Lone Simonsen Elected to Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters

Lone Simonsen, PhD, a research professor in the Department of Global Health, has been elected as a  foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, a prestigious science academy in Denmark. The Royal Academy was established in 1742 under King Christian VI and since then has elected a highly selective set of national and foreign members.

Simonsen currently serves as a professor in the Department of Global Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health where she conducts research and mentors students on infectious disease epidemiology and related topics. Over the past two decades she has worked as a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health on public health issues such as HIV/AIDS global patterns, drug-resistant tuberculosis, pandemic influenza, historic epidemiology, disease burden modeling, surveillance using e-health data and the evaluation of national vaccine programs for influenza, pneumococcus and rotavirus.

Simonsen gets students and colleagues excited about new ways of looking at old questions and for starting new initiatives. She is not shy about asking hard questions and as a result has changed a paradigm or two and catalyzed entire research fields along the way, in particular the study of molecular epidemiology of influenza and historic pandemic influenza research. For example, Simonsen recently led a WHO-sponsored project with over 60 collaborators in 26 countries to model the regional and global mortality of the 2009 influenza pandemic, finding that the death toll from the H1N1 virus was much higher than the official estimates.

Simonsen earned an MS degree in chemistry and biology from Denmark’s Roskilde University in 1985. She came to the United States to pursue a doctoral degree in population genetics at the University of Massachusetts, which she completed in 1992. She’s the recipient of many awards, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Distinguish Service Award and has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, commentaries and letters in collaboration with a global network of scientists.

The Royal Academy was established to foster a better understanding of science and today serves as a meeting place for prominent researchers from all over the world.