Karen Simmer

Emeritus Professor, MB BS Syd., PhD Lond., GradCertTertEd Flin., MRCP(U.K.), FRCPCH(U.K.), FRACP

  • The University of Western Australia (M505), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


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Personal profile


Professor Newborn Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Western Australia (WA).
Director, Neonatal Intensive Care Units, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children and Newborn Emergency Transport Service, WA
Co-Director NHMRC – Centre of Research Excellence for Preterm Infants and the UWA Centre for Neonatal Research and Education
Director, Human Milk Bank, King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, Perth, WA
Honorary Professor, University of Sydney, Clinical Trials Centre.
Honorary Research Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute.
Officer in the Order of Australia for commitment to medicine in paediatrics, particularly neonatal and perinatal nutrition, to medical education as an academic, researcher and clinician (2015).
Fellow, Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (2017).

Roles and responsibilities

Co-Director – NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for Pre-term Infants
Co-Director – UWA Centre for Neonatal Research & Education
Chair Academic Board and Council, and member of the Senate (UWA). (2008-2012)
Director, Human Milk Bank, WA. (2006 -).
Director, Neonatal Intensive Care, King Edward Memorial and Princess Margaret Hospitals. (2001-)

FAAHMC. Australian Academy of Health and Medical Science, 2017
Australian Institute of Company Directors, 2010
Graduate Diploma in HSM (Health Law). ECU 2003
MBBS, (First Class Honours) Sydney University, 1979
Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Education, Flinders University of South Australia, 1998
FRCPCH, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health, 1997
FRACP, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1987
PhD, London University, 1986
MRCP, Royal College of Physicians, UK, 1984

Funding overview

2017-2012 Grand Solutions – Denmark Innovation Fund.
Sangild PT….Simmer K Bovine colostrum for newborn infants $7,163,000

2017-2018 Telethon/PCH Currie A (Simmer K AI) Plasma secretory type 2 phospholipase A2: a novel diagnostic marker for neonatal late-onset sepsis, $196,070

2016-2020 NHMRC 1105322.
Simmer, Strunk, Tarnow-Mordi, Patole, Anderson, Hague, Inder, Doherty, Marlow, Barrington.
Can pentoxifylline improve longterm outcomes of preterm infants with late-onset sepsis or necrotising enterocolitis- a pragmatic randomised controlled trial.

2016-2020 NHMRC 1099480.
Prescott, Keelan, Simmer, Palmer, Allcock, Lassmann.
Dietary modulation of maternal gut flora with oligosaccharides in pregnancy as a novel allergy prevention strategy.

2015-2019 NHMRC ID 1085832,
Edmonds K, Atkinson D, Marley J, Trust S, Angeleke C, Fitzpatrick J, Marriot R, Hunt C, McAullay D, Simmer K.
Improving antenatal care for Aboriginal mothers in the Kimberley region of western Australia. A population and region based step wedge cluster randomised trial driven by local health service providers.

2015 – 2016 Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation
Rao S, Patole S, Jape G, Simmer K.
Effect of single versus multi-strain probiotic supplementation on the time to full enteral feeds in preterm neonates – a double blind randomised controlled trial.

2015 Medical & Health Research Infrastructure Fund
Simmer K
MHRIF Round 19
MHRIF Round 18

2014 NHMRC Equipment Grants
Silva D, Prescott S, Beaman M, Blyth C, Carapetis J, Carter K, Colvin L, Eastwood P, Gibson L, Glauert R, Hall G, Haynes A, Huang R-C, Jogeling B, Keelan J, Lassmann T, Moses E, Northcott N, Palmer D, Richmond P, Simmer K, Vickery A, Whitehouse A.
Body Composition PEA POD

2014 - 2016 Telethon/Perth Children’s Hospital
Blackwell, Jamieson, Simmer, Charles, Dickinson, Laing, Baynam, Goldblatt, Dawkins, Bower, Allcock, Francis, Skoss, Murphy, Beilby, Davis, Graham, Ravenscroft, Leonard
SegNextGen : Translating NextGen Sequencing for the diagnosis of developmental anomalies and rare diseases

2013 NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence
Pillow J, Simmer K et al.
Improving the immediate and longer-term health outcomes of preterm infants.

2013-2017 NHMRC ID 1047689
University of Western Australia
Pillow J, Hall G, Hantos Z, Gill A, Wilson A, Doherty D(CIs). Simmer K (AI)
Bronchopulmonary dysplasia: Identifying cardiorespiratory consequences and targets for prevention and intervention.

2013 Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation
Simmer K, Hartmann P, Shellam G, Keil A, Lloyd M.
CMV infection of preterm babies from expressed breast milk: defining markers of infection risk.

2013 UWA Collaborative Research Award (Imperial College)
McLeod G, Modi N, Simmer K, Reeder A, Nathan L.
Metabolomic outcomes in extreme preterm infants.

2011 Medela, Switzerland.
(2011 $100,000, 2015 $80,000)
Randomised clinical trial – innovative feeding system

2011-15 NHMRC ID 1022112
($1.9 million)
Adelaide University
Collins C, Gibson R, McPhee A, Thio M, Sullivan T, Simmer K, Rajadurai V.
DHA for the reduction of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in premature babies.

2011 -2014 NHMRC ID 1022255
University of Western Australia
Doherty D, Newnham J, Larson A, Hornbuckle J, Simmer K, Henderson J.
Improvements in the Aboriginal maternal and infant health outcomes due to the introduction of Aboriginal Health Workers into tertiary care.

Previous positions

Lead. WA Women's and Newborns' Health Network. Department of Health, WA.
Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Flinders University of South Australia
1998Senior Staff Specialist in Neonatology, Flinders Medical Centre
Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics, Flinders University of South Australia
1987 Senior Staff Specialist in Neonatology, Flinders Medical Centre
1986 Lecturer in Neonatology, United Dental and Medical Schools of Guys’ & St Thomas’ Hospitals, University of London
1982-1985Senior Registrar in Paediatrics, St Thomas’ Hospital, London
1982Senior Registrar in Neonatology, St George’s Hospital, London
1980-1982 Resident and Registrar, Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney
1979-1980 Intern, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney

Teaching overview

International Program of Preterm Nutrition (NNI).
Postgraduate. Graduate Diploma in Masters Neonatology
Postgraduate Advanced Trainees in Neonatal Paediatrics.
Postgraduate Masters and PhD students.
Undergraduate Medical Students in Fourth and Fifth year.


- Nutrition of the preterm infant – enteral and parenteral
- Human milk banks and breastfeeding
- Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and child development
- Neonatal infection – innate immunity and late-onset sepsis

- Improving the growth and development of preterm infants
- Infection, inflammation and disability after preterm birth
- 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
- Probiotics and prebiotics and the prevention of necrotising enterocolitis


Year 12

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research expertise keywords

  • Neonatology
  • Perinatal and infant nutrition


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