University of Nebraska Medical Center

About CHRI

Dr. Anderson Berry smiling at some one across the room, other people talking and laughing abound her in a conference room

CHRI Mission

To provide every child an equal opportunity for a healthy life through leading-edge innovation and discovery.

CHRI Vision

To support talented CHRI researchers in innovative research and collaborative discovery to improve the health of children everywhere.

CHRI Goals

  1. Elevate and Integrate Research: Foster, sustain and integrate high impact pediatric research across Children's Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, partner institutions, and the communities that we serve.
  2. Develop Premier Investigators: Promote an environment that recruits, retains, and advances established investigators while strategically mentoring and investing resources to drive sustained growth of early-career faculty, our future leaders in child health research. 
  3. Ensure Our Discoveries Impact Child Health: Discoveries will be disseminated, discussed, critically reviewed and then integrated into practice in clinics, hospitals and populations to improve the health of every child and prepare each child for a fulfilling and productive life.

CHRI Leadership

Ann Anderson Berry, MD, PhD

Executive Director

Ann Anderson Berry
Don Coulter, MD

Director, Pediatric Cancer Research Group
Dr. Don Coulter obtained his Medical Degree from the University of Arizona, and completed both Pediatric Residency and Pediatric Hematology / Oncology Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the faculty of Children's Nebraska and the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2008, and currently serves as the Edna Ittner Professor of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. Dr. Coulter maintains a robust clinical practice at the Nebraska Medical Center while maintaining an active research career. He is the founder and currently serves as director of the Pediatric Cancer Research Group, a multidisciplinary collaborative team of researchers supported by the state of Nebraska and philanthropic donors investigating pediatric cancer in basic, clinical, translational and population based avenues. He is also the Lead Investigator for the Children’s Oncology Group grant at The University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Don Coulter
Ryan Foreman, MBA

Finance and Business Manager

Ryan Forman
Ellen Kerns, PhD

Director of Research Informatics
Ellen “El” Kerns (she/her/hers) is an assistant professor at the UNMC in the Department of Pediatrics Informatics and Health Systems Sciences Division. She has a BS in Biology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, an MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a PhD in Biomedical Informatics from UNMC. She also completed a fellowship at the Center for Disease Control’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. El’s research focuses on building, deploying and evaluating community and clinical decision support tools. She also serves as a data scientist for the Children’s Nebraska Care Transformation division, co-directs the Biomedical Informatics & Cyberinfrastructure Core of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR and is a deputy director of UNMC’s informatics service core entitled Research Education Administration and Development in Health Informatics (READI). Outside of work, El enjoys traveling the world and being active outdoors (e.g. hiking, biking, kayaking).

Ellen Kerns
William Rizzo, MD

Scientific Director

William Rizzo
Lisa Runco, MPH

Administrative Director
Lisa Runco received both her Bachelor of Science in business administration and her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She has been with UNMC for over 30 years, serving as department administrator for 4 different departments including ophthalmology, anesthesiology, internal medicine and now pediatrics. Prior to joining the Department of Pediatrics and the Child Health Research Institute in 2018, Lisa served as executive director for cardiovascular services and digestive diseases and kidney at Nebraska Medicine for four years. Lisa loves to travel with her husband, Mitch, and take care of their three dogs, Milo, Oscar and Beni.

Lisa Runco
Matthew VanOrmer, PhD

Senior Research Manager
Dr. VanOrmer completed his PhD in Patient-Oriented Research at UNMC under the mentorship of Dr. Anderson Berry and has research interests in maternal-fetal health, nutrition, mobile health applications, and public policies’ effects on community health outcomes. He has been with UNMC for 9 years, implementing and conducting numerous clinical research studies focused on nutrition’s impact on maternal-fetal health outcomes. Dr. VanOrmer holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a concentration in Management and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management. In his free time, Dr. VanOrmer enjoys woodworking in his garage woods, 3D printing, working on a variety of home improvement projects, and traveling with his wife Kaitlin.

Matthew VanOrmer

CHRI National Scientific Advisory Board

CHRI's National Scientific Advisory Board is composed of experts in pediatric science at leading institutions around the U.S., bringing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the growing institute. The National Scientific Advisory Board will provide input on CHRI strategies, objectives, priorities and other institute-wide matters. They will meet twice a year, once virtually this summer, and in-person at the annual CHRI Scientific Conference.
The National Scientific Advisory Board members are:
Chair of the Board
  • Margaret (Peggy) K. Hostetter, MD, Professor Emerita, Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, former B. K. Rachford Chair and Director of the Research Foundation, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Board Members
  • Phyllis A. Dennery, MD, Professor and Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Chair of Pediatrics; Professor of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, Brown University; Pediatrician in Chief, Hasbro Children's Hospital
  • Kevin Johnson, MD, MS, FAAP, FAMIA, FACMI, Vice President of Applied Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania Health System and David L. Cohen University Professor of Pediatrics, Informatics, Engineering and Communication, Perelman School of Medicine, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Joseph P. Neglia, MD, MPH, Ruben Benston Professor and Head, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota
  • Frederick Suchy, MD, Senior Research Strategist, Professor of Pediatrics, Children's Hospital Colorado, University of Colorado School of Medicine

CHRI Administrative Staff

Shamaere Ashby

Finances & Grants Coordinator

Kirk Grauf

Workstation Specialist III

Chuck Koster

Communications Strategist

Chuck Koster
Jenny Mobley

Administrative Associate II

Jenny Mobley
Jaclyn Ostronic, MA

Operations/Programs Manager

Jaclyn Ostronic
Analisa Peyton

Administrative Projects Associate

Analisa Peyton
Amy Rezac-Elgohary, MA

Global Health Research & Education Programs Manager

Amy Rezac-Elgohary
Matt Sandbulte, PhD

Grant and Scientific Writer

Matt Sandbulte
Valerie L. Warner, BA, CRA

Finance and Grants Coordinator

Valerie Warner