Ann Arvin, dean of research, to step down after 12 years

Arvin, professor of microbiology and immunology, will return to research and teaching after 12 years in the role of vice provost and dean of research.

- By Lisa Lapin

Ann Arvin

Ann Arvin, MD, has announced that she will step down as the vice provost and dean of research at Stanford in the fall of 2018. She will have served for 12 years in the role.

A professor of microbiology and immunology, Arvin will return to research and teaching. Provost Persis Drell, PhD, will appoint a search committee in the coming weeks and begin the process of finding a successor.

“It has been my great privilege to work with our faculty and their students as they pursue Stanford’s long and valued tradition of research and scholarship in the disciplines while also addressing major societal challenges,” said Arvin, who holds the Lucile Salter Packard Professorship in Pediatrics. “My primary objective has been to support the remarkably collaborative spirit that enables Stanford researchers to cross the traditional disciplinary boundaries in their search for solutions to the most fundamental research questions, and to the most pressing problems of the global community. I am very grateful to Stanford’s many knowledgeable, talented administrators, and especially our VP DoR team, who were indispensable to this effort. Having a chance to help create opportunities for faculty and students to explore their most promising ideas in an environment that facilitates their success has been a deeply rewarding experience.”

Arvin has made it her chief priority to engage with faculty directors to optimize the contributions of Stanford’s 18 universitywide interdisciplinary laboratories, centers and institutes, encompassing the life and physical sciences, humanities and social sciences. She placed an equal focus on the day-to-day implementation of Faculty Senate policies that embody core principles and shared values, including openness in research, academic freedom and the responsible conduct of research.

Advocate for sound federal research policies

Throughout her service, Arvin has also represented the university nationally to advocate for sound federal research policies, serving most recently on two National Academy committees to reduce the burden of research regulations and foster research integrity at universities.

“Stanford has been extremely fortunate to benefit from Ann’s deep understanding of the issues facing researchers, her strategic vision for new research avenues, and her dedicated and extensive national service in helping key federal agencies develop regulations and policies,” Drell said. “Ann is one of the most respected research administrators in the country, and she has been a tremendous advocate for enabling research here at Stanford. It is a demanding job and we are all in her debt.”

Having a chance to help create opportunities for faculty and students to explore their most promising ideas in an environment that facilitates their success has been a deeply rewarding experience.

The core mission of the research office is to facilitate the many diverse faculty-led research programs, which led to more than $1.2 billion in extramural support at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in 2016, through the work of seven administrative offices, together with the Office of Research Administration. Major objectives have been helping to provide state-of-the-art shared facilities that are essential for contemporary research — from research computing and nanosciences to digital humanities and the Stanford Center at Peking University, and most recently the Stanford-SLAC cryo-electron microscopy facility — and supporting the faculty and research staff who ensure the excellence of these important facilities.

Arvin’s work to help forge connections between researchers throughout the university is exemplified by the growth of Stanford’s interdisciplinary institutes. Her goal has been to support the dedicated efforts of the faculty directors aiming to create intellectual and physical environments that inspire dialogue across disciplines, enhance innovation and engage faculty and trainees from all seven schools.

“Ann has viewed her role as that of a supporter to all of Stanford’s research enterprise, and as an advocate to assure our researchers thrive and can easily collaborate,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, PhD. “She understands that Stanford’s remarkable success in research lies with our innovative, creative faculty, and she has done remarkable work in enabling them to work together, across disciplines, and to be successful even within a challenging environment for research funding.”

‘A visionary leader’

During her tenure, five interdisciplinary institutes were launched or became established programs, including the Woods Institute for the Environment, the Precourt Institute for Energy, the Stanford Center for Longevity, the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, and Chemistry, Engineering & Medicine for Human Health (ChEM-H); Spectrum, the Stanford Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education, was established with the School of Medicine; and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences joined Stanford. During this time, Bio-X, the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, the Stanford Humanities Center, the Geballe and Ginzton laboratories, and the joint SLAC-Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences, Photon Ultrafast Laser Science and Engineering Institute, and Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology have continued to expand their innovative programs.

These successes are owed to dynamic faculty directors and the commitment of the president, provost, and school deans and associate deans for research, as well as the development team created to support the interdisciplinary centers and institutes and their dedicated volunteer advisory councils, Arvin said.

“Ann has been a visionary leader of interdisciplinary themes at Stanford,” said Carla Shatz, PhD, director of Stanford Bio-X and professor of biology and of neurobiology. “She recognized the power and benefit of creating opportunities for research and training across the university long before many of our peer institutions, and she helped transform the way scientific research is being done.”

Arvin has also guided key research support enterprises, including the Office of Environmental Health and Safety; the Export Control Office; the Office of Science Outreach; the Research Compliance Office, which oversees research involving human subjects and animals; and the Office of Technology Licensing. The Office of International Affairs was created under her purview.

During Arvin’s tenure, new web-based tools have also been developed to aid research, including an online system for financial interest disclosures; the DoResearch site, which gives user-friendly access to policies and procedures; and the expansion of Stanford Profiles to share the research and scholarly interests and publications of faculty and trainees within and beyond the university.

Prior to assuming her role as vice provost and dean of research, Arvin served as associate dean of research from 2001 to 2006, and was chief of the infectious disease division of the Department of Pediatrics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital from 1984 to 2006.

Arvin received her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Brown University, her master’s degree in philosophy from Brandeis University and her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972. She completed her pediatrics residency at the University of California-San Francisco, and subspecialty training in infectious diseases at UCSF and Stanford.

Her principal research interests are human herpes viruses and childhood viral diseases and vaccines. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the American Pediatric Society. She is the recipient of an NIH MERIT award, and has been given honors for basic and translational research, including the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Distinguished Graduate Award, the Stanford University School of Medicine Dean’s Medal and Albion Walter Hewlett Award, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Research in Pediatrics and the John Enders Award in Virology.

Arvin said she looks forward to having more time for her laboratory research in virology and to ensuring that her successor as vice provost and dean of research has a smooth transition.

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

2024 ISSUE 1

Psychiatry’s new frontiers