By Kevin O’Neill
On January 30, the Stanford University dean of the School of Medicine, Lloyd Minor, MD, spoke at our Café Scientifique series. The title of his talk was, “Academic Medicine: Leading the Biomedical Revolution”.
Having only been on board at Stanford a little over a year, Dean Lloyd Minor reflected on his first impressions. He identified Stanford’s spirit as being one characterized by optimism. This became apparent to him in observing that daunting challenges were taken on as opportunities for breakthrough improvements. Whereas it is commonplace in educational institutions to have departments seen as “silos”, he was impressed to find the high degree of horizontal connectivity across departments and schools. This was given as one of the reasons for Steve Chu, Ph.D., the former U.S. Department of Energy Secretary, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Professor of Physics and Biology at the University of California Berkeley, to return to Stanford recently to resume his work with the Bio-X program. This is a multi-disciplinary program that combines the physical and biological sciences with medicine and engineering. He concluded his overview of his new workplace by saying that he thought the Stanford School of Medicine’s greatest strength was that it was part of Stanford University!
Regarding the opportunities for improvements within Stanford Medical Center, he said that historically Stanford School of Medicine (SoM) excelled in research and teaching, with a lesser focus on its clinical practice. He has noticed a “seed change” within Stanford over the past 10 years, moving from a focus upon the most complex of problems, to improving its general clinical practice. He shared his immense pride in the new community medical resource, the Stanford Health Care Alliance, which would make all SoM faculty accessible to all enrollees.
The most recent SoM faculty retreat was called “Pathways to Pre-Eminence”. He underscored its progress to this end with the following landmark achievements:
- 12% of the most recent 92 SoM graduates received a Ph.D. in addition to an MD. He hopes to increase this number significantly.
- There were more than 7,000 applicants last fall for a SoM class of 92.
- The SoM ranks fourth nationally in N.I.H. research grants based on total amount of funding awarded. He said this was remarkable, considering Stanford’s relatively small size.
- There are seven living Nobel Prize Laureates within the SoM.
The well thought out, challenging questions from his audience were handled with utmost respect, specificity, and promise. I, and others I shared reflections with in the audience, were highly impressed by Dean Minor’s depth of knowledge about Stanford University, its School of Medicine, and contemporary medical practice. His vision for the SoM’s future was most inspiring. We all felt deeply honored to have had a chance to meet the dean in person, and to hear firsthand how he will continue Dean Pizzo’s legacy of elevating Stanford to yet higher levels of excellence in its service to humankind.
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Kevin O’Neill coordinates the Cafe Scientifique discussion series for Stanford Blood Center.