2013 John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award
Laura E. Simons, PhD
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 assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and staff psychologist in the Pain Treatment Service at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Simons’ program of research focuses on pain-related fear. 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. Dr. Simons developed the Fear of Pain Questionnaire to assess pain-related fear in youth. She demonstrated that the Fear Avoidance Model of Chronic Pain is applicable for pediatric populations, and that a high level of pain-related fe ar is a risk factor for less favorable treatment outcomes within the context of intensive rehabilitation. Additionally, under the mentorship of David Borsook, MD PhD, she is integrating neuroimaging techniques into her body of work to examine the neural correlates of pain-related fear in children,, positioning herself to execute a program of research that spans mechanistic understandings of psychological processes to implementation of cutting-edge treatment interventions for children and adolescents with chronic pain.
The John C. Liebeskind Early Career Scholar Award was named in 1998 to honor the memory of John C. Liebeskind, PhD, a past president of APS who was a noted pain researcher, scientist, and teacher. The Early Career Scholar Award recognizes early career achievements that have made outstanding contributions to pain scholarship.