Department of Surgery

Richard L. Simmons, MD

  • Distinguished Service Professor of Surgery
  • Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery
  • Vice Chair for Surgical Research
  • Medical Director, UPMC

Dr. Richard Simmons graduated magna cum laude in biochemical sciences from Harvard University and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He earned his MD at Boston University, graduating summa cum laude, and was elected to AOA. He completed his surgical residency at New York Presbyterian Hospital, where he was a National Institutes of Health (NIH) postdoctoral fellow, a visiting fellow in surgery at Columbia University, and an American Cancer Society (ACS) clinical fellow. Also during this time, he won the Mead Johnson Award of ACS and was a clinical and research fellow in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. He became principal investigator of an RO1 grant as a resident and was NIH funded for more than 40 consecutive years thereafter.

After heading the surgical research team of the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1967, Simmons joined the surgical faculty of the University of Minnesota, where he was a Markle scholar in academic medicine and held professorships in both surgery and microbiology. Between 1987 and 1998, Dr. Simmons served as chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and in 1996, he became the medical director of UPMC—a position he held until 2015.

During his tenure at Pitt, Dr. Simmons has received many honors. Locally, he was given the annual award from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter of ACS and the Gift of Life Award from the National Kidney Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and was named Man of the Year (1998) in Science by Vectors of Pittsburgh. He was selected by Archives of Surgery as one of two dozen 20th–century surgeons who have made significant contributions to surgery, and in 2001, ACS dedicated the Surgical Forum to Dr. Simmons. In 2004, Dr. Simmons received the Medawar Prize for his work in transplantation immunology and infectious disease. He was awarded the Starzl Prize in Transplantation and Immunology in 2005 and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of University Surgeons in 2010. The Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation honored Dr. Simmons with the Ralph C. Wilde Leadership Award in March 2014. Most recently, Dr. Simmons was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the local National Kidney Foundation on March 7, 2015, as the inaugural recipient. Dr. Simmons is past chair of the Surgical Forum and past president of the Society of University Surgeons, American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and Surgical Infection Society. Dr. Simmons also has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Board of Surgery. He has authored or edited 15 books and more than 1,300 articles. In 1994, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.

In addition to his role as medical director of UPMC, he continues to serve the Department of Surgery as chair emeritus and as an advisor and mentor.

Education & Training

  • AB, Harvard College
  • MD, Boston University

Representative Publications

Dr. Simmons' publications can be reviewed through PubMed.

Research, Clinical, and/or Academic Interests

Cytokine networks in inflammation

Faculty by divisions