David Relman

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David Relman, MD

  • Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor
  • Professor of Medicine
  • Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Stanford Health Policy Affiliate
CISAC Stanford University Encina Hall, E209 Stanford, CA 94305-6165

Biography

David A. Relman, M.D., is the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor in the Departments of Medicine, and of Microbiology and Immunology at Stanford University, and Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. He is also Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford, and served as science co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford from 2013-2017. He is currently director of a new Biosecurity Initiative at FSI.

Relman was an early pioneer in the modern study of the human indigenous microbiota. Most recently, his work has focused on human microbial community assembly, and community stability and resilience in the face of disturbance. Ecological theory and predictions are tested in clinical studies with multiple approaches for characterizing the human microbiome. Previous work included the development of molecular methods for identifying novel microbial pathogens, and the subsequent identification of several historically important microbial disease agents. One of his papers was selected as “one of the 50 most important publications of the past century” by the American Society for Microbiology.

Dr. Relman received an S.B. (Biology) from MIT, M.D. from Harvard Medical School, and joined the faculty at Stanford in 1994. He served as vice-chair of the NAS Committee that reviewed the science performed as part of the FBI investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters, as a member of the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity, and as President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He is currently a member of the Intelligence Community Studies Board and the Committee on Science, Technology and the Law, both at the National Academies of Science. He has received an NIH Pioneer Award, an NIH Transformative Research Award, and was elected a member of the National Academy of Medicine in 2011.

In The News

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News

Scientists battle over the ultimate origin story: Where did the coronavirus come from?

Stanford University microbiologist David A. Relman said the political climate last year made many scientists hesitant to express openness to the lab-leak idea. They did not want to align themselves with a theory closely associated with Trump and his allies, who referred to the coronavirus as “the China virus.”
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Commentary

5 Questions: David Relman on Investigating Origin of Coronavirus

Microbiologist David Relman discusses the importance of understanding how the coronavirus emerged.
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Q&As

CISAC tackles public health & policy questions on Ebola

We ask CISAC biosecurity experts David Relman and Megan Palmer to answer questions about the public health and policy implications of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.