October 20, 2000

Stead selected to join Institute of Medicine

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Dr. William Stead

Stead selected to join
Institute of Medicine

Dr. William W. Stead has been elected into the National Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Stead is associate vice-chancellor for Health Affairs, professor of Medicine and of Biomedical Informatics, assistant to the chancellor for informatics and chief information architect for Vanderbilt University.

He joins the elite list of 613 active members of the Institute, and has the privilege to serve with his father, Dr. Eugene A. Stead Jr., who was a charter member of the organization.

“My election represents what Vanderbilt and I have been able to accomplish together,” Stead says. His election serves as another example, he says, of the excellence demonstrated by Vanderbilt faculty, staff and students. “The strengths of our institution are greater than any of our current rankings,” he says. “This is another chance to reflect on our strengths.”

Dr. John E. Chapman, dean of the School of Medicine, explains that the National Academy of Science is the most senior science organization in the country. Election to the Institute comes by a vote of current members, and the competition is great.

“To be elected to the Institute of Medicine affords a higher responsibility to interact with the programs of effort of the Institute in ways favorable to health. It is a high honor, for it represents peer judgment of the individual as senior in ability and contributions acknowledged through peer selection,” Chapman says. “Dr. Stead meets all of these requirements.”

Dr. Harry R. Jacobson, vice chancellor for health affairs, says “Bill Stead is an excellent thinker. He is committed to improving the missions of academic medicine – teaching, research and patient care – through the most practical and innovative applications of information technology.”

Under Stead’s leadership, the division of Biomedical Informatics linked the Eskind Biomedical Library with Information Management under one unit managed at the level of the Medial Center.

“By creating a biomedical information program that is both broad and deep in expertise, and one that is a two-way conduit for informatics research and practice feedback, Dr. Stead has created a program at Vanderbilt that is unmatched in the nation,” Jacobson says.

Stead has served on two of the Institute’s committees that frame national science and health policy. In 1989, he served on the Institute’s technology subcommittee on Improving the Patient Record. Earlier this year he was appointed to the Institute’s 15-member Committee on the National Quality Report on Health Care Delivery, which was commissioned by congress to establish guidelines to evaluate the nation’s health care delivery system and to judge its progress.

Personally, Stead cherishes the opportunity to follow his father’s lead in medical sciences. “It’s going to be fun to be part of a father-son team,” he says. Professionally, he sees his election as the opportunity to further Vanderbilt’s efforts to shape health care policy.

“I believe very strongly that the proper role for academic medicine is to provide the tools that empower individual physicians and patients to improve the quality of their health and their health care,” he says. “At Vanderbilt our focus is on improving the quality of the system to reduce health care costs.”

Stead becomes the sixth Vanderbilt faculty member to be elected to the Institute. Others are James Blumstein, professor of law and director of the Center for Health Policy Studies; Dr. John A. Oates, Thomas R. Frist Professor of Medicine; Dr. Mildred T. Stahlman, professor of pediatrics and pathology; Brigid L. M. Hogan, Hortense B. Ingram Professor of Molecular Oncology; and Colleen Conway-Welch, dean of the School of Nursing.