Simpson Research Group

Dr Simpson studies the effects of exercise and stress on the immune system. Major cross-cutting themes of his work are aging (immunosenescence) and cancer.  Specifically, Dr Simpson and his team study how single exercise bouts can be used to augment the recovery and expansion of specific immune cells that can be used therapeutically to treat patients with hematologic malignancies; and how exercise can be used to negate the onset of immunosenescence during natural aging.

He is also interested in how exercise training can contribute to improved patient survival and quality of life through immune and inflammatory pathways at all phases of the cancer care continuum. His current work includes three NASA funded projects that aim to (i) examine the effects of long duration spaceflight on astronaut immune function and illness rates; (ii) characterize behavioral and psychiatric risks associated with extreme isolation and confinement (Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Candice Alfano); and (iii) determine the effects of simulated microgravity and acute radiation exposure on viral infectivity and host immune evasion.

Dr Simpson is an Exercise Immunologist and Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Health and Human Performance. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM) and a member of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS) and the International Society of Exercise Immunology (ISEI). He currently serves as Associate Editor of Exercise Immunology Reviews, is a past Guest Editor of Brain, Behavior and Immunity, and sits on the editorial boards of American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine and Inflammopharmacology.

Dr. Simpson has published over 50 peer-reviewed research articles and several book chapters in exercise physiology/immunology, and has reviewed applications for research funding for the National Institute of Health and the ACSM. As PI or Co-PI, he has generated almost ~$3,000,000 in research funding from NASA for projects related to (i) graded exercise testing, (ii) astronaut immune functioning, (iii) stress associated with extreme isolation and confinement; and (iv) virus infectivity and host immune evasion. 

Dr. Simpson is an experienced graduate student mentor. His former students have left his laboratory to take up post-doctoral positions at the University of Oxford (UK), the University of Birmingham (UK), Harvard Medical School (MA), NASA Johnson Space Center (TX), and the University of Houston (TX). Two of his former doctoral students/post-docs are now tenure-track Assistant Professors at Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of Houston.