Letter from the Dean

October 27, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

As the new academic year builds momentum, I am once again excited and inspired by the energy I see throughout the Stanford Medicine community. In countless ways, our faculty, students, trainees, and staff continue to improve human health—providing extraordinary clinical care, advancing medical education, and making biomedical discoveries for the ultimate benefit of patients around the world. It is my privilege to write with an update on the important efforts that are taking place at Stanford Medicine.

The hundreds of new students and trainees who joined us this year are now hard at work across our campuses. In our classrooms, a remarkable new group of 90 MD students is immersed in first-year coursework. Nearly 7,200 candidates applied to join this prestigious class, which reflects excellence and diversity in every regard. Our new students are Fulbright Scholars and authors of peer-reviewed publications. They are Wushu dancers, varsity swimmers, music producers, and cartoonists.

In the laboratories of our 14 Bioscience programs, an outstanding new cohort of 113 PhD students is focused on uncovering the mysteries of human biology. Coming to us from as far away as India and Myanmar, these diverse students—many of whom hold MDs, DVMs, MBAs, and other advanced degrees—exhibit the academic distinction that defines Stanford Medicine. And in our hospitals and clinics, the 408 exceptional new residents and fellows who arrived this summer are already serving our community, putting Precision Health into action by providing precise, personalized, and preventive care that helps patients stay healthy.

All of our new students and trainees represent the very best in their respective fields, with a broad spectrum of knowledge and skill that will inform their various paths toward becoming the great physicians, scientists, and educators of the future. We extend our warmest welcome to these immensely talented individuals, whose depth and breadth of experience will enrich the entire Stanford Medicine community.

Standing behind our students and trainees are the faculty who, while educating tomorrow’s health and science leaders, simultaneously push the boundaries of biomedicine by devising innovative new research, teaching, and clinical initiatives. I am constantly awed by both their individual achievements and their unwavering commitment to collaboration and partnership—among the core values of Stanford Medicine.

A shining example of our collaborative spirit is a new series of jointly sponsored, quarterly symposia that highlight the invaluable role of fundamental science in transforming health care. Organized by Biochemistry Chair Suzanne Pfeffer, these symposia have a dual goal: to offer students, postdocs, fellows, and junior faculty an opportunity to present their work, and to foster multidisciplinary collaboration on important problems in human health. A variety of critical topics in biomedicine will be examined together by basic scientists, translational researchers, clinical faculty, students, and trainees of all types, demonstrating the indispensable perspective that each brings to the table when answering human health’s most complex questions.

As our faculty, students, and trainees identify ever more creative ways to collaborate, our leadership has continued to lay the groundwork required to achieve our bold and integrated vision: to lead the biomedical revolution in Precision Health. Helping to champion this vision is the new Precision Health Committee, a distinguished group of leaders from across the university, school, and hospitals that is focused specifically on creating a plan for advancing Stanford Medicine through Precision Health. Under the leadership of Department of Medicine Chair Bob Harrington, the committee is establishing specific goals and milestones for Precision Health’s core areas:

  • Fundamental research and biomedical data science
  • Biomedical platforms, including: Cancer Biology; ChEM-H; Diagnostics and Imaging; Genomics/Omics; Health Care Value Science; Human Immunology; Neurosciences; Population Health Sciences; and Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
  • Clinical focus areas, including: Brain and Behavior; Cancer Care; Cardiac Care; Musculoskeletal Care and Orthopedics; Maternal, Fetal, and Newborn Health; and Transplantation

Precision Health gives us the chance to not just win the race against disease, but to win it before it even begins—to prevent disease before it strikes and cure it decisively if it does. I am exceptionally grateful to the members of this committee for helping us to develop Precision Health and, by extension, to impact global populations far into the future.

Many of you attended the most recent Dean’s Lecture featuring U.S. Surgeon General and Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy. In addressing the considerable health care challenges that stand before us, the Surgeon General urged the audience to apply the power of collective will. At Stanford Medicine, the power of our collective will has resulted in some of history’s most significant human health advances, and it will continue to drive us in our relentless pursuit of permanent solutions for disease. Every member of the Stanford Medicine community has played a vital part in our progress to date and is essential to our ongoing success. I thank you for your many contributions and wish you a wonderful fall.

With warmest wishes and deepest appreciation,

Lloyd Minor

Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine
Professor of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery 
Professor of Bioengineering and of Neurobiology, by courtesy