Dr. William R. Brody, President of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, an acclaimed physician-scientist, entrepreneur, and university leader, joined the Salk Institute on March 2, 2009 after 12 years as president of The Johns Hopkins University. He is a national figure in efforts to encourage innovation and strengthen the U.S. economy through investments in basic research and education. Most recently, he has written and spoken extensively around the country to promote a fuller discussion of health care reform.
Renowned for his achievements in biomedical engineering, Dr. Brody has over 100 publications and two U.S. patents in the field of medical imaging, and has made contributions in medical acoustics, computed tomography, digital radiography, and magnetic resonance imaging. These contributions have led to his recognition by numerous national and international organizations. Dr. Brody is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the American College of Radiology, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, the American Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Radiological Society of North America for his contributions to medical imaging science.
A native of Stockton, California, Dr. Brody received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his M.D. and Ph.D., also in electrical engineering, from Stanford University. Following post-graduate training in cardiovascular surgery and radiology at Stanford, the National Institutes of Health and the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Brody was associate professor and then professor of radiology and electrical engineering at Stanford University (1977-1986). He has been a co-founder of three medical device companies, and served as the president and chief executive officer of Resonex Inc. from 1984 to 1987.
Dr. Brody serves as a member of the Scientific Management Review Board of the National Institutes of Health and on the board of directors of IBM and Novartis. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Stanford University. He formerly served on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Science Board of the Food and Drug Administration, on the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a trustee of the Commonwealth Fund, the Whitaker Foundation, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Dr. Brody is a private pilot holding airline transport pilot and flight instructor ratings. He and his wife, Wendy, have two grown children.
This is a time of remarkable firsts at the Salk Institute.
In January, we publicly launched the first-ever Campaign for Salk, a major fundraising effort with a goal of raising $300 million to support Salk research. Soon afterward, we received an extraordinary gift of $42 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust for a Center for Genomic Medicine, the single largest gift in the Institute's history. And next month, on April 13, we celebrate Step into Discovery day, an event featuring a rare open house of Salk laboratories and the inaugural Walk for Salk, a 5K fundraising walk along the beautiful Torrey Pines mesa.
Each of these firsts, which you can read about in the latest issue of Inside Salk, help support the important work of Salk's scientists, who are in the business of breaking new scientific ground. Every day, they probe the frontiers of knowledge, and their work expands our understanding of how our bodies function and how, when we become sick, we might better heal them.
The Salk Institute was founded on a legacy of historic discovery. The Walk for Salk will take place a day after the 58th anniversary of Jonas Salk's announcement of the polio vaccine. April 23rd is the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA. Salk shares many connections to this scientific milestone, including several Nobel laureates, among them Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix, who came to Salk to take up the challenges of neuroscience. These anniversaries underscore the fact that many years of research go into making life-changing discoveries.
At Salk today, our scientists continue to follow Dr. Salk's example, working long hours in the laboratory to lay the groundwork for the medicine of the future. Using powerful new technologies and collaborating in innovative ways, they are seeking cures and preventive treatments for cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, aging and associated conditions. With your help, these historic firsts for Salk will translate into scientific firsts that benefit human health.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment.
- The big elephant in the room - With all the emphasis on cost control by the Congress, the big elephant in the room that has not yet been tamed is the rapid rise of costs for the care of Medicare recipients. Recently I spoke to the vice dean for clinical investigation at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and he echoed the sentiment that Medicare patients with five or more chronic ailments are consuming a large fraction of Medicare costs and sapping the energy of the healthcare delivery system.
- Philanthropy comes from the heart - I have been asked on many occasions to name the most significant gift I received as the head of a large research university where philanthropic gifts totaled in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Without question, one of the most moving and significant donations came from a ten-year-old boy, Conor Griffin Goetz.
- About thinking...fast and slow - If you haven't had a chance to read Daniel Kahneman's new book, Thinking Fast and Slow, I highly recommend it to you. Dr. Kahneman is one of only two people to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics who is not an economist; rather, he is a behavioral psychologist. Many of his landmark studies have pointed out the irrationality in our decision making that violates the well-accepted "laws" of economics—like supply and demand.
- "The Times They Are A-Changin'" - In these "changing times," the support of our loyal benefactors becomes more and more important to offset the loss of support from the government.
- Serendipity and science - The "secret sauce" of Salk scientific discovery is the unique character of our institute. There are no departments or divisions and the architectural design of the Salk facilitates interaction among scientists in the laboratory. Facilitating interaction among the best minds in seemingly unrelated fields is one important aspect of scientific (or should I say "serendipitous") discovery.
- Sutton's law and chronic illness - Sutton's law of healthcare says if you want to reduce healthcare costs, you have to find ways of reducing the economic impact of chronic illness, ideally by preventing or significantly delaying when affliction occurs, or finding better and more cost-effective ways of treating the illness.