Faculty Focus

perlman, stanley

Stanley Perlman, MD, PhD

Departments of Microbiology and Pediatrics

What is your hometown?

New York City

When did you join the University of Iowa faculty?


How/when did you become interested in science and medicine?

I initially became attracted to a career in science after attending Stuyvesant High School in New York City, a school that specialized in teaching science. Medicine came to me later, when I was nearly 30 years old.

What interested you to pursue a career in Virology?

I had studied viruses as part of my PhD thesis work, but I became especially interested in Virology after completing a pediatric residency and a fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases.

Is there a teacher or mentor who helped shape your career?

When I first started graduate school, Dr. Salvador Luria met with a group of us to discuss literature. Subsequently, the interplay between literature, society, and science helped shape my career.

How or why did you choose the University of Iowa?

I looked for a place that would allow me to participate in the care of pediatric patients with infectious diseases and also do research. University of Iowa excels in both. The size of Iowa City appealed to me, after living in New York City, Boston, Edinburgh, and Miami.

The University of Iowa’s faculty members are united to provide exceptional patient care while advancing innovations in research and medical education. How does your work help translate new discoveries into patient centered care and education?

I study the host’s immune response to viruses. Whether it is a coronavirus, such as SARS, or a potential pathogen causing demyelination, I find the host response as interesting and clinically important as the infection itself. The immune response may be responsible for many of if not most of the clinical illness that is observed in patients with infections. My goal is to understand these processes better and to design therapeutic interventions that ameliorate these undesirable consequences of eliminating viruses and other pathogens.

What kinds of professional opportunities or advantages does being a faculty member at an academic medical center provide?

Academic medical centers are the best places to combine clinical and research interests. They provide an atmosphere that facilitates exchange of knowledge that is beneficial to members of the center as well as the community at large.

Please describe your professional interests.

Pediatric infectious diseases and research in virology and immunology.

What led to your interest in Virology?

Viral infections are especially important in pediatric patients and since I had some knowledge of viruses from my PhD training, it was not a big transition to become a virologist.

How does working in a collaborative and comprehensive academic medical center benefit your work?

I am able to talk and interact with basic scientists and clinicians in order to share insights, perspectives, and resources that benefit me in my clinical and research work.

What are some of your outside interests?

Running, traveling, hiking, reading, scuba diving.

Do you have an insight or philosophy that guides you in your professional work?

Mentoring students, postdoctoral fellows, and young faculty is ultimately the most important part of my work.

If you could change one thing about the world (or the world of medicine), what would it be?

Make health care more efficient and available to all, without regard to income. At the same time, make patients participate more in their care with the goal of making them more invested in decisions and making the process more efficient and less expensive.

What is the biggest change you've experienced in your field since you were a student?

Technological advances in medicine and research. On the downside, students and young physicians in training have less responsibility for decisions, which may impact their ability to be good physicians, at least early in their career.

What one piece of advice would you give to today's students?

Follow your passion and have an optimistic view of the world.

What do you see as "the future" of medicine?

The future will be exciting. Advances in technology give us so many more opportunities to understand and treat disease. The challenge will be how to balance the cost with access to care.

In what ways are you engaged with the greater Iowa public (i.e., population-based research, mentoring high school students, sharing your leadership/expertise with organizations or causes, speaking engagements off campus, etc.)?

I have taught at the local high schools. Part of my research is directed at understanding multiple sclerosis and I have talked at meetings of the local chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.