Established in 2009, the Maternal and Child Health Research Institute mobilizes Stanford discoveries and expertise to improve healthier lives for expectant mothers and children. (Photo Credit: Toni Bird Photography courtesy of Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health)

Advancing research to solve the greatest health challenges facing pregnant women and children

From medicine to biosciences to engineering, the breadth and depth of Stanford expertise is unmatched when it comes to tackling the health problems of children and expectant mothers. Our Stanford physician-scientists are at the forefront of discoveries and are actively translating them to benefit children’s health. The ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between transformational discovery and cures that can save lives.  

Our successes are made possible largely through the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI), built on the foundational support of visionary donors who recognized the Institute’s potential to accelerate innovative maternal and child health research across Stanford University. Using targeted funding, both institutional and philanthropic, MCHRI’s strategic goals are to:  

  • Focus Stanford’s intellectual talent on solving the greatest health challenges facing expectant mothers and children
  • Increase the number of future academic leaders dedicated to these problems
  • Accelerate innovative research to make transformational discoveries
  • Enable the translation of our discoveries into action, and
  • Promote maternal and pediatric health and well-being, nationally and globally

MCHRI creates better lives for children and mothers by increasing high-risk, high-reward research, and speeding the most promising discoveries to patients. We make smart bets, using a rigorous review process to ensure investments go to the most promising people and projects. We invest in people, especially young investigators. The vast majority of scarce NIH funding goes to late-stage research and typically to older investigators. Our brilliant young scientists – some of our boldest thinkers – have the least access to resources to test their ideas. The bulk of MCHRI funding is increasingly targeted to early-career fellows, post-docs, and faculty to provide resources of time to think and funds to take risks.

We have made it a priority to catalyze cross-boundary research and to actively advocate for a maternal and child health perspective across all Centers and Institutes in the School of Medicine.

As the innovation engine of Lucille Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, MCHRI is a powerful magnet that draws together the seven schools at Stanford University. We have made it a priority to catalyze cross-boundary research and to actively advocate for a maternal and child health perspective across all Centers and Institutes in the School of Medicine.

We are proud that SPARK, the Byers Center for Biodesign, and the Center for Innovation in Global Health have strong portfolios of maternal and child health-related projects and discoveries. Through special grants only offered to faculty teams from multiple disciplines, we bring together top minds from medicine, biosciences, engineering, computer sciences, psychology, social policy, and other disciplines.  

The MCHRI annual and ten-year reports provide countless compelling examples of the return on the continuous and foundational investments. We look forward to sharing future discoveries fueled by MCHRI.

MCHRI Leadership

Mary Leonard, MD, MSCE
Director, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute; Chair of Pediatrics, Stanford School of Medicine; Physician-In-Chief, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

Anthony Oro, MD, PhD
Co-Director, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute; Professor Of Dermatology

David K. Stevenson, MD
Co-Director, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute; Senior Associate Dean for Maternal & Child Health, Stanford School of Medicine; Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatal & Developmental Medicine)

Mary M. Chen, MS, MBA
Executive Director, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute, Assistant Dean, Maternal and Child Health Research, Stanford School of Medicine

Anisha Patel, MD, MSPH, MSHS
Director, Community-Engaged Research, Maternal and Child Health Research Institute; Professor, Pediatrics (General Pediatrics)

Karl Sylvester, MD 
Director, Clinical Research Support Office, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute; Associate Dean, Maternal and Child Health Research and Professor of Surgery (Pediatric Surgery), Stanford School of Medicine

Grant Wells, MS
Director, Innovation and Development, Stanford Maternal & Child Health Research Institute