Jerry J. Zimmerman, MD, PhD, FCCM, is an attending physician in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington. He has been a member of SCCM since 1985, serving on multiple SCCM committees and task forces. He was elected to SCCM Council in 2010 as the designated seat for the Pediatric Section. He is board-certified in pediatric critical care medicine, having taken the first board examination for the subspecialty in 1987. He is a charter member of the American College of Critical Care Medicine. He is coeditor of the textbook Pediatric Critical Care, now in its 5th edition. In 1992 he was appointed to the Critical Care Sub-Board of the American Board of Pediatrics and writes self-assessment questions for maintenance of certification. Since 1993 he has served as book review editor and editorial board member for the journals Critical Care Medicine and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. He has served as faculty for all SCCM pediatric board review courses.
Since 1999 Dr. Zimmerman has served as coordinator for the Annual Ron Lemire Northwest Symposium on Contemporary Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. Working closely with the University of Washington Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and Seattle Children’s Clinical Research Center, he served as chair of its Scientific Advisory Committee. He also became a charter member of both the Pediatric Acute Lung Injury and Sepsis Investigators (PALISI) Network and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Pediatric Critical Care Research Network. cochair of the scientific program for the 4th World Congress of Pediatric Intensive Care. In 2009 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Section of Critical Care Medicine of the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2012 he was recognized by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top doctors in pediatric critical care medicine.
Dr. Zimmerman obtained his BS in biochemistry in 1970, PhD in oncology in 1975, and MD in 1979, and he finished his pediatric residency in 1982, all at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. In graduate school, he studied protein chemistry and enzymology. His PhD thesis focused on the NADPH oxidoreductase associated with cytochromes b5 and P450 and the endoplasmic reticulum mixed-function oxidase system responsible for metabolism of numerous endogenous compounds as well as drugs and toxins such as carcinogens. At the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, he investigated another NADPH oxidoreductase, one found on the cell membrane of neutrophils and responsible for generating the parent toxic oxygen radical species, superoxide anion, involved in oxidative killing of microbes and neoplastic cells. From 1985 to 1998 he worked on the pathobiology of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. He conducted a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of inhaled fluticasone in premature infants to prevent occurrence and reduce severity of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. The trial was partially successful in terms of the primary outcome measure, but hugely successful in terms of igniting Dr. Zimmerman’s interest in clinical research.
Initially he wanted to be a general pediatrician, but his first pediatric rotation was in the PICU and he never looked back. He trained in pediatric critical care medicine at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center in Washington, DC, performing hemodynamic monitoring and intracranial pressure monitoring for a newly recognized disease, Reye syndrome. His first faculty position was at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York. Two years later, he returned to Madison to accept a PICU faculty position at the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital. In those days critical care transports were typically conducted with a reconditioned city bus that was effectively a mobile critical care unit. However, it did not fare well in winter temperatures. Even if the bus started, it could not be shifted into gear. And the bus’s movement and diesel fumes gave everyone motion sickness. So the university developed a helicopter transport system, initially employing Vietnam veteran pilots. Dr. Zimmerman accompanied all the transports until a nascent fellowship program began to dilute the transport service workload.
Dr. Zimmerman’s research has evolved to address diagnosis, treatment, and long-term outcomes of children with sepsis. He has worked on validating gene expression signatures to differentiate noninfectious from infectious causes of systemic inflammation. He is a co-principal investigator for the planned Stress Hydrocortisone In Pediatric Septic Shock (SHIPSS) multi-institutional, multinational RCT that will examine potential benefits and risks of hydrocortisone prescribed as adjunctive therapy for pediatric septic shock. For the past five years, he has served as principal investigator for the Life After Pediatric Sepsis Evaluation (LAPSE) multi-institutional, prospective, descriptive cohort investigation that will describe long-term functional status and health-related quality of life among children surviving septic shock and examine variables related to provision of critical care, individual characteristics, and environmental factors that predict the extent and trajectory of recovery baseline health status among children surviving septic shock.
Dr. Zimmerman notes that it is a privilege and a humbling responsibility to participate in healing in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable population, and the personal rewards associated with involvement with multprofessional critical care clearly outweigh a lifetime lack of sleep.