UCSF History

Experiencing Explosive Changes

In 1982, Julius R. Krevans, MD, became UCSF’s fifth chancellor. A distinguished physician and educator, Krevans’ professional career was devoted to the academic community. He played an important role nationally in developing public policy in medical education and the health sciences, and in advancing biomedical research.

During the 1980s and 1990s, UCSF already was one of the largest recipients of funding from the NIH and was experiencing explosive changes in science, further pushing the need for more research space. Some campus buildings were modernized and others were demolished to make way for construction of new facilities. But to meet the space demand, UCSF leaders also looked beyond Parnassus Heights.

The Parnassus campus had opened the Marilyn Reed Lucia Child Care Center in 1978, and it continued to take on a new look with the opening of the Dental Clinics Building (1980); the new Joseph M. Long Hospital (1983), which was integrated with the existing Moffitt Hospital; Beckman Vision Center and Koret Vision Research Laboratory (1988); and Kalmanovitz Library (1990).

UCSF also began moving into other parts of the city.

The UCSF School of Dentistry opened its Dental Clinics building on the Parnassus campus in 1980.

In the Laurel Heights neighborhood, UCSF bought the Fireman’s Fund building in 1985, renaming it UCSF Laurel Heights. It was planned as a site for pharmacy school laboratory research and instruction, but neighborhood concerns about lab projects forced UCSF to consider other uses for the building. Over the next few years, the building developed as the home for academic desktop research, social and behavioral science departments, and administrative offices.

In the Western Addition, UCSF acquired Mount Zion Hospital in 1990, which became UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion. It served as a second major clinical site and, in 1999, also became home to the first comprehensive cancer center in Northern California to have the National Cancer Institute designation. The center later was named the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.

In 1993, Joseph M. Martin, MD, became UCSF’s sixth chancellor. He and Haile T. Debas, MD, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, were instrumental in leading the discussion and merger with Stanford that created UCSF Stanford Health Care and in gaining critical community support for developing Mission Bay as the site for a second major campus for research and teaching.

The UCSF-Stanford merger was prompted by practical discussions between institutional leaders on how their medical schools and medical centers could share more and compete less in an era of declining federal funding and Medicare payments and of managed care. The talks led to a bold move to establish a merged health care system as a private, nonprofit corporation, keeping the medical schools and medical faculties independent. In 1997, UCSF Stanford Health Care began operating, but the goal of creating a single clinical entity with integrated service lines and increased clinical activity was not accomplished. The merger officially dissolved in spring 2000.

Developing Mission Bay

After a landmark deal struck by Bruce Spaulding, former vice chancellor of University Advancement and Planning at UCSF, Nelson Rising, chief executive officer of Catellus Development Corp. and then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, UCSF broke ground for the Mission Bay campus in 1999.

UCSF leaders spent several years evaluating different sites in all parts of the Bay Area and meeting with civic, business and community members before deciding to keep the second campus in San Francisco. Once occupied by old warehouses and rail yards, the initial Mission Bay campus land parcel included 42.4 acres: 29.2 acres donated by Catellus and 13.2 acres donated by the city of San Francisco. Later, an adjacent 14.5-acre parcel was added as the site for a new UCSF Medical Center, bringing the total campus to about 57 acres. 

UCSF broke ground for a second major campus for teaching and research at Mission Bay in 1999. The first building opened in 2003.

In 1997, Debas became UCSF’s seventh chancellor, agreeing to take the post for one year during the important period when the UCSF-Stanford merger and Mission Bay planning were advancing. He was an internationally renowned surgeon, scientist and teacher, and during his tenure, UCSF became one of the country’s leading centers for transplant surgery, training young surgeons, and basic and clinical research in surgery.

J. Michael Bishop, MD, a noted scientist who was a recipient of both the Lasker Award and Nobel Prize (with Harold Varmus, MD), became the eighth chancellor in 1998.  He is recognized for steering UCSF through one of its most expansive periods of growth and achievement, including developing the Mission Bay campus from the ground up, establishing innovative research programs, and garnering record philanthropic support.

The Mission Bay campus became home to a vibrant community of scientists, scholars, students and staff. The first building, Genentech Hall, was occupied in 2003, followed by Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Hall (2004), Byers Hall, William J. Rutter Center and Mission Bay Housing (2005), University Child Care Center (2006), and Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building (2009), plus new quarters adjacent to the campus for the Orthopaedic Institute (2009).

As chancellor, Bishop, working with Eugene Washington, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost, unveiled the first comprehensive, campuswide strategic plan and laid the foundation for ongoing programs to enrich diversity and create a supportive work environment. UCSF also adopted a new mission: advancing health worldwide™.

Pursuing Continued Excellence

Sam Hawgood, MBBS, a renowned neonatologist and dean of the UCSF School of Medicine, took the helm as UCSF's 10th chancellor in July 2014, having served in the interim position since the previous April. He filled the position left by Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, who was first woman to lead the campus, from 2009 to 2014.

Under Desmond-Hellmann's leadership, UCSF successfully navigated a weak economic environment marked by ongoing cuts in state funding and outlined a plan for continued excellence by focusing on five priorities: patients and health, discovery, education, people and business.

Sam Hawgood, MBBS, became UCSF's  chancellor on July 17, 2014.

Supporting her priorities was the opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF’s Parnassus campus in 2011. The center brings stem cell scientists together under one roof, enhancing their collaborative efforts in developing novel treatments for such diseases as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer.

In addition, the children’s hospital was renamed UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in honor of the donors of a major gift toward a new facility at Mission Bay designed specifically for children and their families, and the Parnassus campus celebrated the opening of the Kirkham Child Care Center, the University's fourth child care facility.

At Mission Bay, 2010 marked the opening of the Smith Cardiovascular Research Building, the new headquarters of the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute. The building features an outpatient clinic providing state-of-the-art services and open, shared labs where researchers focus on understanding cardiovascular disease and developing new treatments.

The Mission Bay campus also hosted groundbreakings for a neurosciences building and a new medical center, setting the stage for additional health care advances in the future. The Neurosciences Laboratory and Clinical Research Building houses clinical and basic research programs seeking cures for intractable neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy.

In 2014, UCSF marked the sesquicentennial of UCSF’s founding as Toland Medical College and 150 years of achievements. 

And in 2015, the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is set to open its doors to patients on Feb. 1. It will be a 289-bed integrated hospital complex and world-class facility serving children, women and cancer patients.


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3