UCSF to award its highest honor to four civic and scientific leaders

By Corinna Kaarlela

UCSF will award its highest honor—the UCSF Medal—to four civic and scientific leaders at a special event on Wednesday, April 23.

The medal is the University’s most prestigious award, given annually to individuals who have made outstanding personal contributions in areas associated with UCSF’s mission, goal and values. Initiated in 1975, the award replaces the granting of honorary degrees.

UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD, will present the medals at the Founders Day Banquet at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. He also will present the University’s top research and teaching awards to UCSF faculty.

The recipients of the 2008 medal are:

* WILLIE L. BROWN, JR., former speaker of the California State Assembly and former mayor of San Francisco.
* F. WARREN HELLMAN, philanthropist and dedicated supporter of UCSF, San Francisco and the greater community.
* JANET DAVISON ROWLEY, MD, pioneering geneticist and cancer researcher and Blum-Riese Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, and Human Genetics at the University of Chicago.
* EUGENIE C. SCOTT, researcher and activist in the creationism-evolution debate and executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

The recipients of this year’s research and teaching awards are:

* GAIL R. MARTIN, PHD, one of the pioneers in stem cell research and professor in the Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine—Faculty Research Lecturer Award.
* LESLIE Z. BENET, PHD, a pioneer in studies of how drugs perform and persist in the body, which is key to determining proper dosage; professor of biopharmaceutical sciences and pharmaceutical chemistry; and co-director of the Drug Studies Unit, School of Pharmacy—Distinguished Clinical Research Lecturer Award.
* BRADLEY A. SHARPE, MD, assistant clinical professor, Division of Hospital Medicine, School of Medicine—Distinction in Teaching Award.
* BRIAN LEE SCHMIDT, DDS, MD, PHD, associate professor, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry—Distinction in Teaching Award.

Additional information on the medal winners follows:

WILLIE L. BROWN, JR.—Widely regarded as an immensely influential politician, Brown has been at the center of California politics, government and civic life for four decades. As mayor of San Francisco, he paved the way for UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, which was jumpstarted by the donation of 30 acres from Catellus Development Corp. and 13 acres from the City and County of San Francisco. In a landmark deal involving Brown, Nelson Rising, CEO of Catellus, and Bruce Spaulding, senior vice chancellor of University Advancement and Planning, UCSF acquired 43 acres of San Francisco real estate at no cost. Helping negotiate this transaction was UCSF volunteer Robert Burke. The donation of land—a gift valued at well over $170 million back then—helped keep UCSF from expanding outside the city. Today, Brown heads the Willie L. Brown Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service. 

F. WARREN HELLMAN—Hellman is the founder and chairman of Hellman & Friedman LLC, one of the country’s top 100 private equity firms, which is based in San Francisco. Over the years, the firm has raised more than $8 billion in capital and invested in approximately 50 job-creating companies. Hellman has been a pioneer in the area of venture capital and private equity, lending his expertise to numerous capital management firms. His civic and philanthropic activities include serving as past chairman and present trustee of the San Francisco Foundation; co-chair of the California Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth; member of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers; and board member of the Committee on Jobs and of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He is well known in the San Francisco music scene for starting the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

JANET ROWLEY—An internationally recognized expert on leukemias and lymphomas, Rowley in the 1970s went against the established view of the cause of cancer when she revealed that specific chromosomal translocations caused specific leukemias. Since then, more than 400 recurring translocations have been identified in different cancers, and the cloning of translocation breakpoints has led to very effective therapy that targets the involved genes. She has received many awards, including those of the American societies of hematology, clinical oncology and human genetics. She is a recipient of the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1996), a shared Lasker Award for work on genetic changes in cancer (1998), and the National Medal of Science (1998). In 2005, she received the Landon Prize for Translational Cancer Research.

EUGENIE C. SCOTT—Scott is an advocate of science education and, for more than two decades, has been the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, a pro-evolution, nonprofit science education organization with members in every state. She has served as chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Anthropological Association and as president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. She also has chaired both the anthropology and education sections of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her research has been in medical anthropology and skeletal biology. She is the author of “Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction” and co-editor (with Glenn Branch) of “Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design Is Wrong for Our Schools.” An internationally recognized expert on the creationism-evolution controversy, she has consulted with the National Academy of Sciences and several state departments of education.