Iris Litt, MD

DCI Research Director and Marron and Mary Elizabeth Kendrick Professor in Pediatrics, Emerita

Iris Litt went from traditional pediatric training at Cornell (New York Hospital) in the late ’60s to designing and running a health care program at New York City’s Juvenile Detention Center while on the faculty of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. After five years, she recreated this model program at the Adolescent Remand Center at Rikers Island Prison, establishing national standards for prison health care.

Dr. Litt joined the faculty at Stanford University (1976) hoping that behavioral scientists would help her to understand and improve health behavior. Here she developed one of the first academic programs in the new field of adolescent medicine and became a Charter Member of the Society for Adolescent Medicine. She subsequently served as its President and Editor-in-Chief of its Journal of Adolescent Health.

As the director of Stanford’s Clayman Institute from 1990-199, Litt, became concerned about the absence of information about women’s health. She addressed questions about gender and adolescent health, highlighting the value of interdisciplinary research. This commitment led to two terms as Director of Stanford’s Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS). Litt’s own research on the impact of eating disorders on pubertal development, sleep disorders, pregnancy prevention resulted in more than 150 scholarly publications and her election to the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. She was selected as one of 100 woman who are “Changing the Face of Medicine” by the National Library of Medicine.

Her belief that many health problems of the elderly originate in childhood led to her appointment to the Advisory Council of Stanford’s Center for Longevity. Now as Marron and Mary Elizabeth Kendrick Professor of Pediatrics (Emerita) and consultant to Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute, her 50- year self-descriptor as “Geriatric Pediatrician” has new meaning.