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Amanda M. Simanek, PhD, MPH

Amanda M. Simanek, PhD, MPH
Director, Michael Reese Foundation Center for Health Equity Research; Associate Professor, Epidemiology

Dr. Amanda Simanek received her MPH in International Health Epidemiology and PhD in Epidemiologic Science from University of Michigan School of Public Health, where she trained as a social epidemiologist and then served as a member of the research faculty in the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health. Prior to joining RFU, she was a faculty member in the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, helping to build new MPH and PhD programs in Epidemiology.

Dr. Simanek's research focuses on understanding psychosocial determinants of infectious disease, identifying novel biologic pathways by which social inequities in health develop across the lifecourse and are perpetuated across generations, and assessing best practices in science communication and infodemic management in the context of public health crises. Her research, funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the Marmot Prince Mahidol Fellowship, focuses on understanding the biologic pathways by which prenatal socioeconomic disadvantage adversely affects offspring health such as via fetal programming of the immune system and via alterations to the neonatal epigenome. She has also assessed social patterning of acquisition and immune control of bacteria and viruses that persist in the body over time and the role such pathogens play in the development of chronic disease outcomes such as cardiovascular disease and depression. Last, she is founding member and contributing writer for the COVID-19 social media-based science communication effort, Dear Pandemic, a project which actively addresses the COVID-19 infodemic and has assessed the information needs of individuals over the course of the pandemic.

In her capacity as founding Director of the Michael Reese Foundation Center for Health Equity Research, she aims for the center to foster health equity-focused research collaborations that are responsive to community needs, address socio-structural determinants of health and involve implementation of interventions aimed at improving health equity in Lake County, IL.

Curriculum Vitae


Recent Publications

  • Woo, J.M.P., Parks, C.G., Lynch, E.E., Auer, P.L., Simanek, A.M., Konkel, R.H., Taylor, J., Sandler, D.P., Meier, H.C.S.M. (2022) Early life trauma and adult leucocyte telomere length. Psychoneuroendocrinology. Sep 1;33(5):729-738. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001507. Epub 2022 May 16. PMID: 35580243; PMCID: PMC9378657.
  • Simanek, A.M., Mansala, R., Woo, J.M.P., Meier, H.C.S, Needham, B. and Auer, P.L. (2022) Prenatal Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Alterations to the Neonatal Epigenome Children in the Born in Bradford Cohort. Epigenetics. Jul 14:1-15. doi: 10.1080/15592294.2022.2098569. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35837690.
  • Woo J.M.P, Simanek, A.M., O’Brien, K., Parks. C., Gaston, S., Auer, P., Konkel, R.H., Jackson, C., Meier, H.C.S, Sandler, D.P. (2022) Latent class models of early life trauma and incident breast cancer. Epidemiology, Sep 1;33(5):729-738. doi: 10.1097/EDE.0000000000001507. Epub 2022 May 16. PMID: 35580243; PMCID: PMC9378657.
  • Albrecht, S., Jones, M., Aronowitz, S., Dowd, J.B., Hale, L., Kumar, A., Leininger, L., Ritter, A.Z., Simanek, A.M., Whelan, C., and Buttenheim, A. (2022) Lessons Learned from Dear Pandemic, a Social Media-based Science Communication Project Targeting the COVID-19 Infodemic. Public Health Reports. Mar 3:333549221076544. doi: 10.1177/00333549221076544. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35238241.
  • Leininger, L., Albrecht, S., Buttenheim, A., Dowd, J.B., Ritter, A., Simanek A.M., Valentino, M.J., Jones, M. (2022) Fight Like a Nerdy Girl: The Dear Pandemic Playbook for Combating Health Misinformation. American Journal of Health Promotion. Mar;36(3):563-567. doi: 10.1177/08901171211070956. PMID: 35164543; PMCID: PMC9354480. 
  • Simanek, A.M., Meier, H.C.S., D’Alioso, A., Sandler, D.P. (2021) Objective and Subjective Childhood Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Incident Depression in Adulthood: A Longitudinal Analysis in the Sister Study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. Jul;56(7):1201-1210. doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-02013-5. Epub 2021 Apr 21. PMID: 33881563; PMCID: PMC8580191.
  • Ritter, A.Z., Aronowitz, S., Leininger, L., Jones, M., Dowd, J.B., Albrecht, S., Buttenheim, A.M., Simanek, A.M., Hale, L., and Kumar, A. (2021) Dear Pandemic: Nurses as Key Partners in Fighting the COVID-19 Infodemic. Public Health Nursing. Jul;38(4):603-609. doi: 10.1111/phn.12903. Epub 2021 Apr 20. PMID: 33876450; PMCID: PMC8251166.
  • Kirkham, F., Bano, A., Simanek, A.M., Pera, A., Reus, B., Caserta, S., Smith, H., Davies, K., Rajkumar, C., and Kern, F. (2021) Cytomegalovirus infection is associated with an increase in aortic stiffness in older men which may be mediated in part by CD4 memory T-cells. Theranostics; Mar 31;11(12):5728-5741. doi: 10.7150/thno.58356. PMID: 33897878; PMCID: PMC8058738.