Author Profile

Lone Simonsen

Affiliation: Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Lone Simonsen holds a PhD in population genetics from University of Massachusetts, Amherst and later trained at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in infectious disease epidemiology. She is currently a research professor in the department of global health at George Washington University where she happily mentors MPH, DrPH and PhD students in topics relating to global health epidemiology. She spent 6 months as a Lundbeck visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen in 2014, to develop research in historic epidemiology and health transitions. She is a senior fellow in the RAPIDD (mathematical modeling for policy) network hosted at the Fogarty International Center at the National institutes of Health (NIH) and Princeton University. She is an elected member of the American Epidemiological Society AES, and the Danish Royal Academy of Sciences & Letters. Over the past 20+ years she has worked as a researcher at the CDC, World Health Organization (WHO) and NIH on issues including unsafe medical injections, global patterns of HIV/AIDS, TB drug resistance, SARS, pandemic influenza, e-health data, surveillance systems and vaccine program evaluation. Before moving to academia in 2007, she was a senior epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health-NIAID where she assisted the office of the director with its research response to emerging health issues, including work on rotavirus vaccine adverse events for which she received the Department of Health & Human Services DHHS Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award She has published more than 150 well-cited peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, commentaries and letters, in collaboration with a global network of researchers. Her research currently focuses on modeling of historic and contemporary pandemics and emerging infectious diseases, population transitions in health, modeing the burden of influenza and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and evaluating health benefits associated with vaccine programs on a grant from the Gates Foundation. Simonsen is a frequent speaker at national and international meetings, she served on an influenza expert panel for the Council of Foreign Relations, and presented on pandemic surveillance issues at the President's Council of Advisors on Science andTechnology Policy in 2009. She is currently also working with her RAPIDD collaborators on modeling the Ebola disaster in West africa. She recently led a WHO-sponsored multi-country collaboration to model the 2009 influenza pandemic burden, and is frequently called on by WHO to participate in workshops and meetings on pandemic preparedness, frameworks/policy issues for pandemic preparedness, methodology issues in disease surveillance, including monitoring and evaluation of vaccine program impact. Scientific Productivity (by 2008/ever): H-inex: 44/55 and I10-index:98/111

Recent Posts

Preliminary Estimates of Mortality and Years of Life Lost Associated with the 2009 A/H1N1 Pandemic in the US and Comparison with Past Influenza Seasons

The on-going debate about the health burden of the 2009 influenza pandemic and discussions about the usefulness of vaccine recommendations has been hampered by an absence of directly comparable measures of mortality impact. Here we set out to generate an “apples-to-apples” metric to compare pandemic and epidemic mortality. We estimated the mortality burden of the pandemic in the US using a methodology similar to that used to generate excess mortality burden for inter-pandemic influenza seasons. We also took into account the particularly young age distribution of deaths in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, using the metric “Years of Life Lost” instead of numbers of deaths. Estimates are based on the timely pneumonia and influenza mortality surveillance data from 122 US cities, and the age distribution of laboratory-confirmed pandemic deaths, which has a mean of 37 years. We estimated that between 7,500 and 44,100 deaths are attributable to the A/H1N1 pandemic virus in the US during May-December 2009, and that between 334,000 and 1,973,000 years of life were lost. The range of years of life lost estimates includes in its lower part the impact of a typical influenza epidemic dominated by the more virulent A/H3N2 subtype, and the impact of the 1968 pandemic in its upper bound. We conclude that the 2009 A/H1N1 pandemic virus had a substantial health burden in the US over the first few months of circulation in terms of years of life lost, justifying the efforts to protect the population with vaccination programs. Analysis of historic records from three other pandemics over the last century suggests that the emerging pandemic virus will continue to circulate and cause excess mortality in unusually young populations for the next few years. Continuing surveillance for indicators of increased mortality is of key importance, as pandemics do not always cause the majority of associated deaths in the first season of circulation.