William Rizzo, MD, CHRI Scientific Director

William Rizzo, MD
Scientific Director, Child Health Research Institute 

The Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) is committed to pushing the bounds of pediatric medicine to ultimately develop new innovations, treatments and cures – advances that can only come through clinical and basic science research focused on children.

The need is all too apparent as we walk through the hospital and clinics at Children’s and UNMC/Nebraska Medicine. Too many children are battling serious diseases for which there are few therapeutic options and no effective treatments. By leveraging our carefully-honed clinical expertise, natural curiosity, and the strength of existing and future relationships, our team of dedicated clinicians, investigators and educators believes it can deliver those critical breakthroughs – and help our young patients gain healthy lives.

Launched in 2018, the Child Health Research Institute was born of a steady and significant growth in research activity at Children’s and UNMC. In 2008, approximately a dozen projects were under study with a research budget of $3.5 million. Right now, over 250 projects are underway with a cumulative budget of approximately $12 million. By the end of this academic year, we expect to approach 270 projects.

Our focus and our passion currently centers on four areas of medicine: cancer, heart, infectious diseases and rare diseases. Each area was chosen based on our past productivity, the potential for future success and the availability of resources. Since working in isolation doesn't work, we embrace collaborations - the key to advancing the work of the CHRI – and the field of pediatric medicine. The Institute utilizes the clinical resources of Children’s and the University of Nebraska Medical Center(UNMC) as well as UNMC’s established skill in basic science research, epidemiology, genetics, pharmacology and statistics.

Our long-time partnership with the Pediatric Research Office provides administrative and regulatory support in addition to the research nurses and clinical coordinators we need to implement our studies.

Add our cooperation with the UNMC College of Public Health, which is instrumental in study design, statistical analysis and population-based investigations – and our collaboration with the Munroe-Meyer Institute and its expertise in genetic testing, clinical genetics, child behavior and psychology. All of these relationships – and the formalization of the CHRI – allow us to pursue funding we couldn't have pursued before, recruit a broader range of physician-scientists and secure our status as one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation.

Most importantly, they allow us to more effectively:

We’re doing a great job treating young patients at Children’s and UNMC, but the future of pediatrics lies in advancing the field, going to the forefront by developing new therapies, treatments and cures. We look forward to partnering with you as we realize this vision.

The ultimate goal of the CHRI is to have every child benefit from a personalized approach to medicine that results in a healthy outcome — and to have Nebraska become the healthiest place in the country to be a child.