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The Office of Public Health Practice Alumni Spotlight Series: Sarah Simmons, MPH

by Office of Public Health Practice on 02/22/2021
Sarah Simmons
Sarah Simmons, MPH

Sarah Simmons, MPH, research associate with Kaiser Permanente and graduated with an MPH in Epidemiology in 2019 recently did a Q&A with the OPHP about public health and learning at SLU.

OPHP: What was the most important lesson or experience you gained at SLU?
SS: "Probably the internship experience facilitated by the college. I did it with the CUNY CEESP (Cancer
Epidemiology Education in Special Populations) program. For this program, applicants design the
study and then get partnered with mentors and funders. I looked at cancer rates between zip codes
north and south of Delmar Boulevard."

Tell us a little bit about your job with Kaiser Permanente?
"I work with vaccine safety monitoring. My effort is half with the CDC’s vaccine safety data link project and half conducting research with pharmaceutical companies. I’ve done post-market testing with Dynavax’s Hepatitis B vaccine and GSK’s BOOSTRIX vaccine. They’re approved by the FDA. My department works on Stage IV clinical trials, monitoring vaccines in the population. For BOOSTRIX, we are looking at maternal adverse events and infant anomalies in mothers who take the vaccine versus mothers who do not."

What are you most proud of, professionally or otherwise?
"The work that I’m currently doing with the CDC and pharmaceutical companies. I’m passionate about vaccine safety and helping people alleviate their concerns about vaccines so populations can become vaccinated." 

What is your vision for the future of public health? 
"I hope in the future there will be more emphasis in funding. I hope we put emphasis on catching stuff earlier and prevention, but that also takes funding."

Sarah's message for current students:
"Prioritize what is and will be most important...if you don’t know what you want to do, you can dip into various things. Stay the course! I’ve never regretted getting my MPH."

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States.

Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the College offers nationally recognized programs in public health, social work, health administration, applied behavior analysis, and criminology and criminal justice.