2004: The Year in Review

By Lisa Cisneros on January 13, 2005

Susan Fisher

UCSF had another productive year - proving its global leadership as a health sciences campus in research, patient care and teaching. One of the major stories of the year was the campuswide collaboration to arrive at a long-range plan for the future development of the clinical, research and academic enterprise after years of discussion. What follows are just a few of the highlights of 2004. Universitywide Describing it as a "special day in the history of UCSF," campus officials in September shared their vision for the future of patient care, education and research at the top-ranked academic medical center. Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center, and David A. Kessler, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs, led a series of six town hall meetings with faculty and staff before announcing the preferred option to replace the aging medical center. The long-term plan, to be phased in over the next 15 years, includes constructing new buildings and renovating and expanding existing facilities at UCSF's three major campus locations: Mission Bay, Parnassus and Mount Zion. Chancellor Mike Bishop approved the plan for conveyance to the UC Regents in March. (See story.) In addition, UCSF responded to a national flu vaccine shortage and added to its growing collection of public art, installing works at Mission Bay, Parnassus Heights and Laurel Heights. School of Dentistry Under the guidance of Troy Daniels and John Greenspan, the UCSF School of Dentistry launched an international registry for the study of Sjögren's Syndrome. Through a five-year, $12 million contract with the National Institutes of Health, this UCSF-based group of international clinical and laboratory investigators is developing standardized diagnostic criteria, collecting clinical data and specimens from patients and providing resources to researchers studying Sjögren's syndrome. (See story.) In other news, Susan Fisher, professor in the new Cell & Tissue Biology Department, was widely covered in the popular and scientific press this past year for her work to derive human embryonic stem cell lines using new techniques that would make them eligible under Food and Drug Administration standards for transplantation into people. Fisher, along with stem cell researcher Renee Reijo Pera, UCSF associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, will co-direct a new Human Embryonic Stem Cell Center. Fisher was also named the 2004 UCSF School of Dentistry Faculty Research Lecturer. (See story.) In addition, Deborah Greenspan, interim chair of the Department of Orofacial Sciences, was recently named Vice President of the International Association of Dental Research (IADR). She is the fifth member of the School of Dentistry faculty to serve in that capacity for the prestigious oral health research organization, and will proceed to the presidency of IADR in 2007. School of Medicine The UCSF School of Medicine maintained its high national ranking in the 2004 annual survey of the best graduate schools, conducted and published by US News & World Report. As it did in 2003, the medical school ranks among the top ten for both research-based and primary care education and training - one of only two universities to have a high rank in both categories. Signaling an important milestone in its pioneering stem cell efforts, UCSF School of Medicine announced in April that the first director of its Developmental and Stem Cell Biology Program is Arnold R. Kriegstein, formerly scientific director of the Neural Stem Cell Center at Columbia University. (See story.) In June, Neil J. Risch, who is recognized internationally for innovative genetics research on a range of diseases, was named director of the new UCSF Center for Human Genetics at UCSF. The center brings together multidisciplinary researchers to identify genes that contribute to human diseases and variation in response to drugs. The new center is in the UCSF School of Medicine, with participation and support from the UCSF School of Pharmacy. (See story.) In September, Joseph DeRisi was named a 2004 MacArthur Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed on an individual in the United States. DeRisi, who designs and builds microarrays -- a technology in which gene activity is revealed on a glass slide -- to carry out his studies on infectious diseases, says he plans to use the MacArthur funding to "drill deeper into malaria." (See story.) And among many research breakthroughs, scientists reported in November that psychological stress may exact its toll, at least in part, by affecting molecules believed to play a key role in cellular aging and, possibly, disease development. (See story.) School of Nursing The UCSF School of Nursing ranked No. 1 among US schools of nursing in funding from the National Institutes of Health, and released its first strategic plan, a blueprint for progress through 2009, under Dean Kathleen Dracup. The school was chosen to take a leadership role in patient safety. The Betty Irene Moore Foundation awarded grants for an accelerated doctoral program and for outcome measurement of a nursing initiative to improve patient safety in the Bay Area. (See story.) The school also celebrated the naming of two new endowed chairs: Sandra Weiss, Eschbach Chair in Mental Health Nursing, and Marylin Dodd, Sharon Lamb Chair in Symptom Management and the appointment of Sally Rankin as chair of Department of Family Health Care Nursing. The school also congratulated Zina Mirsky, who was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. award for her support of diversity at UCSF; Pilar Bernal De Pheils and Ruth Malone, who were both inducted as Fellows in the Academy of Nursing; William Holzemer, who was inducted into the Institute of Medicine, becoming the eighth faculty member in the School of Nursing to be elected in the IOM; and Patricia Benner, who was one of three UCSF faculty members named by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to direct a new three-year project on the state of nursing education in the US. (See story.) School of Pharmacy The UCSF School of Pharmacy's Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, under the leadership of Professor and Chair Kathy Giacomini, established the UCSF Center for Drug Development Sciences at the University of California Washington Center, located in Washington, DC. (Watch UCSF Today for more on this story.) The school also initiated a conference in Hanoi on expanding the role of pharmacy to combat the growing HIV threat to Vietnam. The October conference was in partnership with UCSF Global Health Sciences, Hanoi University of Pharmacy and others. (See story.) In other news, after the school switched successfully to a common national application for its doctor of pharmacy program, applications skyrocketed. Under the direction of Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, the pharmacy school also launched a five-year planning process to identify its strategic and operational goals within the context of University activities and national science and clinical developments. In November, faculty members working within the school in chemistry and engineering were recognized in Chemical and Engineering News for ranking No. 1 among academic institutions receiving federal support for chemical research and development. Within the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry research spans the range from discovering the molecular details of biological processes to structure determination and subsequently to drug design, including protein engineering. In February, the school received its largest-ever gift of more than $6 million from 1915 alumnus Carl Lovotti. {pagebreak}

UCSF Medical Center

UCSF Medical Center rose to No. 6 among "America's Best Hospitals," and UCSF Children's Hospital was recognized as the highest-quality pediatric facility in California and No. 11 in the US, according to the annual "America's Best Hospitals" issue of US News & World Report. The magazine reviewed more than 6,000 hospitals, whittling down the list to fewer than 200 leaders in health care. (See story.) Another indication of excellence came in September when UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children's Hospital again earned excellent ratings in a statewide survey sponsored by the California Healthcare Foundation and California Institute for Health Systems Performance. The survey involved more than 36,000 patients who spent at least one night in one of 200 participating California hospitals. In other news, Ernest Ring was appointed in August at chief medical officer (CMO) after serving 22 years at UCSF, and Robert M. Wachter, chief of the medical service and chair of the patient safety committee, received the John M. Eisenberg Award, the nation's top honor in the fields of patient safety and quality, in October. The winners were selected by the National Quality Forum and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). (See story.) In June, the medical center and its home care services received full accreditation from JCAHO's national standards for health care and safety. Mission Bay Campus A little more than a year after the first faculty member moved to UCSF Mission Bay, lung biology researcher Thiennu Vu became the first scientist to occupy the second research building at the new campus. Vu and her five-person laboratory team, who are part of the Lung Biology Center, moved to the Genetics, Development and Behavioral Sciences Building in February. (See story.) In August, a 36-ton whole body superconducting magnet was delivered to the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) building, which will open in early 2005. The arrival of the magnet - one of the most powerful ever built for magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy -- signaled a big step in the quest to develop ways to image the human body in unprecedented detail and to greatly refine methods to diagnose and treat disease. (See story.) San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center The San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center community celebrated the grand opening and dedication of a new imaging center for breast cancer detection in May at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (SFGHMC). Named the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Center, the new state-of-the-art facility focuses on treating the underserved population. (See story.) In July, UCSF and SFGHMC secured a grant from the Avon Foundation for continued operation of the mobile mammography program. And in September, UCSF Medical Center and SFGHMC rolled out a new mobile eye service to provide a full spectrum of eye services for eight community health centers of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. In November, the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation, whose sole purpose is to fund projects that will enhance patient care and comfort at SFGHMC, was the beneficiary of "the Hearts in San Francisco" auction. Gladstone Institutes After a quarter century of life sciences research, the J. David Gladstone Institutes dedicated in December its new state-of-the-art building for basic research at Mission Bay. The new building -- the first biomedical neighbor to the UCSF Mission Bay campus -- houses the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology (GIVI) and the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease. (See story.) And high honors went to Joseph "Mike" McCune, a senior investigator at the GIVI and a UCSF professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology, who was named a recipient of the first-ever National Institutes of Health Director's Pioneer Award in September. McCune is recognized for his research into the mechanisms by which HIV causes immunodeficiency, particularly understanding immune responses that might prevent the development of AIDS in HIV-infected people. (See story.) Among research news, scientists at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease resolved a mystery long associated with Huntington's disease thanks to a specially designed microscope that allows them to track changes in cells, including those associated with neurodegeneration, over long lengths of time. (See story.) Stem Cell Initiative Several high-profile UCSF scientists campaigned for Proposition 71, the state stem cell initiative which won voter approval in the November election. The measure created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, that authorizes $3 billion in bonds to support research using human embryonic, adult and cord stem cells. UCSF was the center of media attention in December when the first meeting of the stem cell oversight group known as the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) convened at Laurel Heights. David A. Kessler, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs, was among those to take the oath of office. Kessler was joined by two other members with UCSF affiliations, patient advocate Jeff Sheehy, deputy director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute and Phyllis Preciado, a professor at UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program. All three were officially elected to the ICOC by committee members. (See story.) San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center Among research highlights at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry Kristine Yaffe found that elderly people with metabolic syndrome -- a constellation of cardiovascular risk factors including excessive fat around the abdomen, high blood pressure and high blood glucose levels -- are at greater risk for cognitive impairment and decline than those without the syndrome. "What's bad for the body turns out to be bad for the brain," Yaffe says. (See story.) And after reviewing records of more than 15,000 sigmoidoscopies performed for routine colorectal cancer screening between 1997 and 2001, staff physician Louise Walter found that the procedure may not be the best test for older people, especially women, who are twice as likely as men to have inadequate exams. (See story.) Source: Lisa Cisneros