Defining AI’s place in health and medicine

Dean Lloyd Minor on the need to not only learn to employ AI effectively but also to invest in efforts to guide its safe and responsible use

Letter from the Dean

Imagine a future where your doctor has an AI medical assistant by their side – distilling, in seconds, a world’s worth of medical research into a personalized treatment plan for you.

What if, at the click of a button, a researcher could design a custom molecule with the potential to treat a previously untreatable disease? With artificial intelligence’s rapid emergence, we are barreling toward this reality.

Academic medical centers around the world, including Stanford Medicine, have begun investigating how AI, including large language models such as ChatGPT, can help us improve patient care, reduce clinician workload, better understand complex biological systems and accelerate drug discovery.

As we embrace this future, we must do so with our eyes wide open. We already have plenty of examples of how AI has fallen short in biomedical research — typically because of biased or otherwise faulty data — and there will no doubt be further unforeseen consequences. As with any powerful new tool, we must not only develop the knowledge and skills to employ it effectively but also invest in shaping rules to guide its safe and responsible use.

Recognizing the urgent need to define AI’s place in health and medicine, Stanford Medicine and the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence recently launched Responsible AI for Safe and Equitable Health, or RAISE-Health. The goal of this trailblazing initiative is to guide the principled use of AI across biomedical research, education and patient care.

Central to RAISE-Health’s mission is ensuring that this new technology does not worsen current health inequalities but rather helps eliminate them. We are also creating a platform we hope will serve as a go-to resource to enable academic, government and industry leaders to make informed decisions. We know no system will be free of imperfection, but to say our current environment has room for improvement would be an understatement. By moving forward with intention and purpose, Stanford Medicine can ensure that successes far outnumber any stumbles along the way.

I’m proud that Stanford is asserting this leadership position. Our expertise in computer science and artificial intelligence extends back to the infancy of these fields. Our world-class biomedical and bioinformatics faculty drive groundbreaking discoveries daily. And with Silicon Valley partners, we have access to the most potent innovation hub on the planet. By bringing together decision makers, experts and diverse voices, we are uniquely positioned to define ethical standards and safeguards for AI in medicine.

As we stand on the cusp of this revolution and imagine how our lives and roles will change, I believe that AI’s impact will rival that of some of the most transformative innovations of human history, including the printing press and the internet. Progress will not be linear, but initiatives such as RAISE-Health will be critical in establishing best practices to secure a healthier and more equitable future for people around the world.


Lloyd Minor, MD
Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean of Stanford School of Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs at Stanford University
Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery