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Stanford Medicine launches Department of Health Policy

Stanford School of Medicine’s new health policy department will be a hub for research and education on the causes of and solutions to health inequities.

Douglas Owens

The Stanford School of Medicine has created a Department of Health Policy, which will serve as an intellectual hub for health policy research at Stanford and will emphasize finding solutions to disparities in our health care systems.

“Faculty research will help ensure that health and other social policies are designed to reduce rather than exacerbate disparities,” said Douglas Owens, MD, professor of health policy and the new department’s inaugural chair. “There will be a particular focus on building a fair and equitable public health system; changing the health care marketplace; innovating how care is delivered; and advancing new social policies, such as paid family and medical leave.”

Students who were seeking master’s and doctorate degrees in health policy at the Center for Health Policy at the Freeman Spogli Institute will now earn those degrees through the School of Medicine’s new department. Having a department within the school offers students and faculty a stronger connection to the medical community and allows the department to increase its size.

Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine, said that Owens, the Henry J. Kaiser, Jr. Professor, has demonstrated visionary leadership, conducted transformational clinical and health services research, and has been an adept and productive collaborator.

“The culmination of these skills and others uniquely qualifies him to lead our Department of Health Policy, an intellectual hub that will span Stanford’s seven schools; address the interconnected problems of access, quality, cost and equity; and reimagine the relationship between public health and medicine,” Minor said.

The Center for Health Policy — which investigates how social factors, economics, law, financial and insurance organizations, health technologies, and personal behaviors impact the accessibility, quality and cost of health care — will remain part of the Freeman Spogli Institute. Owens will remain its director.

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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