Children’s Minnesota Research Institute team

Children’s Minnesota Research Institute plays an integral role in transforming clinical research into  real-world therapies that prevent and treat childhood illness and improve the quality of children’s daily lives.  CMRI’s programs and services help ensure that researchers throughout Children’s have the means and the opportunity to conduct safe, efficient, and ethical research involving children.  CMRI staff are also available to help investigators navigate all steps in the grant application and contract-initiation process, from concept development through award close-out.

For more information, contact one of our team members below for assistance:

Stuart Winter, MD

Chief Research Officer
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6990

Heidi Finstad

Senior Administrative Assistant
[email protected]
Phone: 612- 813-6739

Scientific investigators

Gretchen Cutler, PhD

Program Director, ED/Critical Care Research
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-7665

Dr. Cutler’s research interests include mental health/self-inflicted injury, social determinants of health/food insecurity, and adolescent health.

Dr. Cutler’s  current work supports emergency medicine and trauma department research.  Her studies include evaluating an EMR-based process to identify and reduce food insecurity among pediatric emergency department patients and improve community resource utilization, and improving outcomes for youth visiting the emergency department with mental health concerns.

Amy Linabery, PhD, MS

Scientific Investigator
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6204

Dr. Linabery’s research interests include the effects of sleep on recovery, headache, post-concussive syndrome, genetic risk factors, and neuroscience outcomes.

Dr. Linabery’s current work is in support of the  Neuroscience Institute’s research.  Dr. Linabery’s  studies include pediatric experience with intracranial MRI-guided laser interstitial thermal therapy,  and the objective measurement of sleep and physical activity as predictors of recovery after concussion.

Stephanie Eyerly-Webb, PhD: Mother-Baby Unit

Dr. Stephanie Eyerly-Webb recently joined Children’s to accelerate translational science for the Mother-Baby Unit. She will also assist the program in moving a backlog of all-but-published manuscripts into peer-reviewed publications. She can be reached at [email protected].

Shengxu Li, MD, PhD: Cardiovascular Research

Dr. Shengxu Li has extensive experiences in epidemiological research of cardiometabolic diseases and in statistical analyses. At Children’s Minnesota, he assists the Cardiovascular Institute with the scientific endeavors of its new heart transplantation program and with outcome research in cardiovascular critical care. He can be reached at [email protected].

Alicen Burns Spaulding, PhD, MPH

Scientific Investigator
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6223

Dr. Spaulding’s research interests include  infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance and stewardship, and outcomes in children admitted to critical care settings.

Dr. Spaulding’s current work is in supporting Children’s PICU and NICU research.  Her studies include researching the incidence and pathogen distribution of bloodstream infections among hospitalized children in the United States, a study analyzing factors associated with hospitalization due to severe influenza infection in children, and evaluating outcomes after a new protocol was implemented in one of our NICUs to improve outcomes for infants with ventilator-associated pneumonia.

Alicia Zagel, PhD

Scientific Investigator
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6851

Dr. Zagel’s research interests include pediatric injury/injury prevention, child abuse, interfacility transport, and pediatric trauma.

Dr. Zagel’s current work is in support of Emergency Department/Trauma research.  Her current studies include unintentional injuries in primary and secondary schools in the United States and assessment of a new pediatric-specialty interfacility ground transport team.

Design and analytics team

Mike Finch, PhD

Research Projects and Analytics Manager
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6366

Dr. Finch is widely known for his work studying the cost, quality, and financing of health care in public and private markets, and in long-term and integrative care. He has received dozens of sponsored grants and contracts, including the Health Care Financing Administration’s National Post Acute Care project, the Design and Evaluation of the Second Generation Social HMO demonstration, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality funded Value-Based Contracting: Understanding What’s Behind the Hospital Volume-Outcome Link, the National Institute of Mental Health and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development- funded Youth Development Survey, the National Institute on Aging-funded Evaluation of the

Minnesota Medicaid Demonstration, and the Evaluation of the Minnesota Health Care Homes Demonstration.

Dr. Finch has co-authored three books and over 100 peer-reviewed articles. His recent studies and manuscripts have examined the effects of surgical volume on outcomes in hospitals, guideline performance for diabetes, cost and utilization in heath care homes, techniques of risk adjustment, and the effectiveness of integrative care in reducing anxiety and pain

Daniel Lee

Dr. Lee is interested in examining the underlying biological, psychological, and social mechanisms underlying the relation between racism and health. He is also interested in examining how socio-cultural protective factors (e.g., religiosity, racial identity) promote resilience within the context of racism-related stress. Lastly, Dr. Lee is interested in evaluating public health interventions that focus on positive youth development and health. He leverages methods from structural equation modeling, latent growth modeling, mixed effect modeling, measurement theories (e.g., item response theory), and other longitudinal approaches (e.g., time series analysis) in his work.

Dr. Lee’s current research projects include examining psychological and social pathways linking racial discrimination to stress biology. He is also interested in examining how experiences of racial discrimination shape health behaviors and outcomes across the life span.

Dave Watson, PhD

[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6775

Dr. Watson is interested in comparative studies that seek to infer causal associations, whether from observational data or randomized experiments.  In observational studies, his work tries to design the comparison groups to replicate a randomized experiment, insofar as balancing observed potential confounding variables.   In randomized experiments, he is interested in situations that attempt to control for post intervention variables, for example whether or not patients complied with their assigned intervention.

Dr. Watson’s current projects include placental blood as a replacement source for admission blood cultures for the diagnosis of sepsis in newborns admitted to the NICU, postcardiotomy parasternal nerve block with bupivacaine usage in pediatric patients, assessment of empiric vancomycin dosing efficacy, and pain experience following implementation of a system-wide protocol to eliminate or decrease pain caused by needles.

Kristen Griffin, MA, MPH

Scientific and Technical Writer
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6305

Kristen’s research interests include birth and perinatal care, health literacy, patient experience, and qualitative research.

Her expertise includes writing, editing, literature review, manuscript revisions.

Amanda Nickel, MPH

Health Services Research Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-7651

Amanda’s research interests research interests include observational methodology, geospatial analysis, and health disparities.   She provides support for several projects including  enteral tube feeding in children with medulloblastoma and supratentorial PNET, incidence of peanut aspirations, and procalcitonin as a biomarker for septic arthritis.)

Her expertise includes database design/management and analysis.

Clinical research managers

Pauline Mitby

Clinical Research Manager
Cancer and Blood Disorders Program
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6132

Heidi Vander Velden, MS, CCRP

Clinical Research Manager
Cardiovascular/critical care research, Emergency medicine and trauma
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-7892

Christine Benoit, CCRP

Clinical Research Manager
Cystic fibrosis, Primary ciliary dyskinesia, Diabetes and endocrinology
[email protected]
Phone: 651-220-6254

Research administration

Camerone Bey

Director, Research & Sponsored Programs
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-7628
Expertise: Contract and budget compliance, human resources

Angela Plaisance

Grants and Contracts Specialist III
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6142
Expertise: Serves departments:  ED/Trauma, CVCC, Cystic Fibrosis, Diabetes/Endocrinology. Pre-Award activities including grant, budget development and contract review and negotiation

Wendi Heuermann

Grants and Contracts Specialist III
[email protected]
Phone: 612-813-6303
Expertise: Serves departments:  MCRC, Neonatal, Pain and Palliative Care, Cancer and Blood Disorders, Genetics. PreAward activities including grant,  budget development and contract review and negotiation