Simmons Sisters Fund supports research benefiting obstetric health care

Lisa Simmons (left) and Serena Simmons Connelly

By Erin Prather Stafford

On average, one baby is born every hour at Parkland Hospital. Since 1988, the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UT Southwestern Medical Center has carefully evaluated health care outcomes for the births of these newborns and their mothers through the Obstetrical Quality and Research Center. This research guides clinical management to benefit both mother and child. The results of this research also have become a core resource for Williams Obstetrics, the most widely sold obstetrics textbook that is translated into 12 languages.

A new gift from the Simmons Sisters Fund to the Parkland Foundation and UT Southwestern provides $2.5 million to sustain and expand the obstetrical research program. Led by Lisa Simmons and Serena Simmons Connelly, the Simmons Sisters Fund supports health and social welfare causes.

“We recognize how important far-reaching research and a quality database are to maternal-fetal care,” said Lisa Simmons, a Partner of the Simmons Sisters Fund. “Improving the health care of all pregnant women and their newborns is a mission we wholeheartedly support. The data collected through UT Southwestern’s partnership with Parkland Hospital is extremely valuable and will continue to have a significant impact on a large portion of our population.”

For many years, the clinical care outcomes of newborns and their mothers have been closely assessed and studied, resulting in improved patient care in measurable ways. Some examples include:

  • One study measured pregnancy outcomes of women evaluated for false labor who were sent home. This study, made possible by nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives in the Parkland Labor & Delivery Triage Unit, showed that the criteria used to diagnose false labor at Parkland were both effective and safe.
  • Another study found that a modest increase in operating room temperature during cesarean section deliveries resulted in a fourfold reduction in the number of infants diagnosed with hypothermia.
  • Research also led to improved regimens for administering labor epidurals, which maximized maternal comfort while allowing mothers to effectively push near the end of labor.

“This gift is an example of the ongoing commitment of the Simmons Sisters Fund to support the most pressing health care issues faced by our society,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern. “Through the longstanding partnership between
UT Southwestern and Parkland, we are conducting high-impact obstetrics health care outcomes research with far-reaching implications for prenatal, labor, delivery, and postpartum care provided at institutions around the world.”

Dr. Kenneth Leveno is the Director of the Obstetrical Quality and Research Center. He said the faculty is energized and excited about ongoing research at the Center – with 23 health care outcomes projects underway or planned for implementation in 2018 – thanks to support from the Simmons Sisters Fund.

“This generous funding enables us to pursue new research ideas, recruit new clinical scholars, and attract the most promising fellows who are serious and passionate about maternal and fetal medicine,” said Dr. Leveno, also Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Our physicians believe that we have a responsibility to measure the efficacy and safety of what we do for our patients. Research support from the Simmons Sisters Fund will transform obstetrics for women and babies in Dallas and beyond.”


Dr. Podolsky holds the Philip O’Bryan Montgomery, Jr., M.D. Distinguished Presidential Chair in Academic Administration, and the Doris and Bryan Wildenthal Distinguished Chair in Medical Science.