Stanford Medicine magazine brings joy of discovery into focus

The new issue of Stanford Medicine magazine highlights fundamental research at Stanford and the many ways in which scientists are exploring the science of life.

- By Patricia Hannon

It’s strange. It’s surprising. It’s fascinating. It can also be tedious and infuriating. 

But talk to people who spend their careers uncovering the mysteries of life through the lens of a microscope, and they’ll likely say there isn’t anything they’d rather do. That’s because, even as their work is rife with opportunity for failure, one thing isn’t in question: Fundamental research is really cool. 

In the latest issue of Stanford Medicine, you’ll meet current and future scientists with a passion for research and discovery. You’ll see what’s possible when their discoveries translate into cures for some of our most devastating diseases. You’ll also learn that some are as passionate about instilling a love of science in future generations as they are about research itself.

One story looks at how the MD program was overhauled to encourage more medical students to pursue research. In the article, Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, describes the students, faculty and Nobel laureates who developed the curriculum as “true innovators in medical education.” 

“Their efforts will facilitate pursuits of fundamental discovery that further our precision health vision, provide our students with a more flexible and distinctive learning experience, and expedite the preparation of physician-scientists to become leaders in biomedical investigation,” Minor said.  

Many of the stories in this issue show how the thrill of discovery is being realized at Stanford Medicine and beyond: 

  • A roundup of basic biology research puts tiny organelles, tadpole tails and flesh-ravaging parasites at center stage to illustrate how some of the curiosity-driven biology under investigation at Stanford is fueling the future of medical discovery. 
  • The team members in the neuroscience lab of Miriam Goodman, PhD, are studying tiny worms to better understand our sense of touch, but the plans and dreams that brought them into science in the first place are likely to lead them in new directions. Graduate student Joy Franco discusses the research in an accompanying podcast.
  • Brianna Rivera was nervous and a bit intimidated when she entered FAST, a high school biology program run by Stanford graduate students who act as mentors and aim to spark a passion for science in their disciples. Soon, Rivera became known on her high school campus as “the girl who loves science.” She’s now a college freshman studying biomedical engineering. A video about her and the program accompanies the story online.
  • National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, MD, still loves to slip into his lab to catch up on research there. “The opportunity to not just oversee what’s happening in the research community, but also to participate, at least in a small way, drives me to get up in the morning,” he said in a Q&A with podcast host Paul Costello.
  • Two neurosurgical residents traded in their scrubs for lab coats so they could research how deadly brain tumors in children develop and try to find an effective treatment. They ended up joining the Stanford lab of developmental biologist Matthew Scott, PhD, and identified a potential new drug therapy that is now in a clinical trial.
  • When Provenge, a drug developed out of the Stanford lab of Edgar Engleman, MD, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 as the first immunotherapy cancer drug for use in patients, it helped set the stage for a revolution in cancer treatment. But the path to wide acceptance for the concept was a rough one. Now the drug is undergoing new testing and analysis.  

Also in this issue, in an excerpt from her book The Unspeakable Mind and in an accompanying podcast, Stanford psychiatrist Shaili Jain, MD, shares what she’s learned about the legacy of trauma in our lives, and about how to treat people with PTSD. And two young brothers beat the odds and are able to undergo successful stem cell transplants to halt the symptoms of a rare genetic disease called IPEX syndrome. 

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

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

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