NICHD Neonatal Research Network

About 4,000,000 babies are born each year in the US; 12 percent of those are born preterm and 8 percent are low birth weight. Clinicians face significant challenges in making informed treatment decisions, particularly for the relatively rare group of very preterm and very low birth weight infants at highest risk of death or disability. To study and address the major problem areas in neonatology, collaboration across many NICUs is necessary, through randomized clinical trials, large prospective studies, and outcomes research.

The Division’s history of innovative clinical care and clinical and translational research dates back to 1963 when, led by Philip Sunshine M.D., the Premature Research Center (PRC) was established with the support of the NIH. NIH funding of clinical research at Stanford was followed by the General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) and now by the Stanford University Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA), Spectrum, and its pediatric component, Spectrum Child Health.  

Significant Stanford Contributions to NRN Findings

  • Dr. Van Meurs was study PI for the Preemie inhaled Nitric Oxide Trial and is currently PI for a secondary study entitled: Prediction of outcome in HIE using amplitude integrated EEG.
  • Dr. Hintz is study PI for one recently completed study: Neuroimaging and Neurodevelopmental Outcome: A secondary to Surfactant Positive Airway Pressure and Pulse Oximetry Trial (SUPPORT) and an ongoing study: Extended follow-up at School Age for the SUPPORT Neuroimaging and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes (NEURO) cohort. Dr. Hintz was awarded a Mentored Specialized Clinical Investigator Development Award (MSCIDA) from NICHD in 2004.
  • Dr. Valerie Chock is PI for a secondary study to the Transfusions of Prematures trial entitled: Effect of Blood Transfusion Practices on Cerebral and Somatic Oximetry. This study was funded separately by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) through an ancillary clinical trials R01 to Dr. Chock. 
  • Dr. Alexis Davis was PI for a pilot study entitled: Cerebral Function Monitoring and Brain Injury in Preterm Infants: Correlation with Neuroimaging Abnormalities and Neurodevelopmental Impairment. Dr. Davis was awarded a MSCIDA from NICHD in 2007.

In 1991 the division under the leadership of David K. Stevenson, M.D., successfully competed to participate in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Development (NICHD) Cooperative Multicenter Network of Neonatal Intensive Care Units (Neonatal Research Network, NRN), and has been continuously funded through the NRN since that time. Established in 1986, the NRN was created to improve the care and outcomes of neonates, especially very low birth weight infants, through research.  The NRN is now comprised of 18 academic research institutions representing over 40 NICUs. While joint efforts are time- and resource-intensive, these crucial studies have substantively changed the way we care for critically ill newborns and led to improved survival rates and lower rates of morbidities. The NRN has supported longitudinal studies, aiming for greater than 90 percent participation at follow-up, which occurs at 2 years of age and in school-aged children. These efforts are important for understanding the long-term outcomes for premature and high-risk infants.

For a summary of NRN trials that had a significant impact on newborn care, click here

The research we conduct here at Stanford as part of the NRN was strengthened by the creation of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford in the early 90s, the Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services (1997), as well as expansion of the Johnson Center network of Perinatal Diagnostic Centers and NICUs throughout the Bay Area and the central California coast. 

Krisa Van Meurs, M.D. is the Principal Investigator (PI) for the U10 grant at Stanford and Dr. Stevenson is the alternate PI. Susan Hintz, MD MS Epi serves as the Stanford Follow-up PI. M. Bethany Ball, B.S. C.C.R.C. is the Network coordinator and is assisted by Melinda Proud, R.T., and Erica Velasco.

A complete list of our active Network clinical trials is available here. We work closely with the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics, offering families the opportunity to participate in trials weeks before delivery and enrolling infants within the 12-48 hours after birth.

The NICHD and NRN offer funding opportunities for junior investigators, helping to support a new generation of physician-scientists. Researchers are able to develop their expertise, using resources not just at Stanford, but also through collaboration with all NRN clinical centers. To learn more about our faculty members, click here.


Clinical Professor, Pediatrics - Neonatal and Developmental Medicine
Clinical Professor, Pediatrics - Neonatal and Developmental Medicine
Clinical Professor, Pediatrics - Neonatal and Developmental Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics (Neonatology) and, by courtesy, of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Maternal Fetal Medicine)
Robert L. Hess Family Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Harold K. Faber Professor of Pediatrics, Senior Associate Dean, Maternal and Child Health and Professor, by courtesy, of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Emeritus Faculty-Med Ctr Line, Miscellaneous
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