmer K, Levy O, Burgner D, Currie A. Method of bacterial killing differentially affects the human innate immune response to Staphylococcus epidermidis. Innate Immunity. 2010, Aug 31.
Lai CT, Hale TW, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Measuring milk synthesis in breastfeeding mother. Breastfeeding Med. 2010;5(3):103-7.
Czank C, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Simultaneous pasteurization and homogenization of human milk by combining heat and ultrasound: effect on milk quality. J Dairy Res. 2010;7:1-7.
Schulzke S, Hall G, Nathan E, Simmer K, Nolan G, Pillow J. Lung volume and ventilation inhomogeneity in preterm infants at 15-18 months corrected age. Journal of Pediatrics. 2010;156(4):542-9.
Czank C, Simmer K, Hartmann PE. Design and characterization of a human milk product for the preterm infant. Breastfeed Med. 2010;5(2):59-66.
Strunk T, Currie A, Richmond P, Simmer K, Burgner D. Innate immunity in human newborn infants: prematurity means more than immaturity. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 2011. Jan 24 (1):25-31
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Chair Academic Board and Council, and member of the Senate (UWA).
Director, Neonatal Intensive Care, King Edward Memorial and Princess Margaret Hospitals.
Director, Human Milk Bank, WA.

MBBS, (First Class Honours) Sydney University, 1979
MRCP, Royal College of Physicians, UK, 1984
PhD, London University, 1986
FRACP, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1987
FRCPCH, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, 1997
Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education, Flinders University of South Australia, 1998
Graduate Diploma in HSM (Health Law). ECU 2003
Australian Institute of Company Directors, 2010
Funding received
NHMRC Public Health Research & Development Project Grant Gibson/Simmer, 1993 - $48,000, 1994 - $61,000, 1995 - $61,000
A critical examination of formulas in the nutrition of term infants.

Channel 7 Children’s Research Foundation, 1996-1997
Simmer, Leeson, Makrides - $40,000
A randomised clinical trial of dietary intervention to prevent iron deficiency in breastfed infants.

PMH Foundation, 2002
K Simmer, I Gollow, L Jacobson, D Langton, L Monterossi. - $6,000
Ankyloglossia: does frenulotomy affect breastfeeding outcomes.

Women and Infants Research Foundation, 2002
Henderson, Newnham, Hartmann, Simmer. $10,000
Effect of antenatal steroids on the initiation of lactation in the ewe.

Women and Infants Research Foundation, 2002
D Burgner, K Simmer. - $14,000
Immunogenetic susceptibility to neonatal group B streptococcal sepsis.
Raine Medical Research Foundation.
K Simmer. $53,589 2003, $66,950 2004.
Development and use of a fortifier from mothers milk to supplement breast milk expressed for preterm infants.

Women and Infants Research Foundation, 2003
G McLeod, J Sherriff, K Simmer, P Hartmann. - $14,000
Feeding the preterm infant with chronic lung disease post discharge.

Women and Infants Research Foundation, 2005
Simmer K, Hartmann B. - $5,000
The development of methods for quality control in human milk banking.

Women and Infants Research Foundation, 2005
Sharp M, Simmer K, Pillow J. $11,635
Airflight safety of preterm infants returning to referring hospitals in WA.

Princess Margaret Hospital Research Foundation, 2005
Simmer K, Pillow J. $9,895
Does ACE influence chronic lung disease and lung function in preterm neonates.

UWA Research Grants, 2004
D Burgner, K Simmer
2004 - $26,500
2005 - $8000
Determinants and consequences of immunological function in preterm infants.

Women and Infants Research Foundation.
Rampono J, Simmer K.
2004 $13,316
Depression in pregnancy, treatment with SSRI-SNRI antidepressants and effects on the newborn.

Women and Infants Research Foundation.
Travadi J, Patole S, Simmer K.
2004. $6,000
Effect of pentoxifylline and recombinant platelet-activating factor acetyl hydrolase in a neonatal rat model of necrotising enterocolitis.

NHMRC
Makrides, Gibson, McPhee David, Simmer, Morris. (Via University of Adelaide)
ID 520322 2003
$137,949, 2004 $180,782, 2005 $223,619, 2006 $133,043, 2007 $72,850
DHA for the improvement of neurodevelopment in preterm infants.

NHMRC ID 513847. 2008- 2010
$422,550
Peter Richmond, David Burgner, Ofer Levy, Andrew Currie, Karen Simmer, Dorota Doherty.
Innate immunity in premature infants: the role of Toll like receptors in susceptibility to infection.

NHMRC ID 572548. 2008 application
Burgner, Richmond, Currie, Simmer, Strunk, Levy
A prospective study of the development of innate immunity in very preterm infants and how this leads to increased susceptibility to late onset neonatal sepsis
2009: $183,250, 2010: $243,250, 2011: $188,750

ROTARY. Thornleigh & Belmont Clubs and Stan & Perron Charitable Trusts.
Simmer K, Hartmann P.
Human Milk Bank and laboratory.
$220,000.

Baxter. $20,000 Randomised clinical trial in extremely preterm infants of Intralipid v Clinoleic.

NHMRC 2009 project Grant. 571309 W Tarnow-Mordi, N Evans, J Newnham, D Osborn, D Isaacs, K Simmer, Australian Placental Transfusion Study $2,696,700.

SHRAC State Health Research Advisory Council 2008. Doherty, Larson, Hornbuckle, Bradley, Simmer, Newnham. Models for Improved Maternal Care for Rural and Remote Aboriginal Women. $112.176

NHMRC ID1004494 – 2011-2013
$314,865.20
Simmer K, Foster J, Smith M
Effect of high dose fish oil supplementation during infancy and FADS 1 & 2 genetic polymorphisms on neurocognitive development, executive functioning and scholastic performance.

NHMRC ID 1006053 – 2011-2015
$1,301,309.60
Hunt R, Colditz P, Inder T, Badawi N, Simmer K, Liley H, Osborn D, Cheong J, Wright T
A study of the impact of treating electrographic seizures in newborn infants with encephalopathy.

NHMRC ID 572548. 2009
2009: $183,250, 2010: $243,250, 2011: $188,750
D Burgner, P Richmond, A Currie, K Simmer, T Strunk, O Levy
A prospective study of the development of innate immunity in very preterm infants and how this leads to increased susceptibility to late onset neonatal sepsis.

Languages
French, Year 12
Memberships
Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand
Royal College of Physicians (UK) Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Paediatric Research Society (UK)
Cochrane Collaboration, Neonatal Review Group
International Society for research in Human Milk and Lactation
Sydney University Blues Association
Honours and awards
Inaugural winner of the Director General's Choice Award for most outstanding contribution to the health of the Australian Community. (Human Milk Bank) 2007
Premier’s award for Excellence in Public Sector Management. Creating a Healthy, Safe and Vibrant Western Australia. (Human Milk Bank) 2008
Pride of Australia Award, Community Spirit, (K Simmer) - finalist 2008
Previous positions
Employment Record

1979-1980 Intern, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
1980-1982 Resident and Registrar, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney
1982Senior Registrar in Neonatology, St George’s Hospital, London
1982-1985Senior Registrar in Paediatrics, St Thomas’ Hospital, London
1986 Lecturer in Neonatology, United Dental and Medical Schools of Guys’ & St Thomas’ Hospitals, University of London
1987 Senior Staff Specialist in Neonatology, Flinders Medical Centre
Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, Flinders University of South Australia
1998Senior Staff Specialist in Neonatology, Flinders Medical Centre
Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Flinders University of South Australia
Lead. WA Women's and Newborns' Health Network. Department of Health, WA.
Patents
Human milk fortifiers and methods of their production. European Patent Office. Application 0440 5592. 9 and 0440 55671.1
Method for analysing and treating human milk and system thereof. European Patent Office. Application 0440 5591. 1 and 0440 5566.3
Teaching
Undergraduate medical students in fourth and fifth year.
Postgraduate Masters and PhD students.
Postgraduate advanced trainees in neonatal paediatrics.
Current external positions
Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Council and Education Committee.
Bonnie Babies Foundation, Medical Board.
Research profile
Research profile and publications
 

The University of Western Australia

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM