Dr. Longaker with his family.
cine, which is yet another avenue for funding. Developing these types of alternative funding resources is
essential for young surgeon-scientists so they have a
chance to be successful.
Do you think it is realistic for surgeon-scientists
to run their own lab, or do you think it is better to
be in a more collaborative environment?
It depends on what you want to do. At Stanford, we tend
to recruit independent investigators. They can come to
my group meetings; we can collaborate, but it is up to
them how much interaction occurs. It really depends
on the individual. If you have an extensive pedigree and
are ready to be an independent investigator, do that; if
not, transition to that level in a mentored, collaborative
environment. Either way will work. I remind people
that research is not a sprint; it is a marathon.
It sounds as though Stanford has a uniquely sup-
We do, and providing that environment has been
intentional. I have a master’s degree in business
administration and have been heavily involved with
fundraising through our local children’s hospital
foundation. I probably have more experience than
most surgeons in this area. That said, surgeons are
uniquely positioned to be successful in fundraising.
A surgeon’s connection to a grateful patient or role
in making a critical diagnosis for family is a distinct
pathway to facilitate these interactions. Surgeons can
maximize this opportunity with the right guidance
from a more experienced person to help them frame
the question and connect with the donor. I also serve
on an NIH Council, and that has been an interesting
experience. It is important to get more surgeons on
the NIH study sections.
Have you ever struggled with work-life balance?
Have you ever felt that you were spreading your-
Yes, definitely. My wife, Melinda, who is a dermatologist in private practice, and I have been married for 26
years. I met her when she was an anesthesia medical
student at UCSF. She is my best friend in the whole
world. We waited 12 years to have children, and we
now have two children, Andrew, age 12, and Daniel,
age 15. They are the light of our lives. I think being
in academic medicine, you are never truly off duty.
My wife started her career after me and finished long
before me. I want our children to know who their
father is, independent of his job. This is a top priority
for me. I would say it is a constant struggle for me to
be there to support my children at their academic,
athletic, and social events, but that is a part of my life
that I will not compromise. ♦