Clinical-research expert moving to Stanford

Steven Goodman, MD, PhD, has worn many hats through his long and varied career, from pediatrician to biostatistician, from epidemiologist to clinical trial expert, from scientist to, well, opera singer. Admittedly, opera has been more of a hobby for him than a career path, but it does give some indication of his ability to master a wide range of subjects.

“I have a deep interest in how we ‘know’ things,” said Goodman. “We can know them through empirical study, or through understanding how things work, or through non-verbal human interaction.” This perspective reflects his roles as an expert in evidence-based medicine and translational research, as well as a former clinician and, indeed, a musician. Together his interests have shaped what he is today — a leading expert in the field of clinical research interpretation and education.

Goodman’s newest role will begin in early August as associate dean for clinical and translational research at the Stanford University School of Medicine. This summer he will be moving across the country from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore to Palo Alto, where he’ll bring his depth and breadth of knowledge and interests to Stanford.

“He’s bringing his strong history and reputation for being a star educator in the area of study design, clinical trials, biostatistics, clinical and translational research methodology — coming here to pull these areas together,” said Harry Greenberg, MD, the school’s senior associate dean for research. “We’ve always had good educators in the area of clinical and translational medicine, but we’ve never had one person focused on trying to bring it all together.”

Goodman’s experience and training have him primed for this particular role. As an educator of medical professionals in clinical research since 1989 at Johns Hopkins, he has been involved in shaping that university’s well-known model clinical research training program from its inception in the early 1990s. Additionally, he has been a leader in curriculum development and doctoral training in Hopkins’ Department of Epidemiology.

At Stanford, he will be taking on a leadership role in coordinating and strengthening the clinical research training programs at all levels — from medical students to residents, fellows and faculty. “I have a lot to learn about the Stanford programs, but I am deeply impressed by the quality of the people here, the range of really interesting interdisciplinary research and the potential to make Stanford an innovative leader in this area,” he said.

Clinical research education is critical for all doctors regardless of career path. “Knowing how to interpret clinical and comparative-effectiveness studies is critical for lifelong learning,” he said. “Something new comes out almost every day, and it’s the only way to understand whether these new treatments and technologies actually make patients better off — and whether to use them in your patients.” He added that too many of today’s doctors can barely read the literature in their own fields. “What happens is that they then have to depend on others to tell them what the evidence in evidence-based medicine is,” he said.

Raised on New York’s Long Island, Goodman majored in applied mathematics and biochemistry at Harvard University, and attended medical school at New York University. He trained in pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, and then received a master’s degree in biostatistics and a PhD in epidemiology from Johns Hopkins.

Goodman chose pediatrics, he said, because he valued a field of medicine where the human element was central. “You can’t reduce the experience of clinical interaction with an infant to just words or numbers,” he said. “That experience made me very respectful of what clinicians sometimes know that numbers cannot capture.”

Goodman is currently a professor of oncology in the division of biostatistics and bioinformatics at Johns Hopkins’ Kimmel Cancer Center, along with his having appointments in pediatrics, biostatistics and epidemiology in the schools of Medicine and of Public Health. He has been editor of the journal Clinical Trials since 2004 and is senior statistical editor for the Annals of Internal Medicine, where he has served since 1987.

He is scientific co-advisor to the national Blue Cross-Blue Shield Medical Advisory Panel, a role he shares with Alan Garber, PhD, who will be leaving Stanford this fall to become provost at Harvard. Goodman has served on numerous Institute of Medicine committees and currently co-chairs one on the ethics and science of drug safety. He was recently named to the 15-member methodology committee of the government’s new Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Goodman has a variety of research interests, including the statistical and epistemological aspects of medical evidence, research ethics, history of medicine and research synthesis. He looks forward to collaborating with Stanford scholars in fields such as sociology, philosophy, history, computer science and statistics.

At Stanford, Goodman will also be wearing multiple hats. In addition to coordinating clinical research education training, he’ll be assisting Greenberg with the next submission of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards initiative, a federal grant designed to help to speed the translation of basic science findings into treatments for patients. And he will play a key role as part of the medical school team working to expand Stanford’s expertise in the multifaceted field of “population medicine” — a population-based approach to studying medicine using a broad spectrum of both social and biological sciences.

Goodman is also a satirical songwriter, and twice sang the national anthem for Baltimore Orioles games, once when he was called away in the middle of a workday to rush out to the ballpark. He is not sure whether he’ll be able continue his singing at Stanford, particularly in Gilbert and Sullivan productions. “I’ve played almost every G&S baritone lead, which means I’ve played a lot of fools,” Goodman said. “It can be hard to command respect after one of those roles, so I might have to develop some professional credibility first.”

The Stanford University School of Medicine consistently ranks among the nation’s top medical schools, integrating research, medical education, patient care and community service.

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