Hewlett Recipient Profile

David A. Rytand, MD

Arthur L. Bloomfield
Professor of Medicine, Emeritus
May 31, 1984
Hewlett Award Presentation

Life of Dr. Rytand

Rytand entered Stanford as an undergraduate in 1926 and never left, earning both his undergraduate and MD degrees at Stanford and being named to a succession of increasingly important positions at the School of Medicine.

He received many other awards throughout the years, including the Distinguished Service Award of the San Francisco and California heart associations and the Award for Outstanding Contribution in Medical Education from the Santa Clara Valley Medical Society in 1982.

His research concentrated on heart conditions, in particular the circus movement theory that explains why the heart beats irregularly in certain heart disorders.

After receiving his medical degree in 1933, Rytand became in succession an instructor in medicine, an assistant professor, an associate professor and a full professor. He was chairman of the Department of Medicine from 1954 to 1960 and in 1958 became the first Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine, the first endowed chair in the Department of Medicine.

From the http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist9/saga.html, David, who changed his name to Rytand, became a famous heart specialist at Stanford, married Nancy Homquist, and had three children, Sally, David, Jr., and the late William Rytand

He was active in the Stanford Medical Alumni Association for many years and became director of alumni relations in 1981, after his retirement.

Stanford's Medical School Transition

When Stanford's Medical School moved from San Francisco to new buildings and laboratories on the Palo Alto campus 40 years ago, the changes were far more than physical in nature. The major role of Stanford's medical school during its first half century in San Francisco was to train physicians for medical practice. "The move" gave birth to a new kind of medical school. Envisioned by Stanford University's president Wallace Sterling and provost Frederick E. Terman, the reinvented medical school had a research emphasis encompassing both clinical medicine and the underlying basic sciences.

The establishment of a full-time clinical research faculty was one of the major changes brought about by the move. While heart surgeon Norman Shumway, MD, PhD; radiologist Henry S. Kaplan, MD; surgeon Roy Cohn, MD; and internist David Rytand, MD, joined the new campus, many others were unable to make the move. This made it possible to hire additional research-oriented clinicians, including surgeon Robert Chase, MD; urologist Thomas Stamey, MD; pediatrician Norman Kretchmer, MD, PhD; and psychiatrist David Hamburg, MD.

At the same time, funding became available to hire a world-class basic sciences faculty in biochemistry, as well as in genetics, an area relatively new to medical schools. Pioneering biochemist Arthur Kornberg, MD, arrived from Washington University, St. Louis, bringing his entire research group, which included Paul Berg, PhD, and many others. And legendary geneticist Joshua Lederberg, PhD, who was at the University of Wisconsin, accepted an offer to head Stanford's new Department of Genetics.

Untied from the ropes of tradition, the medical school, influenced by its influx of young energetic researchers, swung toward the union of basic research and medicine. Related departments on the Stanford campus, such as the departments of biological sciences and chemistry, were greatly strengthened, and the proximity of the medical school to the rest of the university furthered collaboration between medical and other faculty members.

The reinvigorated medical school included a radical new program for medical students. The idea was to attract students who wanted to conduct research -- and then give them every opportunity to do so, including an extra year's time. The five-year program encouraged students to find their own niches within the broader campus as well as the medical school, to work alongside researchers in their laboratories and to seek the best training available in their areas of interest.

The move's influence is still felt. "As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the move, the integration of basic sciences and medicine remains at the core of Stanford's medical research and education," says the medical school's current dean, Eugene Bauer, MD. "The move, and the changes instituted along with it, set the stage for the dynamic research programs we have today," says Bauer.

Stanford Medicine invites its readers to see the move through the eyes of faculty and students who took part in the school's transformation.