Sandra F. Simmons, Ph.D.

Director Center for Quality Aging Geriatric Research
Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Sandra F. Simmons, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She also holds a secondary appointment as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Vanderbilt University.  Her background and training is in clinical psychology and gerontology. She currently serves as the interim Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging ( and Deputy Assistant Director of Research at the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), Tennessee Valley Healthcare System Veterans Administration. 

Dr. Simmons has been the recipient of numerous grants to examine issues in gerontology from the National Institutes of Health and Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, Veterans Health Administration and the National Alzheimer’s Association, as well as various foundations.  Specifically, her research foci include clinical interventions to improve quality of care and quality of life for older adults in a variety of care settings including acute care, post-acute care, long term care and dementia care within assisted-living. Dr. Simmons is most well known for her extensive work in developing both quality improvement tools and clinical interventions to improve nutritional care quality in nursing homes. She is also known for her work related to staffing issues in the long-term care setting.  However, her most recent work focuses on interventions to improve health outcomes for hospitalized older adults discharged to post-acute care and examining dementia care quality within assisted-living.

Complementing her research endeavors, Dr. Simmons writes for the medical literature and has over 100 peer-reviewed articles to her credit, as well as numerous review articles, editorials and book chapters. Additionally, Dr. Simmons frequently speaks nationally and internationally on long-term care quality issues at professional and provider-oriented meetings.  Dr. Simmons is a guest reviewer for several funding foundations and scientific journals and serves on the Editorial Board for multiple top-tier journals in her field including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, The Gerontologist, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, Journal of Applied Gerontology and Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging.  She recently served as the Principal Investigator for an NIA R01, AHRQ and VA HSR&D grants, each of which included an intervention to improve nutritional care quality in community and VA nursing homes.  Currently, she serves as a Co-Principal Investigator on an NIA R01 and VA Merit Award to implement an intervention to reduce polypharmacy in hospitalized older adults discharged to post-acute care.  In addition, she also currently serves as the Principal Investigator on two Foundation grants.  Dr. Simmons provides training and mentorship for geriatric fellows, medical students and junior faculty with interests in aging research.