Stanford University School of Medicine

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Stanford University School of Medicine
File:Stanford Medicine logo3.png
Established 1908
Type Private
Parent institution
Stanford University
Dean Lloyd B. Minor
Academic staff
Students 3,498
Postgraduates 1,158
Location Stanford, CA, USA
Campus Suburban

Stanford University School of Medicine is the medical school of Stanford University and is located in Stanford, California. It is the successor to the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, founded in San Francisco in 1858 and later named Cooper Medical College; the medical school was acquired by Stanford in 1908. Due to this descent, it ranks as the oldest medical school in the Western United States. The medical school moved to the Stanford campus near Palo Alto, California in 1959.

The School of Medicine, along with Stanford Health Care and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, is part of Stanford Medicine. It is a research-intensive institution that emphasizes medical innovation, novel methods, discoveries, and interventions in its integrated curriculum.


In 1855, Illinois physician Elias Samuel Cooper moved to San Francisco in the wake of the California Gold Rush. In cooperation with the University of the Pacific (also known as California Wesleyan College), Cooper established the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific, the first medical school on the West Coast, in 1858, on Mission Street near 3rd Street in San Francisco. The school underwent many changes until Cooper's nephew, Levi Cooper Lane, established a new campus at the intersection of Webster and Sacramento Streets in 1882; at that time, the school was christened Cooper Medical College.[1] Lane also built a hospital and a nursing school (forerunner of the Stanford School of Nursing) and made provision for the creation of Lane Medical Library.[2]

In 1908, Cooper Medical College was deeded to Stanford University as a gift. It became Stanford's medical institution, initially called the Stanford Medical Department and later the Stanford University School of Medicine. The school expanded and built up a reputation for excellence and providing cutting edge clinical care. In the 1950s, the Stanford Board of Trustees decided to move the school to the Stanford main campus near Palo Alto. The move was completed in 1959.

In the 1980s the Medical Center launched a major expansion program. A new hospital was added in 1989 with 20 new operating rooms, state of the art intensive care and inpatient units, and other technological additions. The Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine opened in May 1989 as an interdisciplinary center focusing on the molecular and genetic basis of disease.[3] The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital was completed in 1991, adding even more diversity to Stanford Medicine.

Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

The Clark Center, which opened its doors in 2003, houses interdisciplinary research endeavors through the university's Bio-X program and serves to reinforce Stanford's commitment to providing the best possible patient care through innovation. The focus of the program is to combine bioengineering, chemical engineering, physics, and entrepreneurship with medical research and clinical education to pioneer the future of medicine through translating discoveries.

In the early years of the 21st century the School of Medicine underwent rapid construction to further expand teaching and clinical opportunities. The Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge opened in 2010; it serves as the gateway to the School of Medicine as well as providing a new model of medical education by combining biomedical research with clinical education and information technology. The Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building also opened in 2010; it is the largest stem cell and regenerative medicine facility in North America.[4] The Stem Cell Research Building is the first of the planned Stanford Institutes of Medicine. In addition to research facilities it houses offices for faculty from the Stanford Cancer Center and "hotel space" offices for visiting researchers.[4] Furthermore, the Stanford University Medical Center is undergoing a renewal and expansion project which will rebuild Stanford Hospital & Clinics and the Emergency Department, modernize and expand Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, renovate the School of Medicine facilities to accommodate modern technology, and renovate Hoover Pavilion, the original Palo Alto Hospital, to accommodate community physicians.

Academic programs and students

The School of Medicine's programs include more than 1,250 enrolled students, matriculating in MD, MD/PhD, PhD, and master’s programs, and more than 2,300 postgraduate clinical and research trainees.

Most Stanford medical students elect to extend their training over five or more years in order to pursue more in-depth research. Approximately 19 percent of its MD students graduate with a joint MD/PhD degree while at Stanford.

The School of Medicine is currently in midst of a process to transform its medical curriculum. It has reversed the traditional teaching method of classroom time being reserved for lectures and problem-solving exercises being completed outside of school as homework; with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,[5] school leaders are heading up a collaborative on the use of the “flipped classroom” approach to content delivery.

The School of Medicine also has a Physician Assistant (PA) program that was added in 1971, called the Primary Care Associate Program. It was one of the first accredited physician assistant programs in California. It is offered in association with Foothill College. The program has graduated more than 1,300 physician assistants since its opening. Most graduates fulfill the program's mission of serving underserved medical communities.[6]

Rankings and admissions

In the 2015 U.S. News & World Report rankings, Stanford was ranked 2nd in the nation for research, behind Harvard Medical School.[7] Admissions to Stanford is highly competitive. The acceptance rate is the third-lowest in the country at 2.4%. In 2014, 7,452 people applied, 450 were interviewed.

Stanford is one of several schools in the states to use the multiple mini interview system, developed at McMaster University Medical School in Canada, to evaluate candidates.[8] The MMI system exposes candidates to multiple interviewers in a short amount of time and has been shown to better predict medical school performance than traditional panel interviews.

Along with the School of Humanities and Science, the Stanford School of Medicine also runs the Biosciences Ph.D. Program which was ranked 1st in 2014 among graduate programs in the biological sciences by the US News and World Report.[9] In specialties, according to U.S. News for 2014, Stanford is #1 in genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics; #1 in biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology; #1 in neuroscience and neurobiology; #2 in cell biology, #2 in microbiology; #4 in immunology and infectious disease and #4 in molecular biology.


The School of Medicine has 1,948 full-time faculty. There have been eight Nobel Prize winners over the past six decades, and among its current faculty members are:[10]

Faculty conduct clinical rotations at several hospital sites. In addition to the Stanford University Medical Center (Stanford Hospital and Clinics) and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford has formal affiliations with Kaiser Permanente, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System. Stanford medical students also manage two free clinics: Arbor Free Clinic in Menlo Park and Pacific Free Clinic in San Jose.

Notable research/achievements

  • 1956 - First use in Western hemisphere of linear accelerator to treat cancer
  • 1960 - First kidney transplant in California
  • 1964 - Demonstration of electrical stimulation of auditory nerve in deaf patients, paving the way for cochlear implants
  • 1968 - First adult human heart transplant in the United States
  • 1970 - Leonard Herzenberg develops the fluorescence-activated cell sorter (FACS) which revolutionizes the study of cancer cells and will be essential for purification of adult stem cells
  • 1974 - Isolation of genome of a virus that causes hepatitis B and a common form of liver cancer
  • 1975 - Discovery of link between exercise and increased “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels
  • 1979 - Discovery of dynorphin, a brain chemical 200 times more powerful than morphine
  • 1981 - First successful human combined heart/lung transplant in the world (fourth attempted worldwide)
  • 1984 - Isolation of a gene coding for part of the T-cell receptor, a key to the immune system’s function
  • 1988 - Isolation of pure hematopoietic stem cells from mice
  • 1992 - Development of a genetically engineered vaccine to enhance patients’ immunological response against B-cell lymphoma
  • 1993 - First clinical trial testing methods for preventing eating disorders in adolescents
  • 1996 - Discovery that the p53 protein, known to be involved in controlling cancerous tumors, works as an “emergency brake” on cancer development
  • 2000 - Solution of the structure of the RNA polymerase protein, a pivotal molecule that copies genes from DNA to RNA
  • 2005 - Discovery of obestatin, a hormone that suppresses appetite
  • 2007 - Application and expansion of optogenetics, a technique to control brain cell activity with light
  • 2009 - Discovery of a "don't-eat-me" signal that allows blood cancer stem cells to migrate safely through the body
  • 2009 - Discovery of the first human bladder cancer stem cell
  • 2010 - For the first time, researchers use a healthy person's complete genome sequence to predict his risk for dozens of diseases
  • 2013 - Karl Deisseroth's development of the CLARITY technique for rendering intact tissues transparent
  • 2013 - A new technique induces egg growth in infertile women, and one gives birth
  • 2014 - Study finds infusion of young blood recharges brains of old mice
  • 2014 - First study to show no survival benefit for bilateral mastectomy for breast cancer patients
  • 2014 - Discovery of abnormalities in the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome
  • 2015 - Scientists find genetic signature enabling early, accurate sepsis diagnosis
  • 2015 - Discovery of iron-containing inflammatory cells seen in Alzheimer’s brains that could be used to diagnose and monitor Alzheimer’s patients earlier than what is currently possible
  • 2015 - Researchers genetically engineer yeast to produce opioids, a faster and less expensive technique that could improve access to medicines in impoverished nations
  • 2015 - Discovery of a bacterial community in pregnant women that is linked to preterm birth

Notable alumni

Notable current and past faculty

References in popular culture

  • Dr. Cristina Yang, a character on the popular medical television drama Grey's Anatomy is a Stanford alumna and 'graduated first in her class', despite Stanford's medical school not actually having grades or rankings
  • Nick Rubashkin- Stanford Alum and Co-Editor of What I Learned in Medical School-personal stories of young doctors
  • Bob Kelso, Chief of Medicine on the NBC comedy Scrubs graduated '12th in his class' at Stanford.
  • At the end of Good Will Hunting, the character Skylar leaves Boston to enter medical school at Stanford.


  1. Allen, Wilmer C., The First Hundred Years, San Francisco: Stanford University School of Medicine, 1959. OCLC: 15229140
  2. "The Advent of Cooper Medical College (1870-1912)". eLane. Lane Library. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  3. Schechter, Ruth (April 28, 1999). "Beckman Center celebrates ten years at the forefront of biomedicine". Stanford Report. Retrieved 3 August 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Conger, Krista (October 25, 2010). "Stem cell central: The Lorry I. Lokey Building". Stanford School of Medicine. Retrieved 26 August 2012. 
  6. "Stanford School of Medicine Primary Care Associate Program with Foothill College". Stanford University School of Medicine. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  8. "On your mark, get set, interview!". Stanford University. Stanford University. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  11. This House of Noble Deeds by Barbara Niss

External links