Last Saturday, more than 300 School of Medicine alumni and their guests returned to campus for Alumni Day. The annual event, which saw record-high attendance this year, brings together medical alumni of all ages, encouraging them to stay engaged with the university and their former classmates. Held at the Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge, the day featured educational sessions led by prominent Stanford leaders in global health and wrapped up with a celebratory social evening on campus.
The morning kicked off with a keynote presentation from Nathan Wolfe, DSc, a Stanford visiting professor and author of The Viral Storm. Wolfe began with a short lesson on the history of human discovery of microorganisms and emphasized that we still have much left to explore when it comes to the smallest living things in our universe. He argued that a critical part of fighting the next major epidemic is to simply identify- and contain- the virus that would otherwise cause it. “In the process of interrogating the microbial species that are in our world,” Wolfe concluded, “we’re going to find things that have the potential to harm us, and stop them before they can.”
The agenda included a variety of educational sessions in medicine and the biosciences, including a joint presentation by consulting associate professors of medicine Rajiv Doshi, MD, and Chris Shen, MD, who discussed how their respective biodesign programs in India and Singapore are revolutionizing the use of medical devices in those countries. Among the many devices they discussed, Shen described a special stent that was created with Singapore’s aging population in mind. For those who require aortic valve replacement, this device is able to conform to different types of aortic shapes, is removable, and helps protect against stroke – a significant side effect of current therapies.
Doshi explained that in India, neonatal hearing screenings are not required and many people are still giving birth outside of hospitals. Stanford-India Biodesign has developed 22 products to date, including a low-cost, reusable neonatal hearing screening device that leverages technology available in the U.S. and allows testing to be done very cheaply. More important than the devices themselves, however, are the fellows who are educated in these programs. “Our true product is the people that we train,” Doshi said. “Over the course of a lifetime, they’re going to create a massive impact.”
Another notable speaker was S.V. Mahadevan, MD, director of Stanford Emergency Medical International, who participated in a panel discussion about introducing medical resources to underdeveloped countries. Mahadevan was instrumental in setting up India’s first international paramedic training institute, Nepal’s first emergency medical services system, and Cambodia’s first emergency medicine strengthening program. His presentation highlighted the growth of India’s emergency medical services system over the last decade. “In much of the world, emergency care doesn’t exist,” he told the audience. “In 2005, India’s EMS system cared for zero people. Today, it cares for 750 million people.”
Later in the evening, alumni and their guests raised a glass and reminisced with classmates at a reception hosted by the dean followed by a formal class dinner. Classes ending in ’4 and ’9 celebrated a milestone together this year including the Class of 1964, a very special group in the history of the School of Medicine who gathered to commemorate their 50th reunion. “Ours was the first five-year class to graduate on the Stanford campus,” said 1964 class representative Don Goffinet, MD. “The best class ever!”
Brittany Malitsky is associate director of the Stanford University Medical Center Alumni Association. Alumni Day is sponsored by the alumni association and is open to all graduates of degree programs at the School of Medicine, as well as former residents, interns, postdocs, and fellows.
Previously: Hunt or be hunted: Tracking the next big pandemics
Photos by Mark Estes