Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


A vision for Stanford Medicine

New medical school dean shares his priorities



Lloyd Minor, MD, an inner ear specialist and surgical innovator, became the dean of Stanford University School of Medicine on Dec. 1, 2012. Minor changed the field of otolaryngology by identifying a new disease and developing a treatment that has benefited many patients. He previously served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University for nearly 20 years, the last three as the school’s provost.

What are your priorities as dean?

As I consider the future of Stanford Medicine, I am guided by three priorities: advancing innovation, empowering future leaders and transforming patient care. To advance innovation, we must seek to protect the high-risk-high-reward science that Stanford is known for. To empower future leaders, we must provide students and trainees with the skills needed for a changing biomedical landscape. To transform patient care, we must deliver health care that is accountable, coordinated, and patient centered.

One of the ways that we are working towards these priorities is through the Campaign for Stanford Medicine, which I am leading on behalf of the school and Stanford Hospital & Clinics. The campaign provides an opportunity for us to collectively plan our future around these priorities.

You have said that your experiences growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, during the 1960s and ’70s had a profound impact on your views on diversity. Can you tell us about your perspective?

As part of a court-ordered desegregation plan, I was bused to a formerly African American junior high school in 1971. I immediately learned that what was billed as “separate but equal” was separate but certainly not equal. There were very few books in the library, and the books on the lower shelves had their covers eaten away by rats. Banisters were missing from stairwells. Plaster was peeling from the walls.

It was eye opening to see this injustice, and it had a profound effect on me and on my aspiration for what I hope to accomplish as a leader. At institutions like Stanford I think there’s a lot we can do to promote diversity and be an agent for social change.

What do you think are the factors that will drive future innovation in medicine?

I believe that innovation is driven by what I call the 3 C’s — combination, collaboration and chance. Researchers must be given time to fail over the short term and the freedom to experiment and go where their research leads.

At Stanford, our scientists are exceptionally innovative. But in the current tough funding climate, we will have to work harder to give them the time and freedom they need to pursue the visionary science that can transform our lives.

How do you hope to leverage Stanford’s research programs to turn them into treatments that will benefit patients?

Stanford is committed to training the physician scientists who will translate fundamental research into improvements in patient care. We graduate four times as many MD/PhDs as the average medical school, and nearly all our medical students do research. This means that we have a unique opportunity to train and nurture the career development of innovative scientists who will be poised to have a significant impact on the translation of discoveries from bench to bedside.

As an otolaryngologist, you are known for having discovered a syndrome and developed a surgical procedure to correct the problem. Can you tell us more about this?

As a young physician at Johns Hopkins, some of my first patients were referred to me by the hospital’s psychiatrists. One man said he got dizzy when he sang in the shower. Another said he could hear the sound of his own eyes moving. I later discovered that these patients were experiencing symptoms coming from inside their heads — but not in the ways others might have supposed.

They had superior canal dehiscence, a debilitating disorder characterized by sound- and pressure-induced dizziness, caused by tiny holes in a bone overlying the inner ear. The surgery I subsequently developed to correct this problem is now practiced around the world and has brought benefit to hundreds of patients.

What role has basic science played in your career?

Basic science has played a central role in every step of my career. I spent several years as a postdoctoral research fellow, and as a faculty member at Johns Hopkins I did basic research in my lab while seeing patients in the clinic. In fact, my discovery of superior canal dehiscence syndrome and subsequent development of a corrective surgery would not have been possible had it not been for my basic research on the physiology of the vestibular system.

Creation of new knowledge through basic sciences research is essential to the improvement of human health. That’s why I have set a $70 million goal for the basic sciences in the Campaign for Stanford Medicine.

How do you collaborate with your colleagues at Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital?

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with two outstanding CEOs, Amir Rubin of Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Chris Dawes of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Together we share not just a common mission to improve human health but a common future.

I am delighted that they share my commitment to transforming patient care at Stanford Medicine by bringing the very best science to the treatment and prevention of disease, by focusing on the health and well-being of each patient who receives care through our system, by communicating our knowledge and advances to others so that we are a leader in the transformation of health care and by training the leaders who will have an impact.

How does primary care fit in your overall vision of delivering care to the community?

Academic medical centers have historically focused on providing specialized care, but our mission is broader than that. I believe that we must enhance our focus on primary care if we are to be accountable for the overall health of our patients and provide them with the coordinated care they need in an otherwise fragmented health-care system.

Stanford has broken ground to rebuild and expand both hospitals. What will be the significance to patients?

Stanford Medicine already provides preeminent care to the community. With the renovation and expansion of the hospitals, made possible by the Campaign for Stanford Medicine and the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, we will be able to provide pre-eminent care in pre-eminent facilities. But more than just buildings and technology, the renovation and expansion will allow us to transform patient care by implementing new models of integrated care built around the needs of patients.

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