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The “terribly exciting” days of Stanford’s young Department of Medicine

Stan Schrier

In the summer of 1959, not long after Stan Schrier, MD, joined Stanford’s Department of Medicine as an assistant professor, he attended his first meeting with just 12 other faculty members.

Where many would see a sparsely filled room, Schrier saw possibility. “It was pretty clear that we had a very small department and the place was going to build,” he recalled in a recently published article.

Those early days were “terribly exciting,” reminisced Schrier. “As young assistant professors with not many of the older faculty around we had enormous leverage. We proposed programs that, in fact, took place, and that have led to what we see now — an enormously powerful department with strengths in basic science and translational medicine.”

He has collected many stories like this over the span of his 56-year career. “We’re an extraordinarily different place today. Instead of 12 or 15, there are 400 in the Department of Medicine. We have people at ValleyCare Medical Center, and we have people at the Palo Alto VA, to say nothing of the enormous expansion of Stanford Hospital.”

Schrier, who is now 86, continues to see patients in the hematology clinic and still has plenty of teaching opportunities.

As if that’s not enough for a man who was alive during the Depression, he also studies the impact of anemia on older patients with congestive heart failure.

“The best time of my life is now,” he said. “And though I’m supposed to be retired, I’m actually an ‘active emeritus.’”

Previously: Exploring the history and study of sleep with William Dement, The history of U.S. health care in about 1,000 words and A trip down memory lane: Stories from the early days of the School of Medicine
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben

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