Maternal and Child Health Research Institute streamlines research at Stanford Children’s Health

The Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI) is co-leading a collaborative effort to make it easier to conduct research at Stanford Children’s Health, accelerating the incorporation of breakthrough discoveries into clinical care, a central goal of the hospital’s 2025 strategic vision.

Staff members of the Stanford Maternal and Child Health Research Institute (MCHRI) team outside of their 800 Welch Road headquarters.  

Photo:  Kris Newby

In 2019, the Institute formally established a Clinical Research Support Office (CRSO) within the children’s hospital. Its mission is to serve as a centralized resource hub for physician, nurse and allied-health researchers, as well as all hospital departments and service lines, to enable the efficient and compliant conduct of maternal and pediatric research. To lead this office, the hospital and Institute assembled a leadership team that includes Alyson Falwell, manager of the CRSO; Sijo Thomas, the hospital’s clinical research informatics manager; Mary Chen, executive director of the MCHRI and assistant dean of maternal and child health research; and Karl Sylvester, professor of surgery and associate dean of maternal and child health research.

A study intake process to minimize roadblocks

As a first step, CRSO is developing an online study intake process for initiating research at the hospital. This process alerts hospital departments and units about new potential research studies and allows them to assess the resources required to support them. This “no surprises” approach clearly defines which services are provided by each hospital group and whether they are feasible. This ensures that required hospital services are accurately estimated early in the budget development process and alerts investigators to hospital services that may be needed but that are sometimes overlooked.

Alyson Falwell, manager of the Clinical Research Support Office (CRSO), is working to streamline research at Stanford Children’s Health.

Photo:  Kris Newby

Support services that accelerate results

Given the complexity of navigating procedures within academic medical centers, the Institute provides centralized support and services for both new and existing investigators. This includes biostatistics and data management resources and access to a pool of experienced pediatric-focused clinical research coordinators. 

Through a strong partnership with the Quantitative Sciences Unit, the Institute provides investigators with access to an interdisciplinary team of data scientists who can work as problem solvers throughout a study’s lifecycle. In addition, the Institute’s research coordinators can be hired by the hour, or on a part- or full-time basis to support investigators and/or divisions for all phases of a study, from start-up to close-out.

Resources to fuel innovation

To support ongoing innovation in maternal and child health research, MCHRI offers a wide variety of funding mechanisms, educational opportunities and research resources for faculty and trainees. Details on its array of offerings can be viewed here:

The Institute is led by Director Mary Leonard, MD, MSCE, chair and professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Co-Directors are David K. Stevenson, MD, professor of pediatrics and senior associate dean for maternal and child health, and Anthony Oro, MD, PhD, professor of dermatology. 

For more information about conducting maternal or child research at Stanford, visit the MCHRI website or contact  

For more information about CRSO, contact