Toni Darville, MD
Scientific Director, Children’s Research Institute

In addition to Dr. Darville’s research, she also acts in several leadership roles within UNC, including: Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease, Scientific Director of the CRI, Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Pediatrics and Co-Director of the UNC MD-PhD Program. In these roles, it is Dr. Darville’s priority to:

  • Provide support and resources to investigators who are dedicated to pediatric health research and the unique challenges it presents.
  • Promote the success of junior physicians and scientists in the Department of Pediatrics through excellent mentorship and career guidance.
  • Institute and grow programs that enable feedback from senior researchers to junior faculty and fellows, identify and connect mentors with mentees and provide information related to resources available on campus.
  • Collaborate with peers both inside and out of UNC, including: The National Institutes of Health, Duke University, the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS), the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the UNC Faculty Development office.

Dr. Darville’s Publications


Suzanne Kennedy, PhD
Administrative Director, Children’s Research Institute

Dr. Kennedy has contributed to the development and implementation of a wide range of research programs, including observational studies, clinical trials, translational and implementation research using mixed models and basic science research. She has 18 years of research experience in the field of allergy and asthma, working in academia, professional medical associations and private companies funded through foundations and government contracts and grants. This experience lends itself to the CRI to assemble the needed infrastructure to drive innovation and help build:

  • Research faculty development and a pipeline of future pediatric physician scientists and clinical researchers.
  • Resources to support and provide excellent standards in performing clinical research.
  • Infrastructure to enable our researchers to focus on research, while the CRI provides the needed administrative tasks to obtain and complete that research.
  • Biostastical support for pediatric research.
  • Collaborations across the university and beyond, through an ongoing seminar series, pursuing large collaborative grants, and networking with researchers and the community.

Dr. Kennedy’s Publications


Ian Davis, MD, PhD
Associate Director of Basic Research

In addition to Dr. Davis’ research in the field of cancer epigenomics, he serves as Associate Chief of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, co-leader of the Cancer Genetics Program in the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC director of the UNC-Duke Unified Program in Therapeutics in Children, and associate director of the Cancer Epigenetics Training Program.

In his role as Associate Director for Basic Science he aims to:

  • Foster collaborations between departmental investigators and basic science faculty across the campus.
  • Connect early career physician-scientists with potential projects and mentors.
  • Facilitate fellow and resident engagement with research while training.
  • Together with the CRI leadership and the Education office, lead the Department’s annual Day of Scholarship to showcase pediatric students, residents and fellow research.

Dr. Davis’ Publications


Michelle Hernandez, MD
Associate Director of Clinical Research

In addition to Dr. Hernandez’s research, she is working with Departmental leadership to foster pediatric clinical research and community outreach throughout the Department of Pediatrics and UNC Healthcare. In her role as Associate Director of Clinical Research, she will:

  • Continue to build community outreach with community general pediatric and family medicine practices.  In this role, she will identify the types of clinical research studies that interest our primary care partners and benefit our children.
  • Develop practice-based research opportunities for pediatric researchers with community pediatric and family medicine practices. Practice-based research includes phase III clinical studies, pragmatic studies, and dissemination and implementation research.
  • Promote collaborations among investigators conducting pediatric research at UNC and connect pediatric researchers with primary care practices with mutual research interests and goals.
  • Assist pediatric researchers in relaying their research findings to the primary care practices, parents, and community stakeholders.
  • Develop and promote pediatric clinical trials at UNC Children’s through enhancing trial efficiency and clinical relevance by using existing clinical data infrastructures to support research efforts.
  • Provide mentorship to early-career physician-scientists interested in clinical research.

Dr. Hernandez’s Publications


Ilona Jaspers, PhD
Associate Director of Scientific Development

In addition to Dr. Jaspers’ research, she is working within the CRI and the Department of Pediatrics to promote the academic growth of early career investigators through mentorship and scientific development. These efforts include:

  • Providing input to junior faculty regarding appropriate projects and mentors as needed, including process mentorship via the CRI’s Pediatric Scholars Program.
  • Directing early career investigators and fellows to appropriate and engaging research projects.
  • Helping researchers navigate and utilize the numerous resources throughout the School of Medicine and UNC.
  • Assisting early career investigators with networking with other investigators to establish new collaborations

Dr. Jaspers’ Publications