Stanford DoM Celebrates 2021 Hewlett Award Winner, Paul Yock
Each year, the Albion Walter Hewlett Award recognizes a physician who has made substantial contributions to Stanford and who has, over decades, demonstrated the exemplary combination of a scientific approach to medicine and sensitivity to patients.
The award’s namesake, Albion Walter Hewlett, MD, led Stanford’s Department of Medicine from 1916 to 1925. Hewlett was a professor of internal medicine and a leading clinical researcher who made particular contributions in understanding cardiac arrhythmias and in applying scientific research to clinical practice.
The 2021 awardee is Paul Yock, MD, an interventional cardiologist and professor emeritus of medicine and bioengineering. Yock is known for his work in inventing, developing and testing new devices, including devices which fellow interventional cardiologist and Department of Medicine Chair Bob Harrington, MD, described as having “changed interventional cardiovascular practice." Altogether, Yock, the Martha Meier Weiland Professor of Medicine, holds over 50 U.S. patents for medical devices.
One such invention is the Rapid Exchange angioplasty and stenting system. The Rapid Exchange system, unlike its predecessors, can be operated by a single person and has made procedures including stent placement faster and safer. Today, the system is the primary approach used worldwide.
Among Yock’s other inventions is the Smart Needle, a needle with an ultrasound transmitter mounted at the tip that helps doctors find a patient’s vein in fewer attempts and less time. Yock also authored the fundamental patents for intravascular ultrasound imaging (IVUS), which produces cross-sectional images from inside of arteries, and conducted the initial clinical trials to validate the technology. Today, IVUS is used worldwide to detect and evaluate coronary artery disease and to determine the mechanism of stent failure.
In 2000, Yock and Josh Makower, MD, MBA, co-founded the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign, which Harrington described as “a Stanford jewel.” Stanford Biodesign trains and supports students, fellows, and faculty in health technology innovation. Yock served as the center’s founding director.
Makower, Stanford Biodesign’s current director, paid tribute to Yock’s lasting impact. “Under Paul’s leadership, the program has blossomed. The Biodesign Process is now taught worldwide, giving students, fellows, faculty, and executives the tools to tackle some of the most urgent problems facing patient care today. Most importantly, using the Biodesign Process, our students' innovations have touched the lives of millions of patients, and created jobs and positive economic outcomes for thousands.”
“Paul is a caring physician, a patient and thoughtful mentor, an inspired teacher, a true innovator in his own right, and someone who has the capacity to bring out the best in everyone he works with.” - Josh Makower, MD, MBA
Yock also established the Stanford Center for Research in Cardiovascular Interventions (now the Stanford Center for Cardiovascular Technology) and was the founding co-chair of the department of bioengineering. He continues to work on research related to new device technologies.
“Paul is a caring physician, a patient and thoughtful mentor, an inspired teacher, a true innovator in his own right, and someone who has the capacity to bring out the best in everyone he works with,” said Makower. “His mark on the history of medical technology, and the practice of ‘medtech innovation’ itself will be everlasting.”
Harrington also noted Yock’s creativity, innovativeness, and entrepreneurialism. He added, “Paul is, most importantly, one of the world’s truly good guys.”