New Leaders Named in Pediatrics for Children’s, UNMC

New leadership appointments at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Department of Pediatrics were announced today.

Kari Simonsen, M.D., has been appointed pediatrician-in-chief for Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and as interim chair for the UNMC Department of Pediatrics, and Ann Anderson Berry, M.D., Ph.D., has been appointed interim executive director of the Child Health Research Institute (CHRI), a collaborative effort between Children’s and UNMC. They replace Anna Spagnoli, M.D., who will continue in her role as a full-time professor at UNMC.

Rodrigo López, interim president & CEO of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, and Bradley Britigan, M.D., dean of the UNMC College of Medicine, announced the appointments, which are effective today.

“Dr. Simonsen is a talented, trusted physician-leader with a strong track record of excellence in clinical care, research and academics,” López said. “She will be a valuable addition to our executive team as we carry out our mission to improve the lives of children and serve our community.

“Advancing pediatric research and translating research to better outcomes for her patients has been a hallmark of Dr. Anderson Berry’s career. Her leadership will help us continue to elevate the work of the Child Health Research Institute to the benefit of children and families in our region and beyond.”

Dr. Britigan echoed López’s assessment of the two appointments.

“I look forward to working with Drs. Simonsen and Anderson Berry during the coming weeks in their new roles,” Dr. Britigan said. “They are two of our rising stars, and I’m confident they will do a terrific job of elevating pediatric care and research in our community.”  

A pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Dr. Simonsen joined the UNMC faculty in 2007 as assistant professor, Pediatrics. She was elevated to associate professor in 2013 and to professor in 2018. In 2018, she was appointed assistant vice chancellor for Faculty Affairs at UNMC. Since 2011, she has been serving as chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in the UNMC Department of Pediatrics. She also has served as the president of Children’s Specialty Physicians board of directors.

In 2018, Dr. Simonsen completed the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine (ELAM) program through Drexel University in Philadelphia. The ELAM program is a one-year program that offers leadership training and networking opportunities to women in academic medicine, dentistry, public health and pharmacy. Dr. Anderson Berry is currently enrolled in the ELAM program.

A neonatologist, Dr. Anderson Berry joined the UNMC faculty in 2004 as assistant professor, Pediatrics, in the Division of Newborn Medicine. She was elevated to associate professor in 2011 and to professor in 2018. She currently serves as division chief of Neonatology in the UNMC Department of Pediatrics.

She was appointed by UNMC as the inaugural fellowship director for Neonatal Perinatal Medicine in 2018. Since 2015, Dr. Anderson Berry has served as co-medical director for the Nebraska Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative (NPQIC), a collaborative effort designed to improve the delivery of and access to evidence-based health care for all Nebraska mothers and newborns. She also recently completed a term as president of the UNMC Faculty Senate. Dr. Anderson Berry has landed more than 30 research grants during her career.

CHRI, which was initiated in 2018, strengthens the commitment of Children’s and UNMC in defining a research roadmap for the future, emphasizing the importance of providing the latest treatment breakthroughs to patients locally.

“Like many other great endeavors in this community, CHRI is a partnership in its truest sense,” Dr. Gold said. “The return on this investment is the improved health of children here and everywhere. There’s really not a better outcome than that.”

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