A photo of Carley L. Riley.

Attending Physician, Division of Critical Care Medicine

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics


Board Certified

My Biography & Research


My clinical specialty is pediatric critical care. Many people and experiences inspired me to first become a pediatrician, then a pediatric critical care physician, and then a researcher as well. In doing so, these people and experiences have helped me realize my life purpose and motivated me to work with others to change the world for the better.

I am dedicated to improving well-being and reducing related inequities by developing and implementing evidence-driven interventions within multidisciplinary collaborations. I seek to understand and cultivate the conditions and systems that address social adversities and health disparities in ways that help people and communities thrive.

In my research, I focus on social and environmental factors that promote optimal health and well-being, across a lifetime, particularly for people and places with disproportionately high rates of social hardships and adverse health outcomes. Ultimately, I want to identify, develop and implement effective interventions to promote health and well-being and mitigate related inequities.

This ambition requires identifying novel indicators and targets for our most prevalent and challenging health and social concerns and developing the knowledge to inform interventions. My research areas include community health and well-being, social determinants of health and well-being, equity, co-production, community science and cross-sector intervention.

In medical school, I glimpsed the power of both place and policy in creating health, well-being and equity. Then, in public policy school, I saw that others shared my ambition for creating the conditions in which people would live their best possible lives, including the fields of education, environment, international relations and more. I began to understand the value and need for cross-sector collaboration to change the world. From there, my interests evolved and further matured. During my years in the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, I learned the power of participatory research. This kind of research is co-created and produced with the people and communities who are the intended beneficiaries of the research.

My existing research portfolio has been developed intentionally in pursuit of a mission shared with Brita Roy, MD, MPH, MHS. In 2013, we crafted a shared mission statement: To cultivate a nation of thriving individuals and communities across all demographics from childhood through adulthood by building positive health assets through research, policy and activism. This research is only possible through the collaborative efforts of transdisciplinary teams of extraordinary people who bring their minds, hearts and hands to the mission of this research program.

I am honored to be the recipient of many awards, including:

  • Ann E. Nolte Writing Award, Foundation for the Advancement of Health Education (Co-author) (2019)
  • Academic-Community Partnership Research Award, Center for Clinical and Translational Science and Training (CCTST), Cincinnati, OH (Academic Lead) (2019)
  • Editor in Chief Review Article of the Year, American Journal of Health Promotion (Co-author) (2019)
  • Research Team Award, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati (Team Member) (2018)
  • Best Abstract Award, Co-Production Conference, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (Academic Lead) (2017)

I am board certified in Pediatric Critical Care, American Board of Pediatrics (November 2014), General Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics (October 2009) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (May 2015).

Clinical Interests

Pediatric critical care

Research Interests

Well-being; population health; community health; community-based research; multi-sector research; health services research; social determinants of health; violence

Academic Affiliation

Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Divisions

Pediatric Intensive Care Unit PICU

Research Divisions

Critical Care

My Education

MHS: Yale University, School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, 2015.

Scholar: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 2013-2015.

Clinical Fellow: Division of Critical Care Medicine, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2010-2013.

Chief Resident: Department of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 2009-2010.

Resident: Department of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 2007-2009.

MPP: UCLA, School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles, CA, 2008.

Intern: Department of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 2006-2007.

MD: Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, 2004.

BA: English Literature, Northwestern University, College of Arts & Sciences, Evanston, IL, 1998.

Certifications: Pediatric Critical Care, American Board of Pediatrics, November 2014; General Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics, October 2009; Pediatric Advanced Life Support, May 2015.

My Publications

Seven practices for pursuing equity through learning health systems: Notes from the field. Parsons, A; Unaka, NI; Stewart, C; Foster, J; Perez, V; Jones, NH Y; Kahn, R; Beck, AF; Riley, C. Learning Health Systems. 2021; 5.

The impacts of parent-child communication on left-behind children's mental health and suicidal ideation: A cross sectional study in Anhui. Lu, J; Lin, L; Roy, B; Riley, C; Wang, E; Wang, K; Li, L; Wang, F; Zhou, X. Children and Youth Services Review. 2020; 110.

Exposure to the US Criminal Legal System and Well-Being: A 2018 Cross-Sectional Study. Sundaresh, R; Yi, Y; Roy, B; Riley, C; Wildeman, C; Wang, EA. American Journal of Public Health. 2020; 110:S116-S122.

Neighborhood Poverty and Pediatric Intensive Care Use. Andrist, E; Riley, CL; Brokamp, C; Taylor, S; Beck, AF. Pediatrics. 2019; 144.

Associations between community well-being and hospitalisation rates: results from a cross-sectional study within six US states. Roy, B; Riley, C; Herrin, J; Spatz, E; Hamar, B; Kell, KP; Rula, EY; Krumholz, H. BMJ Open. 2019; 9.

State of the Unit: Physician Gender Diversity in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine Leadership. Maxwell, AR; Riley, CL; Stalets, EL; Wheeler, DS; Dewan, M. Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. 2019; 20:e362-e365.

People mover's distance: Class level geometry using fast pairwise data adaptive transportation costs. Cloninger, A; Roy, B; Riley, C; Krumholz, HM. Applied and Computational Harmonic Analysis. 2019; 47:248-257.

Do pregnant women living in higher well-being populations in the USA experience lower risk of preterm delivery? A cross-sectional study. Riley, C; Roy, B; Herrin, J; Spatz, E; Silvestri, MT; Arora, A; Kell, KP; Rula, EY; Krumholz, HM. BMJ Open. 2019; 9.

1066. Maxwell, A; Riley, C; Stalets, E; Wheeler, D; Dewan, M. Critical Care Medicine. 2019; 47.

Emotion regulation moderates the association between chronic stress and cardiovascular disease risk in humans: a cross-sectional study. Roy, B; Riley, C; Sinha, R. Stress. 2018; 21:548-555.