M. Celeste Simon, Ph.D. is the Scientific Director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her bachelor's degree from Miami University and completed a Ph.D. in biochemistry at Rockefeller University in 1985. She conducted postdoctoral research with Joseph Nevins at Rockefeller and then Stuart Orkin at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Simon became an Assistant Professor of Medicine/Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago in 1992. In its first National Competition, she was named an Assistant Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1994, remaining an HHMI investigator for twenty years, until August, 2014.
In 1999, Dr. Simon moved to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and was one of the founding laboratories of the newly formed Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute (AFCRI) there. She was promoted to Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental biology in 1999, and full Professor in 2006. In 2007, she became the Scientific Director of the AFCRI. Dr. Simon's research is focused on how cells sense and respond to changes in the availability of molecular oxygen and nutrients. This affects normal development, physiology, and numerous diseases, such as the growth of solid tumors. The Simon Laboratory is studying how O2 sensing impacts tumor angiogenesis, inflammation, metabolism, metastasis, and overall disease progression. She is studying both animal models and cancer patient samples with the ultimate goal of developing novel strategies to treat tumors such as pancreatic cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, and colorectal cancer. Dr. Simon currently directs a laboratory of 20 individuals, including graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and research technicians. The AFCRI employs 400 researchers working in roughly 30 independent laboratories. Dr. Simon has received numerous awards recognizing her research, such as the Fouad Bashour Award for Distinguished Physiologists, Stanley N. Cohen Award for Biomedical Research, and Elliot Osserman Award from the Israel Cancer Research Fund. In 2014, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Board of Directors for the American Association for Cancer Research.