Dr. Leigh Ann Simmons is an Associate Professor in the Duke University School of Nursing. A former Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health scholar, she has published extensively and presented nationally and internationally in the areas of women’s health disparities, peripartum health behaviors and decision-making, personalized health care, and health care policy. Dr. Simmons’ current research focuses on innovations in personalized health behavior change interventions to prevent and manage chronic disease among women who experience health disparities due to rural residence, racial/ethnic identity, and socioeconomic status. She has a specific interest in addressing obesity and depression, which often co-occur and serve as gateway conditions to common disorders, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
Dr. Simmons earned a PhD in child and family development from the University of Georgia, a master's degree in couple and family therapy from MCP-Hahnemann University (now Drexel University), and a BA in literature/writing from the University of California at San Diego. Between 2005-2010 she served as a Health Disparities Scholar through the NIH Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Prior to coming to DUSON she was an assistant professor in the departments of Family Studies and Health Services Management at the University of Kentucky and in the Division of General Internal Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Simmons has extensive policy experience, having served as a Congressional Fellow on the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). She currently serves as the chair of the public policy and advocacy working group for the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Personalized Medicine.