Staff Psychologist in the Pain Treatment Service
Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative, and Pain Medicine, Stanford University Medical Center
Laura E. Simons received her PhD at the University of Georgia under the mentorship of Dr. Ronald Blount and completed postdoctoral training at the Pain Treatment Service at Boston Children’s Hospital under the mentorship of Deirdre Logan, PhD, and Lisa Scharff, PhD. Dr. Simons is currently an associate professor of anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine (pediatric), a staff psychologist at the Pain Management Center, and the Director of the Biobehavioral Pediatric Pain Lab at the Stanford University Medical Center.
Dr. Simons is a committed researcher and clinician with a primary focus on assessment and development of treatment interventions to improve the lives of youth with chronic pain. Her program of research focuses on pain-related fear, encompassing therapeutic program development and evaluation, coping with pain, parent responses to pain, anxiety/fear, psychophysiology, and assessment scale development with pediatric populations. She conceptualizes this construct as an underlying mechanism that maintains persistent disability in youth with chronic pain. Pain-related fear leads to avoidance of activities and situations that might be painful. As avoidance becomes more prevalent, patients experience more functional disability and lower quality of life. Working with patients to gradually overcome avoidance of fear activities and return to a fuller, productive life inspired her current line of research. Most recently she has begun integrating neuroimaging techniques into her body of work to examine the neural circuitry of fear and learning in youth with chronic pain.
Dr. Simons has received several grants and awards to support her research efforts, with a recently awarded Early Career Award in Pediatric Pain by the International Association for the Study of Pain. Since departing for Stanford in late 2016, Dr. Simons maintains a research associate appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital and continues to work closely with the PAIN Research Group.
Dr. Simons is an active member of the Society of Pediatric Psychology, serving as newsletter editor for Progress Notes, chair of the International Committee, seeking to expand membership of SPP worldwide, and was the 2012 Donald K. Routh Early Career Awardee. She is also an active member of the American Pain Society, serving on grant and awards committees, and was the 2013 John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar.