The Engine that Drives Research & Innovation

At Stanford University’s Department of Emergency Medicine, pursuing knowledge is a collaborative effort. An ecosystem of resources propels faculty, fellows, and residents to advance innovation, and attendings benefit from a reduced clinical shift load that enables them to engage in research.

Learn about the three pillars of our research enterprise:

  • Stanford EM Partnership Program (STEPP)
  • Clinical Research Unit
  • Specialized Support Staff

Stanford Emergency Medicine Partnership Program

The Stanford Emergency Medicine Partnership Program (STEPP) is a structured system for sourcing, evaluating, and executing partnerships between the Stanford Department of Emergency Medicine and external innovators. A team of emergency medicine physicians oversees a multi-stage application process that ensures alignment and fit between the department and the applicant’s mission, operations, needs, and viability.

Applicants are drawn mostly from industry-funded researchers focused on key areas of technological advancement, including:

  • Medical devices
  • Digital health
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Health care at home
  • Remote patient monitoring

Following an initial screening call, applicants face an in-depth interview from subject-matter emergency medicine physicians with experience in relevant areas such as AI or traumatic brain injury. Most of the physicians on the team also have a strong background in innovation and business development.

The screening process is similar to those used by venture capitalists, and assesses multiple variables including the quality of the research team; the product’s scope, uniqueness, and application in the emergency medicine landscape; and evidence of a strong business model.

Less than 6% of applicants progress to a partnership with the Department of Emergency Medicine. For the few who do, Stanford’s world-class researchers provide ongoing guidance on study execution and evaluation.

The wide range of applicants ensures that STEPP’s core group of faculty is immersed in acute care technology. And while the team is focused on innovations to improve care, they are looking for a solution, not the only solution. STEPP also gravitates toward newer or smaller companies where a partnership with Stanford can have a large impact.

Collaborators to date include:

  • BrainScope: Decision support for traumatic brain injury
  • Shyld AI: AI-enabled infection prevention
  • Prenosis: AI-based biomarker discoveries
  • PyrAmes: Continuous blood pressure monitoring


Clinical Research Unit

Stanford’s Department of Emergency Medicine created the Clinical Research Unit (CRU) to convene a team focused on advancing the science of precision emergency medicine while ensuring patient safety and data integrity.

Clinical research comprises studies that enroll human participants in Stanford emergency settings, typically within the adult and pediatric emergency departments (EDs). Because clinical research demands unique planning, implementation, collaboration, and follow-up, the CRU provides specialized support to researchers and liaisons with hospital departments and leadership. A research manager and four coordinators provide support on human subject research throughout the lifecycle of a study, on the project management side (assisting with protocol development, budgeting, contracts, and IRB and regulatory submissions) as well as on the operational side (workflow development and implementation, screening and enrolling patients, training and informing nurses and staff). CRU staff work across multiple studies and can look for areas of collaboration, overlap, or challenges.

Recent and upcoming clinical studies explore:

  • Mild TBI assessment
  • Sepsis diagnosis and treatment 
  • Vaccine effectiveness
  • Cardiac high-sensitivity troponin
  • Stroke and neurological emergencies
  • Wearable vital signs monitoring
  • AI-based biomarkers
  • Antimicrobial stewardship

Specialized Support Staff

Faculty, fellows, and residents receive assistance in securing research funding from staff with expertise in federal grants, industry funding, seed grants, budgeting, post-award reporting, manuscript writing, and project management. Staff can quickly apply lessons learned from one grant to the next, helping faculty avoid potential roadblocks. The support team also liaises with Stanford’s Research Management Group to create clear pathways for physician researchers. A unique grant submission intake process rapidly identifies areas of needed administrative support so researchers are left free to fully immerse themselves in scientific discovery.

Researchers work closely with Stanford’s Quantitative Science Unit comprising 40+ experts, many of whom have PhDs in data science. Researchers can also partner with Stanford’s Emergency Department Data Analytics Committee, which uses informatics and machine learning to conduct research, monitor care quality, and employ artificial intelligence and machine learning via electronic health records. Medical editor consultants are also on hand to assist with grant writing and reporting and in-department data experts assist with data cleaning and sorting.

Faculty attend scientific writing workshops and fellows are provided an annual two-day research workshop in addition to their Master’s program. An emergency medicine intranet catalogs information on funding opportunities, data science, writing, editing, and publishing, medical editors, working with the institutional review board (IRB), and more.