Stephen M. Downs, MD, MS

Stephen M. Downs, MD, MS

Jean and Jerry Bepko Professor of Pediatrics
Vice Chair for General Pediatrics
Director Children’s Health Services Research


(317) 278-0552 (phone)
(317) 278-0456 (fax)

Indiana Children's Health Service Research
Health Information and Translational Sciences Building
410 W. 10th Street, HS Suite 1000
Indianapolis, IN 46202-5140



General Pediatrics

Areas of Interest

Dr. Downs's research interests include decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis and their application to guideline development and computer based decision support.

Dr. Stephen M. Downs directs Children's Health Services Research and General Pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. He is the former director of the IU/Regenstrief Biomedical Informatics Research Training Program and the Indiana Health Services Research post-doctoral training program. He is a fellow in the American College of Medical Informatics. He chairs the Advisory Board for the American Academy of Pediatrics Child Health Informatics Center and leads their Partnership for Policy Implementation.

He received his MD and master's degree in Medical Informatics from Stanford University and completed an internship and residency in Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). At UNC-CH he completed a health services research fellowship in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program and was on faculty in the Division of Community Pediatrics at UNC where he held joint appointments in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Public Health. He was also director of the Duke-UNC Training Program in Medical Informatics.

Stephen Downs from Thomas Lewis on Vimeo


1980 B.A., Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado
1986 M.D., Stanford University School of Medicine
1986 M.S., Stanford University

Honors & Awards

1980 Jacob Van Ek Award for Academic Excellence, University of Colorado
1980 Summa cum laude-- Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology University of Colorado
1987 Campbell W. McMillan Pediatric Intern Award, University of North Carolina
1989 The Dr. E. C. Curnen, Jr. Book Award for Compassion and Skill in Medicine University of North Carolina
1996 Co-Author, Best Theoretical Paper, American Medical Informatics Association Fall Symposium, Washington, DC
1997 Nominated, Best Theoretical Paper, American Medical Informatics Association Fall Symposium, Nashville, TN
1998 University of North Carolina, Biomedical Engineering Teaching Award
1998 Elected to the Society for Pediatric Research
2006 Elected Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics
2009 American Academy of Pediatrics Byron Oberst Award for outstanding contributions to technology in pediatrics


Provider Clinics

Riley Physicians Pediatrics - Riley Hospital Outpatient Center at IU Health


705 Riley Hospital Drive, Suite 1300

Indianapolis, IN 46202

Main - 317.944.2801

Research & Grants


Dr. Downs conducts research in computer based decision support system. He is the originator and co-creator of the Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation (CHICA) system, a decision support system that improves outpatient pediatric care in several study clinics in Indianapolis. CHICA is a unique model for capturing data from patients in the waiting room and advising pediatricians in busy, high volume clinics. CHICA has been shown to improve care in a wide range of areas, from anemia screening to domestic violence to parental smoking cessation.
Dr. Downs also works in the fields of meta-analysis, decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis. He has applied this work to the development of clinical guidelines, including several published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is especially interested in how families and society value health outcomes in children. This work is relevant to the development of health policy around pediatric issues.

Finally, Dr. Downs and colleagues have conducted a number of studies through secondary analysis of data collected through clinical systems. This has included retrospective cohort designs as well as innovative data mining techniques.


Indiana Center of Excellence in Public Health Informatics (ICEPHI)
The goal is to advance public health informatics through the development of a multidisciplinary infrastructure: a locus for innovative research, education and practice.
Role: Co-Investigator
1R01HS018453-01 Downs (PI) 09/30/2009 – 07/31/2013
Computer Assisted Autism Care (CAAC)
The major goals of this project are to improve the diagnosis and care of children with autism through the implementation of a computer decision support system in primary care practices.
Role: PI
R01 HS017939 Carroll (PI) 06/01/2009-05/31/2012
Computer Automated Developmental Surveillance and Screening (CADSS)
The major goals of this project are to improve the developmental surveillance and screening practices of primary care physicians through the implementation of a computer decision support system that will overcome the barriers cited in previous research as obstacles to the implementation of standardized developmental surveillance and screening within primary care practices.
Role: Co-Investigator
R01 LM010031Z Carroll (PI) 08/01/2009-07/31/2011
Computer Decision Aid for ADHD Management (CDAAM)
The major goals of this project are to expand and modify an existing computer-based decision support system to include ADHD treatment and diagnosis guideline rules, and to evaluate the effect of the system on processes and outcomes of ADHD care in pediatric practices.
Role: Co-Investigator
2T15LM007117 Downs (PI) 01/01/1997-06/30/2012
NIH, National Library of Medicine
Indiana University/Regenstrief Institute Biomedical Informatics Research Training
Regenstrief Institute for Health Care offers a medical informatics fellowship program for MDs, PhDs, DNSs, PharmDs, and DPTs. This medical informatics fellowship is funded by a T-32 grant from the National Library of Medicine and prepares individuals for careers in academic medicine, the health care industry, and the health information systems industry.
Role: PI
Downs (PI) 10/01/2008-09/30/2011
Indiana Family and Social Services Administration
Medicaid Medical Advisory Cabinet (MMAC)
Under contract to OMPP, the MMAC provides medical advisory services at the request of the Director of Health Policy and Medicaid. The MMAC provides clinical expertise and medical advice across the activities of OMPP, including medical policy development and analysis, managed care, provider relations, and clinical quality improvement. Activities include this clinical advisory role as well as policy evaluation and data analysis and provider support and education.
Role: PI

Representative PublicationsView All Publications

Szczepaniak D, McHenry MS, Nutakki K, Bauer NS, Downs SM
The Prevalence of At-Risk Development in Children 30 to 60 Months Old Presenting With Disruptive Behaviors. CLIN PEDIATR 0009922813493832, first published on July 8, 2013 as doi:10.1177/0009922813493832
Papic JC; Finnell SM; Leys CM; Bennett WE Jr; Downs SM
Referring physicians' decision making for pediatric anti-reflux procedures. Surgery. 155(5):851-9, 2014 May. [Journal Article] UI: 24787112
Bauer NS, Stanton JL, Carroll AE, Downs SM
Children’s books as a brief intervention for parents with depressive symptoms and parenting stress J Behav Health in press (Published Online : Nov 15, 2013) doi: 10.5455/jbh.20130822051604
Bennett WE Jr; Hendrix KS; Thompson-Fleming RT; Downs SM; Carroll AE
Early cow's milk introduction is associated with failed personal-social milestones after 1 year of age. European Journal of Pediatrics. 173(7):887-92, 2014 Jul. [Journal Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural] UI: 24458583
Bauer NS, Carroll AE & Downs SM
(2014). Understanding the acceptability of a computer decision support system in pediatric primary care. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 21, 146-53. doi:10.1136/amiajnl-2013-001851
Bennett WE Jr, Hendrix KS, Thompson RT, Carroll AE & Downs SM
(2014). The natural history of weight percentile changes in the first year of life. JAMA Pediatrics, 168, 681-2. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.345
Downs SM
(2014). UTI and watchful waiting: the courage to do nothing.
Pediatrics, 133, 535-6. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-4158
Hendrix KS; Finnell SM; Zimet GD; Sturm LA; Lane KA; Downs SM
Vaccine message framing and parents' intent to immunize their infants for MMR
Pediatrics. 134(3):e675-83, 2014 Sep. [Journal Article. Randomized Controlled Trial. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] UI: 25136038
Oshimura JM, Downs SM & Saysana M
(2014). Family-centered rounding: can it impact the time of discharge and time of completion of studies at an academic children's hospital?.
Hospital Pediatrics, 4, 228-32. doi:10.1542/hpeds.2013-0085
Finnell SM; Stanton JL; Downs SM
Actionable recommendations in the Bright Futures child health supervision guidelines.
Applied Clinical Informatics. 5(3):651-9, 2014. [Journal Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] UI: 25298806
Hendrix KS; Carroll AE; Downs SM
Screen exposure and body mass index status in 2- to 11-year-old children.
Clinical Pediatrics. 53(6):593-600, 2014 Jun. [Journal Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural] UI: 24634433
Anand V; Downs SM; Bauer NS; Carroll AE
Prevalence of infant television viewing and maternal depression symptoms.
Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. 35(3):216-24, 2014 Apr. [Journal Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural. Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.] UI: 24633063
Klann JG; Szolovits P; Downs SM; Schadow G
Decision support from local data: creating adaptive order menus from past clinician behavior.
Journal of Biomedical Informatics. 48:84-93, 2014 Apr. [Journal Article. Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural] UI: 24355978
Carroll AE; Bauer NS; Dugan TM; Anand V; Saha C; Downs SM
Use of a computerized decision aid for developmental surveillance and screening: a randomized clinical trial.
JAMA Pediatrics. 168(9):815-21, 2014 Sep. [Journal Article. Randomized Controlled Trial. Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.] UI: 25022724
Warshawsky-Livne L; Novack L; Rosen AB; Downs SM; Shkolnik-Inbar J; Pliskin JS
Gender differences in risk attitudes. Advances in Health Economics & Health Services Research.
24:123-40, 2014. [Journal Article. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] UI: 25244907