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Our Research

Thanks to the dedication of our physicians and researchers, the dream that scientific breakthroughs will give doctors the tools and medicines to cure disease is becoming reality.

Anyone who has known a child born with a congenital disorder, paralyzed in an accident or challenged by a complex medical condition knows that hope and healing are inseparable. At Shriners Children's Northern California, our director of research, David Pleasure, M.D., leads doctors and scientists as they work to find new ways to heal children with complex medical needs.

Research programs at Shriners Children’s Northern California are designed to help give your child access to the most innovative treatment options available for their condition. The research we do is headquartered in the Institute of Pediatric Regenerative Medicine (IPRM), a collaboration with UC Davis Health. The program includes many of our very own physicians, as well as top international researchers.

Our physicians and researchers are actively engaged in ongoing research and are continually developing new and innovative ways to treat and care for children. The research areas we're involved in currently include:

The Shriners Children's Northern California research program is an integral part of the system-wide Shriners Children's research program, driving to find cures and treatments that allow us to provide amazing care to children everywhere.

Burn Research

female patient being X-rayed

Survival rates for patients with burn injuries have improved dramatically over the past 50 years as a result of burn research. Doctors and scientists at Shriners Children's Northern California are responsible for many of the advances in pediatric burn care. Studies we're working on include areas such as the body's reaction to severe stress and diagnostic tools that can be used at the bedside when treating critically injured children.

When your child comes to our hospital with a burn injury, our medical teams apply their years of clinical research and discoveries to their care. Shriners Children's current burn care research includes:

  • Individual response to drug treatment
  • Organ failure
  • Environmental influences
  • Bedside diagnostics

Orthopedic Research

female patient in wheelchair

Orthopedic conditions can cause mobility challenges that inhibit a child's ability to be active and independent. We understand how important physical activity is in your child's life, which is why our team of researchers is dedicated to developing innovative treatments for:

Shriners Children's Northern California is ranked as one of the top facilities for pediatric orthopedics in the United States. (Ranking together with UC Davis Children's Hospital)

Spine Research

toddler boy sitting on couch

Our pediatric spine surgeons study various ways to improve spine care, which allows them to use the most advanced care techniques to treat your child. Their current research focuses on:


Anyone who has known a child born with a congenital disorder, paralyzed in an accident or challenged by a complex medical condition knows that hope and healing are inseparable. The dream that scientific breakthroughs will give doctors the tools and medicines needed to cure disease is a real one. At Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California, David Pleasure, M.D., Director of Research, leads doctors and scientists as they work collaboratively to find new ways to heal children with complex medical needs. Research studies are headquartered in the Institute of Pediatric Regenerative Medicine (IPRM), a joint project of Shriners Hospitals for Children and the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. Located inside the Northern California Shriners Hospital, the IPRM is home to an international team of scientists devoted to bringing discoveries from the research laboratory to the bedside.
View Transcript

David Pleasure, MD:

Shriners Northern California has a number of different clinical programs; one in burns, one in orthopedics, one in spinal cord and one in general surgery. The research side of things makes an effort to cover those areas as well. Our research is aimed at improving the care of kids with all of those.

Diana Farmer, MD:

The most exciting thing about being a surgeon scientist is that we can bring the bedside to the bench and the bench to the bedside all of the time. We see the problems in real time that need to be solved, and we take them back to our research labs and work on them immediately. That is one of the great things about being a translational scientist, as we call it.

Loren Davidson, MD:

The exciting areas of research for spinal cord injury include stem cells, regenerating neural tissue, and also electrical stimulation to the spinal cord in areas below the level of injury. Historically, we had thought that electrical stimulation below the level of injury, late after the injury, really wouldn't have much meaningful impact, meaning it wasn't possible to have much change in neurologic function a year or more after injury. We're finding that we need to rethink that because we're actually able to see patients with spinal cord injury regain function years after what we thought was a now permanent chronic condition.

David Greenhalgh, MD:

A lot of the research that the entire burn program at Shriners really advanced how we survive after burns and how people do, not only survive, but progress to as normal life as possible has been incredible.

Lewis Wentworth:

As a result of the research that's done by the Shriners Hospitals, we can provide a better service to our patients who are our children. They're our kids.

David Pleasure, MD:

So I think we have a catalytic function. We want to have a worldwide impact, not just an impact within the Shriners system.

Funding and Support for our Research Programs

Our research is made possible through funding and grants from:

  • National Institute for Health (NIH)
  • Department of Defense
  • National Science Foundation
  • California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • Shriners Basic Science
  • Shriners Fellowship
  • Shriners Clinical Research Grants

We're grateful for the generous funds provided by The Greater Sacramento New Car Dealers Association through their Accelerate Hope campaign. This program has pledged $1,000,000 over ten years to pediatric research at our hospital and will be used to establish the Fund for Innovation, which allows doctors and scientists to work collaboratively in their Quest for Cures.

Funding from our generous donors provides new hope and opportunities for children with cerebral palsy, spina bifida, brachial plexus birth palsy, cleft lip and palate, burns, spinal cord injuries and other pediatric conditions.

Research Committed to Helping Children and Their Families

Our director of research, David Pleasure, M.D., and his team of doctors and scientists, are devoted to researching new ways to treat complex pediatric medical conditions. This team is committed to finding treatments to help children live healthy, independent lives and reach their full potential.
female twins with staff members

Pediatric Orthopedic Fellowship Program

Our orthopedic team is involved in clinical trials and scientific research that they share in our Fellowship in Pediatric Orthopedics.
female patient with crutches

Advancing treatment by focusing on the cause

Physicians and researchers from Shriners Children’s Northern California and UC Davis Health work together together to develop innovative treatments for a variety of pediatric conditions. like spinal cord dysfunction, orthopedic disorders and burn injuries. Through this collaboration, we've also gained recognition as a leading U.S. orthopedic and urology treatment facility.
researcher looking at test samples

We Understand the Unique Medical Needs of Children

We provide vital, pioneering treatment from birth to age 18. Here, children have the opportunity to be evaluated and treated by doctors recognized as the best by their peers.