Office of Faculty Development and Diversity

Hannah Valantine, MD

Hannah Valantine, MDHannah Valantine, MD
Senior Associate Dean & Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine

Hannah Valantine, one of five children, was born in Gambia, West Africa. When she was 13 years old, her family moved to London where her father served as Gambia's ambassador to the United Kingdom. Valantine attended an all girls' school before enrolling in London University to study biochemistry. "I thought the five-year training for medicine was much too long," Valantine recalls. However, the young student quickly saw the value her biochemistry studies would have in the field of medicine and changed her course of study.

According to Valantine, her decision to focus her training on the highly competitive field of cardiology was a surprise to those around her. "At the time, there were few women or minorities in academics. People thought I was mad," she says. Valantine was undaunted, earning the respect of her professors along the way. "I got a lot of positive support, enough to get me from one prestigious program to another," she says.

Still, it was a lucky break that made all the difference in her career. "I was passed over for a premier cardiology training program," she explains. "Then the phone rang and I was offered a temporary position because the fellow who had gotten the offer couldn't start on time." That single opportunity allowed Valantine to prove herself on the job; she was asked to re-apply for the position, which she won. These early experiences taught Valantine the importance of leadership in enhancing diversity, she says.

Valantine graduated from medical school in 1978 and did her post-graduate work at Brompton and Hammersmith, two top hospitals in London in the field of cardiology. In 1985, Valantine headed for the United States to train as a fellow with top cardiologists, including Norman Shumway, at Stanford University. "I knew from the day I set foot here that it would be hard to leave," Valantine recalls. After a brief return to the UK, Valantine returned to Stanford in 1987. She was awarded a assistant professorship two years later, and rose to the rank of full professor in 2001.

Since then, Valantine has married and now has  two teenage daughters. Her husband, who worked at NASA for many years in information technology, is now a consultant who works from home. The girls enjoy competing in team sports and being regularly cheered on by their parents, Valantine says. The greatest fun is having them on the same team," she says. Valantine recalls the days when her daughters were younger and the whole family would travel to cardiology conferences all over the world. "I didn't realize how important that time was. Now they are too busy to travel," she says.

Valantine says her experience as a working mother has led her to make work/life balance a big part of ODL's programs for new faculty at Stanford. "I've had to find ways to balance work, academia and family life," she says. "You cannot ignore your family. You have to be downright zealous about your time," she says. Valantine says one of her secrets for using time wisely is to find a place where she can be undisturbed for hours at a time. Her advice to new faculty, "You can not possibly do it all at the same time, but you can do most of the things that you want to do over time. You have to make choices."

Learn more about Valantine's research.

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