Stanford News


CONTACT: Janet Basu, News Service (650) 723-7582;

Visiting scholars to teach HumBio majors from personal experience with science, policy

This year, Stanford's Human Biology majors will be able to learn about epidemics from the infectious disease expert who earned a Nobel Prize for his discoveries about the Hepatitis B virus. They'll study health policy with the former assistant secretary of health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. And they'll be able to choose from three new upper-division tracks as areas of concentration for their studies.

The Nobel Laureate is Baruch Blumberg, M.D., a professor of medicine and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, who will join lecturer William Hurlbut in teaching a fall quarter course, "Epidemics, Evolution and Ethics." Blumberg is Stanford's first Lorry Lokey Distinguished Visitor in Human Biology, supported by an endowment intended to support both visiting lecturers and faculty within Stanford who teach in the interdisciplinary program. Lokey, A.B. '49, is founder of the Business Wire news wire service and a longtime supporter of the Human Biology program.

The former HHS official is Philip Lee, A.B. '45, M.D. '48, who is also former chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco and founder of the Institute for Health Policy Studies there. He will teach a senior honors colloquium on health policy with Donald Barr, M.D., a physician and sociologist. Three years ago, Barr initiated an introductory course on health care in America that now attracts more than 200 students; now he has been named head of the new "Health Policy" track of HumBio.

In addition to core courses in natural and social sciences and statistics, students who chose this track will take the general course and a follow-up seminar in health policy as well as courses in economics, public policy, sociology and anthropology.

Nutritionist and dietitian Gail Butterfield and sports medicine expert Gordon Matheson, M.D., will lead a second new area of concentration, labeled "Health and Human Performance." Butterfield teaches human nutrition and conducts research on metabolism and energy use at exercise and at rest. Matheson is a doctor who treats Stanford athletes and has helped to initiate a Division of Sports Medicine in the School of Medicine. They will offer a range of courses in nutrition, cardiovascular disease, exercise physiology and sports medicine.

The third new track, "Environmental Policy," was developed by anthropology Professor William Durham, former director of the Human Biology Program, and environmental lawyer Armin Rosencranz (J.D. '62; A.M. '63, Ph.D. '70). In 1962-63, Rosencranz was the first graduate student to be elected Stanford student body president. He went on to found the Pacific Environment and Resources Center, and to write books and articles on international environmental policy. Students taking the environment track will take advantage of existing courses in environmental science and policy, as well as new courses on the environment and free trade; human rights; environmental justice; and global forests and wildlife protection.

Russell Fernald, professor of psychology and current director of the Human Biology Program, said the environmental policy track "will enable Hum Bio juniors and seniors to focus on a subject that many of our majors have long been interested in, but have not been able until now to pursue in a coordinated way."

The Human Biology program was founded 26 years ago by a group of faculty including Donald Kennedy, Al Hastorf, and Paul and Anne Ehrlich, all of whom still teach in the program. Its rationale is that many of the major problems facing humanity involve both a biological component and a social science component, so it offers students training in both. In 1995-96 it was the second most popular undergraduate major at Stanford, after biological sciences.


By Janet Basu