Remembering Norbert von der Groeben

The Palo Alto photographer was a regular presence on the Stanford Medicine campus, capturing images of faculty, students, staff and patients. He died Dec. 4 at the age of 59.

- By Susan Ipaktchian

Norbert von der Groeben

At 6 feet 4 inches tall and with a camera slung around his neck, Norbert von der Groeben was hard to miss. And yet somehow when he was taking photos, he managed to become part of the background.

For nearly 10 years, von der Groeben was a regular presence on the Stanford Medicine campus, taking shots of faculty members, staff, students and patients. The freelance photographer was deeply familiar with the campus’ buildings and grounds, and could find just the right spot to match the tone of the story his photo would illustrate. His laidback demeanor and quick laugh instantly put people at ease, allowing him to produce portraits that captured their personalities. 

On Dec. 4, von der Groeben died at his Palo Alto home of an apparent heart attack. He was 59.

As we look back on the hundreds of images he produced for the School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, we wanted to share a few of our favorites.

In 2015, von der Groeben was photographing the start of the school year for new medical students. In this photo, Xylen Washington, 5, tries out the stethoscope belonging to his father, Gabriel Washington.

In 2014, von der Groeben took this photo of Brian Feldman, who was one of the inventors of a microchip-based test for diagnosing Type 1 diabetes.

In 2013, von der Groeben shot this joyful portrait of Gwen McCane, who was initially told the cancer that reached her liver was incurable. But a Stanford doctor provided  a solution: using microwave ablation to heat and destroy the tumors.

About Stanford Medicine

Stanford Medicine is an integrated academic health system comprising the Stanford School of Medicine and adult and pediatric health care delivery systems. Together, they harness the full potential of biomedicine through collaborative research, education and clinical care for patients. For more information, please visit med.stanford.edu.

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