Stars of Stanford Medicine

Randy Soares


Department of Genetics
School of Medicine

Dinah’s Facebook #DiningWithDinah page features snapshots of well-plated dog meals such as goat filets drizzled with seaweed pesto and green-lipped mussels on coconut pillows topped with fresh oregano.

By day, Randy Soares directs the finances, hiring and administration for Genetics. At night, he hangs with his famous dog.

Randy Soares has become accustomed to the idea that he isn’t top dog in his family. That position is held by Dinah, his 150-pound Neapolitan Mastiff, a canine loosely wrapped in velvety, huggable folds of taupe fur. Dinah has a Facebook page with 2,098 followers and a family that spoils her with gourmet doggie meals featured on a #DiningWithDinah Facebook page. Dinah even has a Hollywood-style agent who promotes her for TV and print media opportunities.

Soares is aware that the thing that keeps Dinah from biting the hand that feeds her is genetic science. Her ancestors were fierce Roman Molossian dogs of war, but thanks to genetic know-how applied by generations of dog breeders, Dinah is a loveable family dog.

Genetics is also what keeps dog food on the table, as Soares’ day job is managing Stanford’s top-rated genetics department. As Director of Finance Administration, he makes sure that the department’s 300 students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and research staff are fully funded, well-equipped and productive.

Scientists are really good at thinking outside of the box. It's up to DFAs to think inside the box.

At Stanford, Directors of Finance Administration, called “DFAs,” carry the administrative burdens of departments so that the faculty can focus on their research. They serve as strategic advisors to the chair, helping to chart the future vision and direction of the department, with a focus on the future operational issues. They pay the department’s bills, balance budgets and file the financial reports required by funding organizations. They make sure research facilities are safe, functional and meet regulatory requirements. And they help hire staff and faculty and ensure that students in the labs are paid and are working well with their mentors.

“Scientists are really good at thinking outside of the box. Sometimes, it’s up to DFAs to think inside the box,” says Soares.

Soares joined genetics seven years ago, after serving as the chief financial officer at the Parkinson’s Institute and the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UC San Francisco.

“I started out as an accountant who could work anywhere, but over time, I found it more rewarding to do finance for basic research. At some point it became my specialty,” said Soares.

He manages all his DFA tasks with the help of a loyal team of finance and administrative professionals. “I’m very lucky to a have such a wonderful team to keep the department running smoothly,” he says.

Soares has worked hard to instill his employees with a customer service mentality. He reminds them that they are there because of the faculty and the research that they do. He coaches them on how to anticipate faculty needs, head off problems and adapt to the communications styles of each faculty member.

Another part of Soares’ job is crisis management. For example, when the fire at the Edwards building displaced a number of Stanford researchers, he volunteered temporary space in the genetics labs to accommodate some of the fire “refugees.”

It’s during times like this that Soares calls in his personal stress relief consultant, Dinah, who is boning up on her classes to become a certified therapy dog.    

Story and Soares photo by Kris Newby. Dinah photos by the Soares family.