Precision Health Introduction

June 1, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

We are at a watershed moment in medicine. We have within our grasp the ability to completely change the very nature of health care to one of proactive, predictive and personalized care based upon keeping you healthy instead of just treating you when you are sick. We call this Precision Health.

In collaboration with other schools and divisions of Stanford University, we at Stanford Medicine stand uniquely poised to lead Precision Health, the next generation of precision medicine. Precision Health is more than the targeted drugs and therapies that we currently think of as precision medicine—and it is certainly more than an initiative or strategic plan for our organization. Precision Health is the new orienting framework for everything we do. It goes beyond precision medicine by leveraging our combined strengths in fundamental research, biomedical data science and transformative biomedical platforms to understand the features of disease that explain why some people get sick when others do not and which treatments, tests and lifestyle changes will prevent disease in each individual. We will learn what makes and keeps people healthy—and we will share this knowledge with the hopes of spreading health across the globe.

For all of us in academic medicine, Precision Health is a fundamental shift from focusing solely on advancing diagnosis and treatments for acute disease to one of understanding the underlying causes of health in individuals. It means partnering with our patients to use this information in a way that is empowering and health affirming.

Our world-class medicine, basic biological and physical sciences, engineering and computer science, along with our renowned statisticians, educators, social scientists, ethicists, designers, economists, business and legal scholars—not to mention our collaborative relationships with leading Silicon Valley innovators—make Stanford one of the only places in the world where this vision of Precision Health can be attained. It is our calling to take up this leadership role.

Our Precision Health framework includes nine transformative biomedical platforms that build upon our strengths in fundamental research to advance specificity and precision in diagnosis and treatment of diseases. In addition, we have identified areas of strategic focus through Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital/Stanford Children’s Health, where we will implement our research findings and use the information from the multiple data sources that drive our learning health system. Furthermore, we will transform the way we teach and the way our medical students learn in order to develop new fields like biomedical data science and to train Precision Health leaders who will determine the direction of their fields.

Advancement in genomics, biomedicine, computer science and biomedical technology, including wearable devices that continuously gather personalized health data, have opened the door to a future where the focus of medicine will be on predictive, preventive and longitudinal care. It is up to us to step through that door.

Is this a lofty goal? Absolutely. But it is because of you that Stanford Medicine is positioned to make such a profound impact on people’s lives, and it is through you that we will be able to transmute this vision into reality. Although it is a natural progression from all that we currently do, it is anything but an incremental step forward. Precision Health requires big thinking and bold action. Each and every one of you will play a role in advancing this goal.

We want to share more with you and continue this conversation. Visit our new Precision Health website to learn more about our vision and plans. We also invite you to watch via livestream a Town Hall meeting on Friday, June 5, where we’ll discuss in greater detail our roadmap for Precision Health. We’ll answer your questions and talk about how we can navigate together on this journey.


Lloyd B. Minor, M.D.
Dean, Stanford University School of Medicine

Christopher G. Dawes
President and CEO, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford
Stanford Children’s Health

Amir D. Rubin
President and CEO, Stanford Health Care