Politics & Policy

Scott Atlas Brings the Highest Medical Expertise to Public Service

Dr. Scott Atlas speaks at a White House press briefing, August 12, 2020. (Screengrab via Fox Business/YouTube)
The media-driven attempt to paint his views on health policy as “unscientific” is a smear.

Almost as soon as Dr. Scott Atlas of Stanford University was named a special adviser to the president last week, having been brought in to help manage the response to the pandemic, some quarters of the American media began attacking him. CNN, for example, prominently featured an article with the title “Trump adds coronavirus adviser who echoes his unscientific claims,” elsewhere referring to Atlas’s “non-science views.” A look at Atlas’s credentials suggests that the accusation that he has non-science-based views is risible.

As we work to contain the virus while preserving our economy, it is essential that we think rationally about risks and trade-offs. The administration is counting on Dr. Atlas for guidance in this effort. Among his qualifications, which CNN disregards in its smear campaign, Atlas is a world-renowned physician and health-policy scholar. He currently serves as the Robert Wesson Senior Fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, one of the world’s most distinguished think tanks.

Prior to arriving at the Hoover Institution, Atlas had a highly distinguished 25-year career as an academic physician at our country’s finest medical centers. After receiving his M.D. degree at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, he was chief resident at Northwestern University Medical Center. He received his fellowship training at the University of Pennsylvania, where he rapidly emerged as an expert in neuroradiology. He has been a leading clinician and researcher into novel applications of advanced MRI in disorders of the brain and spine, and a leading educator on these advances all over the world. Atlas is widely recognized as an exceptional teacher. He has been an invited speaker and visiting professor at our nation’s top universities from coast to coast, and he is a highly sought-after speaker throughout the world.

Atlas is the editor of what became the leading textbook in the field, Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain and Spine; now in its fifth edition and translated into Mandarin, Spanish, and Portuguese, that book has served as the standard for the world since its original publication. He has published over a hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals, and has been a reviewer and an editorial-board member of the major scientific journals in his field.

Dr. Atlas served on the faculties of several of our nation’s top medical centers, including those at the University of California San Francisco and the University of Pennsylvania, New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center, and most recently Stanford University School of Medicine. From 1998 to 2012, he was a professor and the chief of neuroradiology at Stanford University, now one of the nation’s top neuroradiology divisions. He has trained over a hundred neuroradiologists, many of whom are leaders in the field throughout the world.

Universally recognized as one of the world’s premier experts in the field, Atlas has received numerous honors and accolades. In recognition of his exceptional scholarship, he has received several honorary memberships in medical societies in the United States and other nations. As a Fulbright Senior Specialist, he conducted research on China’s health-care system. In 2011 he received the highest career achievement honor for a distinguished alumnus from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He currently serves on the advisory board at the University Hospital and Clinical Neurosciences Center in Zurich, Switzerland.

At the Hoover Institution, Dr. Atlas conducts research on health-policy-related topics and is considered to be a leading thinker on the impact of government and the private sector on access, quality, and pricing in health care, global trends in health-care innovation, and key economic issues related to technological advances in medicine. His scholarship is centered on data-driven work; he is also known as a relentless applier of logic and critical thinking.

Atlas is the author of In Excellent Health: Setting the Record Straight on America’s Health Care and, most recently, Restoring Quality Health Care: A Six-Point Plan for Comprehensive Reform at Lower Cost. He has initiated a number of special projects at Hoover, including the Hoover Institution Summer Policy Boot Camp for college students and the new Socialism and Free Market Capitalism: The Human Prosperity Project, serving as co-director for both. Highly regarded for his knowledge and scholarship, he has been sought after as a commentator on health-related issues. His work and interviews have appeared worldwide, in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, Brazil’s IstoÉ, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, Argentina’s La Nación, and India’s The Hindu, and on CNN, the BBC, Fox News, and the PBS NewsHour.

Atlas has ample experience as a policy adviser to government officials in the United States and in other countries. He has served as health-care adviser to a number of candidates for president, as well as having counseled members of Congress on health-care policy; he has testified before Congress on health-policy matters and briefed directors of key federal agencies.

Public service is an increasingly challenging calling. The eagerness of the popular media to organize smears against those willing to serve on ideological grounds only harms the public good. A simple review of Scott Atlas’s career makes it clear that the “non-science” accusation is worse than nonsense. Honest members of both parties should celebrate when someone of Atlas’s caliber joins the government, and they should roundly condemn spurious attacks designed to drive him out.

Huy M. Do, M.D., is a professor of radiology (neuroimaging and neurointervention) and, by courtesy, of neurosurgery at Stanford University Medical Center.

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