Progress, priorities, challenges are focus of State of Stanford Medicine

At this year’s State of Stanford Medicine event, the dean, hospital CEOs and a special guest shared their reflections on the strengths and challenges of the medical center today.

(From left) Leslee Subak, chair of obstetrics and gynecology, moderated a panel discussion with Stanford Medicine leaders Dennis Lund, David Entwistle and Lloyd Minor at the State of Stanford Medicine event on Sept. 17.
Rod Searcey

Hailing Stanford Medicine as “the epicenter of biomedical discovery for the world,”  Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, encouraged audience members gathered Sept. 17 at the State of Stanford Medicine event to strive to make sure that statement remains true decades from now. 

Discussing the basic sciences, Minor said the goal is “to maintain a vibrant and world-class, leading discovery engine here at Stanford.”

The event drew about 500 people to Berg Hall, in the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, to listen to the three leaders of Stanford Medicine — Minor, Stanford Health Care CEO David Entwistle and Stanford Children’s Health interim CEO Dennis Lund, MD — share their insights on the progress and priorities of the three institutions. Hundreds more watched a livestream of the event.

Minor opened the event with a discussion of the integrated strategic plan, which unites Stanford Medicine’s three entities in a shared vision of the future that is human-centered and discovery-led. He announced a new awards program, the Integrated Strategic Plan Star Awards, to recognize Stanford employees who contribute to the success of the plan. He also encouraged more feedback about the plan itself. “Moving forward, we’re really looking to you for engagement, feedback and involvement in the execution of the plan,” he said.

Working together with families

Minor welcomed technology entrepreneur Matthew Wilsey to join Lund and Entwistle onstage. Wilsey’s young daughter, Grace, was born with a rare genetic disease —NGLY1 deficiency — which only 36 other people are known to have, and which is associated with movement disorders, delayed growth, seizures and liver problems. Wilsey told the audience how, after physicians at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford had helped to diagnose their daughter’s illness, he and his wife, Kristen, partnered with their daughter’s physicians and others at Stanford Medicine and around the world to initiate a model for biomedical research into rare genetic diseases. Wilsey praised the collaborative spirit of the Stanford Medicine team he worked with to identify his daughter’s disease.

“The team at Stanford was definitely ahead of the wave on this receptivity in working together with patients,” he said.

Enwistle asked Wilsey what advice he had for clinicians and scientists in the room. “We often hear, ‘Well, this is how it’s done,’” Wilsey said. “And if it was done so well before, we’d have a lot more breakthroughs and cures. So, fight that mantra of ‘this is how it’s done.’ Push people and challenge that, and try to find new solutions.”

Progress, priorities and challenges

In a panel discussion moderated by Leslee Subak, MD, professor and chair of obstetrics and gynecology, Minor, Entwistle and Lund discussed a variety of topics that detailed Stanford Medicine’s progress, including both the opening of the new main building for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at the end of 2017 and the opening of the new Stanford Hospital, which, Entwistle said, is just 14 months away. “This will be the most technologically sophisticated hospital in the world,” he said.

About 500 members of the Stanford Medicine community attended the event.
Rod Searcey

They also discussed challenges, such as finding workspace for researchers. “No matter what metric we look at — research dollars per square foot of research space, productivity of individual faculty members — our faculty are incredibly productive given the space constraints,” Minor said. He described two new 200,000-square-foot buildings under construction: the Biomedical Innovation Building, devoted to “wet lab” research; and the Center for Academic Medicine, which will contain offices for faculty and clinical trial coordinators, as well as dry labs. The buildings are scheduled to open in 2020.

Subak asked the leaders to talk about their progress in diversity and inclusion, which the dean emphasized as a top priority for the School of Medicine. “I’m pleased that today both our MD and our PhD programs have roughly doubled the representation from groups who are underrepresented in medicine as compared with six years ago,” Minor said. “On the faculty side, we’re making sure we are constantly, as a leadership team, promoting inclusion among our community.”

Among Stanford Medicine’s challenges, the upcoming November ballot measures — Measure U in Livermore and Measure F in Palo Alto, both of which would give local city administrators the authority to cap, regulate and enforce health care costs — are among the most pressing.  Entwistle detailed the background of the ballot initiative, noting that not only is Stanford Medicine “firmly against the ballot initiatives,” but so, too, is the local government. Entwistle noted that the Palo Alto City Council “voted unanimously 9-0 to oppose this.”

Subak encouraged everyone to get out and vote on Nov. 6.

Wrapping up the event, Minor introduced a video that provided a look at the many ways Stanford’s precision health vision is now a reality, with the promise to touch 2 billion lives worldwide by 2025. For example, Stanford Medicine physicians have developed an emergency services system in India that so far has served 800,000 people, and free hepatitis B vaccinations and prevention projects at the Asian Liver Center at Stanford have reached 450,000 pregnant women, among many other collaborative efforts globally and locally.

Outside Berg Hall, both before and after the event, audience members mingled and visited several kiosks showcasing advances at Stanford Medicine, such as the Virtual Heart, which allows people to don a virtual reality headset and experience the human heart in 3-D, and Project Baseline, a multiyear project with Verily (an Alphabet company) and Duke University to gather human health data and build a model for disease prevention. One kiosk was dedicated to showcasing faculty, staff and students’ proudest moments, which were penned on sticky notes and displayed together in a show of colorful, collective pride.



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