Donald Simone named 2023 Professor of the Year

Headshot of Donald Simone

Donald Simone, PhD, professor and Director of the Division of Basic Sciences and Chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, is the 2023 Century Club Professor of the Year.

Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, announced Simone as the 2023 recipient of the award at Research Day on Friday, February 29.

Instituted by Dean Erwin Schaffer, DDS, in 1967, the Century Club Professor of the Year Award recognizes one faculty member each year for their outstanding contributions to the school in the areas of education, research and service. The award is one of the school’s greatest traditions and the highest honor bestowed upon a faculty member.

Each year, the honoree is selected by a committee chaired by the previous year’s award recipient, with faculty representation from each department and student participation from the graduate, dental, dental therapy and dental hygiene programs.

Simone earned his PhD from the City University of New York with an emphasis on behavioral pharmacology and pain before completing post-doctoral training in sensory psychophysics and neurophysiology in the Department of Anesthesiology at Yale Medical School where he studied the neural mechanisms of hyperalgesia. He joined the University of Minnesota’s Medical School faculty in 1992 and achieved tenure in 1997.

In 2001, Simone joined the School of Dentistry as Interim Chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences, becoming chair and achieving full professorship in 2005. Today, Simone remains as Chair of the department, as well as Director of the Division of Basic Sciences.

Simone studies the neural encoding of pain and hyperalgesia, in a combined behavioral and neurophysiological approach. His current areas of study include the mechanisms by which cancer cells interact with neurons to produce pain, mechanisms of pain in sickle cell disease, as well as new pharmacological approaches to treat pain. His history of collaboration has led to 128 peer-reviewed papers published and more than 15,000 citations. He has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health since he arrived in 1992 and has served as a grant reviewer for NIH  and a reviewer for more than 20 research journals.

In addition to teaching neuroscience courses, Simone has mentored junior colleagues throughout his career, both as teachers and as researchers.

“Simone is someone for a passion for research, collaboration and teaching,” Mays said as he announced the award. He shared that one colleague “described him as having an extensive track record of research collaborations across the United States and abroad,” while another “cited his extensive experience in leadership and research,” calling him “approachable and with a depth of knowledge that has contributed to him being seen as an outstanding researcher and mentor—one who is dependable and passionate about his work.”

Addressing Simone, Mays said, “Thank you, Dr. Simone, for all you have done and all you continue to do for our school, programs, faculty, staff and community.”

On receiving the award, Simone shared, "It's truly an honor for me to receive this prestigious award."

Congratulations to Simone on being named the 2023 Century Club Professor of the Year!