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New issue of Stanford Medicine magazine examines well-being

The summer issue of the magazine delves into the question of how people thrive. It also includes a Q&A with author Laura Hillenbrand, who copes with chronic fatigue syndrome, on how she is leaving frailty behind.

- By Kathy Zonana

Christopher Silas Neal

Humans long for a sense of well-being. For thousands of years, everyone — from philosophers such as Aristotle, Epictetus and Buddha to the smooth-talkingest snake-oil salesmen — have tugged at the problem of happiness, well-being and what makes for a good life.

Despite those endeavors, there is precious little data on what well-being means and how to attain it. “The vast majority of biomedical research has focused on treating diseases, while a much smaller part has focused on maintaining health and maybe some prevention efforts,” said John Ioannidis, MD, DSc, professor of medicine and director of the Stanford Prevention Research Center. “There’s very, very little research that has tried to look at the big picture — what makes people happy, resilient, creative, fully exploring their potential and living not only healthy, but more-than-healthy lives.”

But that research is expanding — and it’s the subject of a special report in the summer issue of Stanford Medicine magazine, “Strive, thrive and take five: The science of well-being.”

The report, produced with the support of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, includes a Q&A with author Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote the best-sellers Seabiscuit and Unbroken while grappling with severe chronic fatigue syndrome. The online version of the magazine includes audio of the conversation with Hillenbrand on what it means to be well when you have been unwell for decades.

Also in the special report:

The issue also includes a feature about the Stanford Biodesign program’s efforts to take the cost of medical innovations into account, and an article on how age-related chronic systemic inflammation — aka “inflammaging” — may affect your heart.

The magazine is available online. Print copies are being sent to subscribers. Others can request a copy at (650) 723-6911 or by sending an email to

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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