Health Matters has a history of bringing engaging and inspiring speakers to our community, and this year was no exception. Listed here is our stellar lineup of presenters who spoke at Health Matters 2023.

Deborah Kado, MD, MS

Deborah Kado, MD, MS, professor of medicine–primary care and population health, specializes in geriatrics. She serves as co-director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and research chief of geriatric medicine. She has a special interest in bone health, conducting extensive research focused on osteoporosis and the related disorder hyperkyphosis, commonly known as the “dowager’s hump.” Her discoveries helped define this condition as a new geriatric syndrome, with her work published in the American College of Physicians’ journal Annals of Internal Medicine and UpToDate, an evidence-based clinical decision support resource for doctors worldwide. She is a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Geriatrics Society, the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, the Gerontological Society of America, and the Endocrine Society. She co-chairs the NIH National Institute on Aging Workshop for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Christopher Gardner, PhD

Christopher Gardner, PhD, the Rehnborg Farquhar Professor of Medicine at Stanford, holds a PhD in nutritional sciences. For nearly 30 years, his research has examined what to eat and what to avoid for optimal health and how to best motivate individuals to adopt healthy behaviors. He has designed and conducted more than 20 nutrition intervention trials involving more than 2,000 participants. He is the current chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee and has also worked with the American Diabetes Association. His recent research includes studying various dietary patterns and the microbiome, and working in institutional food settings such as universities, worksites, hospitals, K–12 schools, and food banks. His long-term vision is to create a world-class Stanford Food Systems Initiative that will address national and global health crises related to our broken food systems.

Michelle Hauser, MD, MS, MPA, FACP, FACLM

Michelle Hauser, MD, is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and culinary medicine and director of obesity medicine at the Stanford Lifestyle and Weight Management Center. Dr. Hauser also serves as a clinical associate professor of surgery–general and by courtesy, of medicine–primary care and population health at Stanford. After training as a Le Cordon Bleu chef, she earned her medical degree at Harvard Medical School and conducted master’s studies in public policy and administration as well as epidemiology and clinical research, and completed postdoctoral work in cardiovascular disease prevention. Part doctor, part professionally trained chef, Dr. Hauser firmly believes that healthy food can, and should, taste good. She develops and runs lifestyle and medical weight-management programs that combine evidence-based, non-surgical treatment modalities, such as nutrition, to treat food-related diseases. She authored the first comprehensive, open-source Culinary Medicine Curriculum for health care professional training programs, which is now used in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Justin Sonnenburg, PhD

Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, where he studies gut microbiota in health and disease and co-directs the Center for Human Microbiome Studies. His laboratory at Stanford develops and employs diverse technologies to understand basic principles that govern interactions within the intestinal microbiota and between the microbiota and the host. An ongoing objective of the research program is to devise and implement innovative strategies to prevent and treat disease in humans via the gut microbiota. Dr. Sonnenburg has received a National Institutes of Health Director’s New Innovator Award and Pioneer Award and co-founded Novome Biotechnologies, a synthetic biology company that engineers gut microbes to treat disease. He and his wife and collaborator, Erica, are the authors of the book The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health.

Nolan Williams, MD

Nolan Williams, MD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, directs the Stanford Brain Stimulation Lab. Double-board–certified in neurology and psychiatry, his work focuses on neurostimulation techniques, rapid-acting antidepressants, and identifying neuromodulation responses in treatment-resistant neuropsychiatric conditions. Dr. Williams pioneered a rapid-acting brain-stimulation approach for major depressive disorder called the Stanford Accelerated Intelligent Neuromodulation Therapy, or SAINT. The FDA recently approved the marketing of SAINT as an intensive, individualized form of transcranial magnetic stimulation to uncover and target each patient’s unique brain circuits to retrain the brain through a series of magnetic pulses. Results from his studies and work have gained widespread attention in journals such as Science and New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch and in various news sources, including Time and Newsweek. Dr. Williams received the National Institute of Mental Health Biobehavioral Research Award for Innovative New Scientists in 2020.


Ben Rein, PhD

Ben Rein, PhD, is a postdoctoral scholar in the lab of Robert Malenka, MD, PhD. He is currently studying the neural basis of empathy and how drugs such as MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy) act in the brain to enhance social connection. Dr. Rein's previous research examined genetic risk factors for autism spectrum disorder and identified key systems in the brain that regulate social interactions. Outside the lab, Dr. Rein creates educational science videos for an audience of more than 900,000 social media followers, where he summarizes research papers, teaches neuroscience principles, and debunks viral videos containing misinformation.