Disrupting Medicine with Dr. Henry Randall

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  • Published on September 24, 2015
  • Last Updated May 11, 2020

Henry-Randall-e1442617703405Dr. Henry Randall is the Division chief, adult and pediatric transplantation at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and is bringing the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE) to St. Louis. Whether he’s working to expand the organ transplant program as a surgeon and leader, launching a startup, or bringing practicing physicians together to solve the problems they see in their practices, Dr. Henry Randall is bringing entrepreneurial energy to healthcare.

What do transplant surgery and entrepreneurship have to do with each other?

To be a transplant surgeon,  you have to be innovative and creative. As a division chief I have to have a business mind, too, even though the program was started before I moved here. Both areas mean that I have to work with a team of experts in their own disciplines, bringing them together in ways they aren’t used to – which is really a big part of entrepreneurship.

Why do they matter?

On the transplant side, we give a small number of people second chances at life. To me this is a great privilege. Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to make a difference in far more lives. A new glucometer or biomechanical pancreas may impact millions of people instead of the few thousand kidneys and livers I might be able to transplant in my lifetime.

What’s something that might surprise us about transplant medicine?

The misconceptions people still have, like that rich people get preferential treatment and how many people think it’s still experimental.

Where do you get inspiration?

Helping the new SLU School of Medicine MEDLaunch students turn their observations into products and businesses to take to market.

If time and money were not a factor, what would you spend your time doing?

3D printing of organs – kidneys, pancreases, bronchial trees for the lungs and livers – is starting to become viable. I’d love to spend my time at the leading edge of that – something that’s never been done before.

When have you failed and what did you learn?

I didn’t get into medical school the first time I applied. That’s not unique – you learn to do the learning on your own, find a way to get involved in research, do whatever it takes to persevere.

Imagine you spend a long flight between any two people that have ever lived – who are they and what do you talk about?

I’d love to re-meet Rosa Parks now that I’m an adult. She lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up, but I never knew her as an adult. Also Ansel Adams, to climb into his head and see what he saw and what motivated him and gave him the eye for his photographs.

Favorite guilty pleasure?

Spending money on my cameras and lenses. I bought a drone with a camera recently to start playing with aerial photography. If I like it enough I might get a Phantom 3. My other guilty pleasure is jazz – I love seeing live jazz with Tim Cunningham, my saxophone player friend.

What keeps you up at night?

Patients. Ideas. I don’t sleep a lot; that’s just my physiology.

What current problem would you like to solve?

Diabetes is a horrible, horrible disease. My sister was a victim of it last year.

Where do you spend the most time?

At the hospital. About 25% in the operating room and doing direct patient care, 50% doing administrative – since I just took over the program and we’re in a building phase – and consulting work, 10% of time in teaching and advising students. The balance is in the entrepreneurial space.

When do you live by routines? What are those routines?

Every time I do an operation, I say a prayer or have a moment of meditation and ask, “Guide my mind.”

What can you not live without?

Family – both immediate and extended family.

What’s your go-to tool for the tough stuff – the haters, the setbacks, the critics, those that don’t get what you’re doing and why?

Results. You can’t beat results.

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