Video about terminally ill neurosurgeon wins top award

The film, which depicts a young neurosurgeon contemplating his impending death, received a Gold Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

A video about a young Stanford neurosurgeon’s imminent death from cancer earned the top award in a national competition.

The video, “A strange relativity,” received a Gold Award in the long video category in the 2016 Circle of Excellence Awards program sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

The video was an online companion to an essay by the late Paul Kalanithi, MD, published in the spring 2015 issue of Stanford Medicine magazine. In the essay and the video, Kalanithi described how his perception of time changed as a neurosurgeon-turned-patient facing a terminal diagnosis. The essay and video were published just a few weeks before he died of lung cancer.

The video was produced by Mark Hanlon, video director for the medical school’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs.

The judges for the contest called the video “superb on a multitude of levels.” They praised the video’s use of a variety of elements — from an upbeat, clocklike beat on a guitar to the varying of film speed — to convey the notion of time. “We also love how the crew captured the small moments of Dr. Kalanithi with his family, especially when they captured the side of his happy and sad smile while he was playing with his infant daughter. It made several of us cry,” the judges wrote. “It was a story and video that will leave an impression on us all for a lifetime — that is not something you can say very often.”

CASE is a professional organization for those in the fields of communications, alumni relations and development at educational institutions. It includes more than 3,600 colleges and universities, as well as independent elementary and secondary schools in 77 countries. To recognize the best work in these fields, CASE sponsors its annual Circle of Excellence Awards.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care (formerly Stanford Hospital & Clinics), and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. For more information, please visit the Office of Communication & Public Affairs site at

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