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Eugene Bauer, M.D., Stanford Medical School dean extraordinaire

Eugene Bauer, M.D., is an extraordinary man. As dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, this 54-year-old Los Altos resident presides over one of the premier medical schools in the country.

As a noted dermatologist, he advises his students to read Sherlock Holmes.

And as a man who keeps life in perspective, he collects frog neckties. He has about 100.

"When anyone finds a frog tie, they bring it to me," Bauer said. And he wears them.

The day of our interview, black frogs leap-frogged over each other on a red silk background, standing out against Bauer's crisply starched white button-down shirt.

We sat in an ell of his office, in comfortable Wedgewood-blue wing chairs, and he talked about the hats he wears as dean of the medical school.

The obvious first task is administration of the medical school.

More than 7,000 students applied for the 86 spots in the medical school class that entered in the fall of 1996. The median age for that class is 23, "the vast majority below the age of 25, 18 held or were expecting advanced degrees (by the time they entered medical school) and 43 percent are women," Bauer said.

"Stanford (medical school) is unique in its attractiveness."

The item most cited by students as a draw, Bauer said, is the Medical Student Scholars Project. This program allows students in the medical school to do research in the labs of famous faculty.

They are paid a stipend for their work, Bauer said, which enables the students to graduate with less debt than students from other schools.

And it gives them an opportunity to publish. Half of the 1996 class had published work by the time of graduation, Bauer said.

"It's quite an impressive program."

The other half of Bauer's time, these days, is spent in work and meetings regarding the proposed merger of the medical centers of Stanford and the University of California-San Francisco.

"This has never been done before," Bauer said, "merging the clinical aspects of a public and private institution.

"We share values, of excellence, of the best in scientifically-based medicine."

The medical schools will remain separate.

The merger was approved in November and is scheduled to become final in July.

"But it's been challenged," Bauer said, "and is an issue in the background." Some have questioned whether the UC regents have the constitutional right to merge their public medical center with a private one.

Bauer is one of three representatives from Stanford who serves on the 15-member board of directors of UCSF-Stanford Health Care.

Stanford President Gerhard Casper and Professor Judith Swain, M.D., also serve.

To compensate for the time he spends on the merger, he works with "an array of senior associates," he said.

When Bauer became dean on April 1, 1995, the merger was "just an inkling." Now the two institutions are close to the "creation of a single clinical service."

In addition to medical school administration and merger activity, Bauer tries to keep his finger, "at least my pinkie finger," in dermatology research.

A graduate of Northwestern University Medical School in 1967, Bauer came to Stanford in 1988 from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

He began at Stanford as chairman of the dermatology department and is known for his work on epidermolysis bullosa, a hereditary blistering skin disease.

Bauer considers dermatology "a very visual specialty." So he has his students read Sherlock Holmes in "A Study in Scarlet."

"In it, (Sir Arthur) Conan Doyle talks about paying attention to what your eyes are truly seeing," Bauer said.

He gives his students a visual final exam.

After administrating, merger meetings, teaching and research, there isn't much time left in the life of Gene Bauer.

This lean, wiry man said he gets by on "not much sleep," about five hours a night. During the wee hours, between 2 and 4 a.m., he reads "a lot of biography."

Bauer and Gloria, his wife of 31 years, have four children, aged 29, 26, 23 and 20. Gloria is chairwoman of the Los Altos Planning Commission.

A favorite get-away, Bauer said, is a week in London with Gloria.

The man who collects frog neckties is also a doctor who admits he likes doughnuts.

In fact, he considers Lucky Donuts on State Street in Los Altos the best in the area.

Truly an extraordinary man.

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