Richard Simpson, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Chair, Graduate Research Degrees in Nutritional Sciences

Associate Professor, Steele Children's Research Center, Dept. of Pediatrics, College of Medicine

ABOUT:

Dr. Simpson completed his training in exercise physiology and immunology at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland before spending nine years as a faculty member at the University of Houston. He studies the effects of exercise and stress on the immune system. Major cross-cutting themes of his work are aging (immunosenescence), cancer and spaceflight. 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 four NASA funded projects that aim to examine the impact of long duration spaceflight and extreme isolation on astronaut immune function and illness rates, and the effects of simulated microgravity on viral infectivity and host immune evasion. Dr. Simpson is also investigating how certain viral infections can protect patients from relapse following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in a project that has been funded by the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Simpson is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a member of the Psycheneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS), and an honorary board member of the International Society of Exercise and Immunology (ISEI). He is Associate Editor of the ISEI journal Exercise Immunology Reviews, and is on the editorial board of the journals Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Inflammopharmacology and American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
 

RESEARCH & INTERESTS:

Research Focus:

Dr. Simpson completed his training in exercise physiology and immunology at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland before spending nine years as a faculty member at the University of Houston. He studies the effects of exercise and stress on the immune system. Major cross-cutting themes of his work are aging (immunosenescence), cancer and spaceflight. Specifically, Dr Simpson and his team study how single exercise bouts can 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 four NASA funded projects that aim to examine the impact of long duration spaceflight and extreme isolation on astronaut immune function and illness rates, and the effects of simulated microgravity on viral infectivity and host immune evasion. Dr. Simpson is also investigating how certain viral infections can protect patients from relapse following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in a project that has been funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Simpson is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), a member of the Psycheneuroimmunology Research Society (PNIRS), and an honorary board member of the International Society of Exercise and Immunology (ISEI). He is Associate Editor of the ISEI journal Exercise Immunology Reviews, and is on the editorial board of the journals Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Inflammopharmacology and American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Link to publications:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1nExdq2JBun5p/bibliography/48032284/public/?sort=date&direction=descending

Active Research Support:

NASA NNJ10ZSA003N
“Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Microgravity on Salivary and Blood Markers of Innate Immunity”
The aim of this project is to examine the effects of 6-months space travel on immune function and latent viral reactivation in astronauts.
Role: PI

NASA NNJ13ZSA002N                                                                                                                                                   
“Characterization of Psychological Risk Overlap with Physical Health and Associated Performance in Isolated, Confined, Extreme (ICE) Environments”
The aim of this project is to examine the impact of extreme isolation and confinement on psychological and behavioral symptoms and the role of immune/stress biomarkers to indicate early onset of potential adverse effects.
Role: Co-PI (with Candice Alfano)

NASA NNJ14ZSA001N-FLAGSHIP
“The impact of simulated microgravity and acute radiation exposure on cytomegalovirus reactivation and host immune evasion”
This project utilizes the rotating wall vessel cell culture analog to determine the impact of simulated microgravity and acute gamma ray exposure on CMV infectivity and reactivation and its ability to evade the host immune system.
Role: PI

ORRECO (www.ORRECO.com)
“Immune Biomarker Profiling of High Performance Athletes”
This project will attempt to identify immunological predictors of overtraining/underperformance syndrome in professional sportsmen and sportswomen.
Role: PI

NASA NNJ14ZSA001N-MIXEDTOPICS
“The impact of an ISS mission on the anti-viral properties of T-cells, NK-cells, B-cells and dendritic cells”
The aim of this project is to examine the effects of 6-months space travel on the anti-viral properties of several immune cell types in astronauts.
Role: PI

R21 PAR13-146 National Institute of Health.
“CMV infection and NK-cell therapy for multiple myeloma”
The aim of this project is to determine the relationship between CMV seropositivity, NK-cell reconstitution and complete remission rates following autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant in patients with multiple myeloma.
Role: Co-PI (with Katy Rezvani)

Completed Research Support:

Texas Institute for Rehabilitation Research (TIRR)                            
“Immune and metabolic responses to FES cycling in patients with spinal cord injury”
The goal of this project is to examine the impact of a single bout of forced electrical stimulation (FES) exercise on in vitro immune function in quadriplegics and paraplegics with a view to using FES cycling as a countermeasure against impaired immunity due to spinal cord injury.
Role: Co-I

NASA Human Research Program                              
“Development of a Submaximal Cycling Protocol to Identify the Ventilatory Threshold in Astronauts”
The goal of this ground-based definition study was to develop a submaximal exercise test to measure the ventilatory threshold in astronauts. Results generated from this study will be used in an applied setting to monitor changes in endurance capacity of astronauts in response to long-duration spaceflight missions.
Role: PI

University of Houston Grants to Advance and Enhance Research (UH-GEAR)                                       
“The effects of exercise on the generation of multi-virus specific T-cells for adoptive transfer immunotherapy: Impact of adrenergic receptors”
The aim of this project is to explore beta adrenergic receptor signaling as a pathway to enhance the generation of antigen-specific T-cells following a single bout of exercise
Role: PI