Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson to Lead Research and Global Programs for March of Dimes Foundation

Todd P. Dezen, (914) 997-4608, tdezen@marchofdimes.com
Elizabeth Lynch, (914) 997-4286, elynch@marchofdimes.com
Nate Brown, (202) 292-2755, nbrown@marchofdimes.com

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., OCT. 31, 2011 – Joe Leigh Simpson, M.D., has been named senior vice president for Research and Global Programs at the March of Dimes, it was announced today. He will assume his new responsibilities on January 2, 2012.

Dr. Simpson is currently executive associate dean for Academic Affairs, Florida International University (FIU) Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, Miami.

“As a scientist, geneticist, and expert in women’s health issues, Dr. Simpson shares the March of Dimes dedication to helping every woman who wants a child to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby,” said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes.

At the March of Dimes, Dr. Simpson will lead one of the nation’s premier grant-making programs, with a $100 million research grant portfolio focused on the prevention of birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality, including basic biological processes of development, genetics, clinical studies, studies of reproductive health, environmental toxicology, and studies in social and behavioral sciences. He also will guide March of Dimes global partnerships with academic medical centers, international organizations, and non-government organizations in middle- and lower-income countries to help improve maternal and infant health. Examples of its initiatives include perinatal health education and training, genetics education, and interventions for specific risk factors such as rubella immunization.

Prior to his new appointment at the March of Dimes, Dr. Simpson served on the organization’s Scientific Advisory Board, Scientific Advisory Committee on Prematurity, and Prematurity Research Initiative Advisory Council.

Dr. Simpson succeeds Michael Katz, M.D., Carpentier professor emeritus of Pediatrics and professor emeritus of Public Health at Columbia University, who served nearly 20 years as senior VP for Research and Global Programs. Dr. Katz will continue on a part-time basis with the March of Dimes to help establish new transdisciplinary research centers on preterm birth.

Dr. Simpson received his medical education at Duke University and subsequently trained in pediatrics and in obstetrics and gynecology at Cornell University Medical College, New York Hospital. He took a fellowship in human genetics with laboratory training in cytogenetics under Dr. James L. German, one of the founding fathers of cytogenetics. He was on the faculty at Northwestern University, University of Tennessee Memphis, and Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Simpson is board certified in medical genetics as well as in obstetrics and gynecology.

He has played leadership roles in many professional organizations and peer review journals. He has often served as associate editor, including for Prenatal Diagnosis, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, and Reproductive BioMedicine. He has served on the Program Committee at the American Society of Human Genetics, and fulfilled many roles for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, including liaison to the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was 1993-1994 President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, 1994-1998 President of the International Society of Prenatal Diagnosis, 1998-1999 President of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation, 2007-09 President of the American College of Medical Genetics, 2006-09 President of the Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis International Society, and will be 2013-2016 President of the International Federation of Fertility Societies.

Dr. Simpson has served as a technical adviser for the World Health Organization. Other major assignments have included the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Advisory Council, NICHD Board of Scientific Counselors, and three Institute of Medicine publications.

He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow ad eundem of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London, England.

Dr. Simpson has written 15 major books; he also has written 740 articles, chapters and reviews. He has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Department of Defense to support studies ranging from diabetes and birth defects, to safety and efficacy of prenatal genetic diagnosis, to recovery of fetal cells and cell-free DNA from maternal blood, to biosensors. He has trained many reproductive geneticists, and been principal investigator on National Institutes of Health faculty mentoring training (K-12) awards.

At FIU, Dr. Simpson is involved in research on genes causing premature ovarian failure. His most current work in prenatal genetic diagnosis focuses on recovery of intact fetal cells and cell-free DNA from maternal blood for definitive noninvasive prenatal genetic diagnosis, the first detection of fetal trisomy in maternal blood having been made by Dr. Simpson and colleagues in 1991.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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