UCSF Achievements

January 10, 2003

* The University of California, San Francisco is one of the world’s premier health-sciences universities, a leader in biomedical research, patient care, higher education and public service.

* UCSF is one of the top-ranked health-science institutions in the country in the award of federal dollars from the National Institutes of Health. The grants fuels research in such fields as cancer, heart disease, stroke, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV and pediatric illnesses.

* UCSF is renowned for its excellence in educating and training students in the health professions. The UCSF Schools of Dentistry, Nursing, Medicine and Pharmacy and the Graduate Division all rank among the nation’s most prestigious advanced study programs in the health sciences.

* UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children’s Hospital are among the top-ranked hospitals in the country according to U.S. News and World Report, as are many UCSF clinical specialties, including the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery.

* Within the City and County of San Francisco, UCSF is the second largest employer, with more than 17,000 employees.

* Research and clinical milestones

* UCSF, a pioneer in the field of human embryonic stem cell research, is one of only two academic institutions in the nation that derived human embryonic stem cells that qualified for inclusion on the National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Registry (2001). The University is now making these cells available to scientists around the world for studies on the potential of embryonic stem cells for treating such diseases as diabetes and heart disease.

* Three UCSF scientists have won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine:

* * In 1997, Stanley Prusiner, MD, won the prize for his discovery of the prion, a novel infectious pathogen that causes a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow” disease. The discovery could lead to insights into more common neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s diseases.

* * In 1989, Harold Varmus, MD, and J. Michael Bishop, MD, won the prize for the discovery of proto-oncogenes, normal genes that they showed had the potential to convert to cancer genes. The discovery transformed the way that scientists look at cancer and leading to new strategies for detection and treatment.

* In 1997, UCSF scientists discovered that gene activity can be manipulated to alter lifespan, evidenced by research showing that changes in a singe gene in the roundworm more than doubled the creature’s life span.

* In 1985, UCSF scientists co-discovered telomerase, a novel enzyme now a central focus of study as a target for treating cancer and age-related and degenerative disorders.

* In 1983, UCSF scientists co-discovered HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), the virus that causes AIDS.

* In 1981, UCSF scientists conducted the first successful corrective procedure on a baby still in the mother’s womb, pioneering the clinical specialty of fetal diagnosis and in utero treatment.

* In 1980, UCSF scientists developed an artificial lung coating called surfactant, revolutionizing treatment for premature infants, thereby significantly reducing infant mortality rates.

* In 1979, UCSF scientists cloned the gene for human growth hormone, setting the stage for genetically engineered human growth hormone.

* In 1979, UCSF scientists developed a cochlear implant device that enables the deaf to hear.

* In 1977, UCSF scientists isolated the gene for insulin, leading to the mass production of genetically engineered insulin to treat diabetes.

* In 1977, UCSF scientists developed liposomes, microscopic sacs that can safely transport drugs within the body.

* In 1976, UCSF scientists developed an improved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) device for detecting and monitoring disease.

* In 1976, UCSF scientists developed prenatal tests for sickle-cell anemia and thalassemia.

* In 1974, co-discovered recombinant DNA techniques, the fundamental first step in the creation of the biotechnology industry.

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