Research Involving Stanford Student Athletes

Dear Colleagues,

After discussions with the Athletics department and with their support, we have formed the Stanford athlete Research Oversight Committee (SaROC).  There were several issues that led to the formation of this committee. Over the past several years, the number of studies that potentially involve student athletes has increased significantly.  This has, at times, been felt to over burden this study population - as they generally are very agreeable to participating in clinical research projects. We expect this to increase with the new PAC 12 funding.  There have been issues with reporting of abnormal clinical tests in a timely fashion, as well as issues around how those abnormal tests were communicated with what was perceived to be inadequate follow up instructions.  The studies are frequently underfunded and/or understaffed.  There have been expectations on the part of some PI's that the athletic trainers would function to recruit subjects and in some cases perform research related tasks.  We have a great group of athletic trainers led by Scott Anderson.  The group is very supportive of research that benefits the Stanford athletes and they are often happy to help.  However, they are extremely busy so it is important that their role is not assumed.  Direct communication with coaches has been another issue as they are not necessarily in the loop regarding other studies their athletes may be participating in.  

I think this preamble provides sufficient insight into some of the issues we have had to deal with over the past couple of years.  The mission of SaROC is to guide and support the conduct of high quality research with Stanford student athletes, while ensuring their welfare as research participants. SaROC will accomplish this mission by evaluating all ongoing and proposed research involving student athletes at Stanford University for feasibility, benefit to the student athlete population, mechanism of informing athletes/trainers/team physicians of abnormal test results and ensuring a plan is in place for adequate care and finally, achievement of objectives.

SaROC will also be evaluating Stanford proposals that will be submitted to the Pac12 for funding opportunities. Further information to come on this topic. SaROC has been working closely with the Stanford IRB to ensure that SaROC is notified when Stanford student athletes are identified as a target research population in any new protocol application. Investigators with protocols that target Stanford student athletes will now be asked to consult with SaROC as a part of the research approval process.

Currently, the committee is co-chaired by Ken Mahaffey and me. For those of you who do not know me, I am Chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine is in our department.   We provide the care for all of Stanford's student athletes as well as the San Francisco Forty Niners, the Golden State Warriors and in part the San Francisco Giants.  Ken is a cardiologist whose primary research interest is the design and conduct of multicenter clinical trials and analyses of important clinical cardiac issues using large patient databases. Current research activities include standardization of the definition of myocardial infarction used in clinical trials, the adjudication of suspected clinical endpoint events by Clinical Event Committees (CEC), and the efficient operational conduct of large multinational clinical trials. He was recruited from Duke (undergrad degree in Chemistry from Stanford) and is Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Medicine and a member of the Stanford IRB.  Other members of the committee include Scott Anderson, head Athletic Trainer at Stanford, Jason Dragoo, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Geoff Abrams, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, current Director of Sports Medicine for the student athletes and a former Stanford athlete.  

To support this mission, we have hired Ankita Dubey.  She will function as the Athletics Research Lead Coordinator who will support and coordinate the activities of SaROC.  We are working to create a list of research protocols that are currently recruiting Stanford athletes and we are also identifying future protocols for review.  Ankita will be reaching out to investigators conducting research activities with student athletes at Stanford. If your research protocol (future or ongoing) involves recruiting Stanford student athletes, please reach out to Ankita at for information on procedures and committee review. She will be a great resource for us all working closely with Scott Anderson to function as an interface between the athletic department and the research community.

We look forward to creating a robust enterprise and collaborative culture among the student athletes, department of athletic leadership, and investigators.

Please forward this email to researchers you know personally who may have an interest in research involving Stanford Student Athletes.  This email will be forwarded by me to department chairs for distribution to their faculty.  You were copied first based on your long standing relationship with Stanford athletics.


Bill Maloney and Ken Mahaffey