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Sylvester appointed an associate dean for maternal and child health

The pediatric surgeon and hospital leader will build support for Stanford’s clinical and translational research in child health.

- By Erin Digitale

Karl Sylvester

Karl Sylvester, MD, has been appointed associate dean for maternal and child health–research at the School of Medicine.

An associate professor of surgery and of pediatrics, Sylvester takes over the position from Mary Leonard, MD, who is now chair of the Department of Pediatrics. He joins three other associate deans for maternal and child health who represent faculty affairs, global affairs and obstetrics.

“We are delighted to welcome Karl to his new role,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. “He is an accomplished clinician, mentor and researcher who will bring his expertise in all of these arenas to the job of advancing scientific investigation in child and maternal health.”

Working in concert with co-senior associate deans for research Mark Cullen, MD, and Harry Greenberg, MD, Sylvester will focus on aligning the pediatric and maternal research portfolios of the School of Medicine. He will also serve as a co-leader of Spectrum Child Health along with Leonard and David Stevenson, MD, senior associate dean for maternal and child health. He will emphasize building on the existing infrastructure of Spectrum Child Health and ensuring an efficient collaboration with colleagues and stakeholders at Stanford Health Care and the medical school.

“Karl will assist in developing the necessary infrastructure resources to facilitate translational and clinical research in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for all pediatric investigators across the School of Medicine and university,” Stevenson said.

Sylvester is also medical director of Packard Children’s Pediatric Trauma Program, and since 2013 he has been executive director of the hospital’s Program for Fetal and Maternal Health.

His laboratory and clinical research focus on understanding the biology of disease in premature and newborn babies. Sylvester has established a network of academic children’s hospitals and investigators to discover and test specific molecular diagnostics of newborn diseases, such as necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis. He is widely published on the clinical care of necrotizing enterocolitis and on his group’s findings on biomarkers of disease.

 Sylvester earned a medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and completed his clinical training at the University of Pennsylvania, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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