Blumenkranz Identifies Inspiration for Innovative Life

Who inspires The Inspired?

In an interview following his receiving the OIS Lifetime Innovator Award at OIS@ASRS in Boston, Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD, MMS, the HJ Smead Professor Emeritus and director of Stanford’s Ophthalmic Innovation Program, shared his philosophy on change and innovation with OIS co-chair Emmett Cunningham Jr., MD, MS, managing director at Clarus Funds.

He said his earliest inspiration came from his family. Dr. Blumenkranz hails from a long line of physicians, so his only uncertainty growing up was the specialty he’d eventually practice. As a physician, he identified the late Edward W.D. Norton, MD, who was the founder and chairman of the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

“I watched him as he navigated through all the change and I thought, `Wouldn’t it be great to have that kind of impact on life?’” Dr. Blumenkranz recalled.

Dr. Blumenkranz, of course, went on to create the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford, giving him a taste of that impact. He served as founding director from 2010 until 2015.

Over his distinguished career he’s been a principal part of the founding of several exciting start-ups including Adverum, Digisight, Macusight, Oculeve, Oculex, Optimedica, and Peak Surgical. Dr. Blumenkranz dissected the mind-set that led him to a lifetime of developing new devices and drugs.

“Change is inevitable,” he says. “You can either deal with change or you can affect change. What I decided to do was do both.”

He also credited his colleagues at Associated Retinal Consultants in Royal Oak, MI, for instilling the lessons of running a sound practice.

At the end of the day, Dr. Blumenkranz says, the right team is essential.

“The way to win these awards is to surround yourself with good people and treat them well,” he said.