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PSC alumnus Matthew Simmons on the front line fighting infectious diseases

Matthew Simmons

Matthew Simmons, MD, an infectious disease specialist and rising expert on COVID-19 at Berkeley County Medical Center, has been referred to by colleagues as “…a guiding voice for our health center, our community and our state during this time of coronavirus.”

He has been on the front lines providing information about the virus to the medical world, community-at-large and media since the pandemic broke earlier this year.

Simmons stated that since the age of five he’s wanted to go into the medical field, adding that his family doctor, Jim Bosley, inspired him to pursue his chosen field.  However, according to his mother, Janet, he had prior aspirations of becoming a weatherman.  “Matthew used to stand in front of the television and mimic the weatherman as a toddler.  We’ve always been thrilled that Matthew chose the medical field, and with the current pandemic, it’s comforting to know we’re in capable hands,” she said.

Simmons chose infectious diseases as a specialty because he found the field stimulating and challenging, “…and the volume of infectious diseases really got turned up this year,” he said, referring to COVID-19.

“We have never attempted to treat a virus with as many supplemental therapies as we have with COVID.  Historically, viruses usually run their course but with COVID many different types of research and trials have been performed to find a vaccination, because a vaccination is the single largest intervention besides handwashing that saves lives.”

Simmons also expanded on what Potomac State College has meant to him, his career and his life.

As a graduate of the Class of 2000, Simmons was well-acquainted with WVU Potomac State College prior to becoming a student there.  In fact, many of his relatives are not only PSC alumni, but several of them are also retirees of the College.

“My entire family had gone to Potomac State and received a strong education with a good foundation, and I wanted to continue that tradition,” Simmons said.

He expressed admiration for his professors at PSC because they inspired him to never give up.  The two professors who really impacted his education include the late Ann Davis, a biology professor who always encouraged him and had no doubts about him becoming a doctor, and the late Tony Whitmore, his English professor. “Tony has always been near and dear to my heart.  He pushed me, giving me the foundation that made me believe I could be successful, and he had faith in me,” Simmons added.

After earning an associate degree from Potomac State College, Simmons earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from WVU and a Doctor of Medicine at the WVU School of Medicine.  He completed his internal medicine residency along with an infectious disease fellowship at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va.

“I recommend Potomac State College to family and friends all the time. I had a great experience at Potomac State and want to see others have a great experience as well.  The professors and staff taught me how to be a college student and how to invest in my education.  By the time I transferred to the Morgantown campus, I was better prepared to succeed,” Simmons said.

So, what advice does he have for incoming students?  “Don’t be afraid to get to know people and make your mark.  There are so many resources available for students, so immerse yourself in them and in the people around you because it’s the people who make the place.  I’ll always be grateful to Potomac State for helping me achieve my dreams.”