UCSF Chancellor J. Michael Bishop announces plan to step down

By Jennifer O'Brien

Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD

Chancellor J. Michael Bishop, MD, who has led the University of California, San Francisco for the past 10 years, today announced plans to step down from his post, effective June 30, 2009.

Bishop, 72, steered UCSF through one of its most expansive periods of growth and achievement, which included development from the ground up of a second major campus, establishment of innovative research programs, and record philanthropic support.

He will continue to serve on the UCSF faculty as a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and as director of the G. W. Hooper Foundation, a biomedical research unit at UCSF.

“Mike Bishop has been a giant in the University of California system – scientist, author, Nobel Prize winner, chancellor,” said UC President Mark G. Yudof. “In his 40 years of service to UCSF, the last 10 as chancellor, he has provided a model for distinguished scholarly inquiry, thoughtful academic leadership and deep commitment to the public good.

“UCSF today is recognized as one of the leading academic medical centers in the world. Under Mike’s leadership UCSF has enhanced its prestige and its contribution to the health of San Francisco, California and the world. UCSF also has further enhanced its position on the cutting edge of biomedical research and patient care through the innovative development of its Mission Bay campus and the new clinical facilities now planned there. Mike and his team deserve tremendous credit for their vision and execution in this regard.

“In the near future we will begin a national and international search for Mike’s replacement. But for today, I thank Mike for his extraordinary service to the University of California.”

In a message to the UCSF campus today, Bishop said: “I will leave office with lasting gratitude to the many people with whom I have worked as chancellor—for their talents, devotion to UCSF and its vital missions, and above all else, for their collegial spirit, which has been the principal pleasure for me in the chancellorship and which has so typified UCSF during my 41 years at this splendid institution. It has been both a privilege and a challenge to have served as your chancellor during one of the more eventful and productive decades in the history of UCSF. The many achievements of UCSF during that decade represent the combined efforts of the entire campus community: I can take little of the credit.”

Bishop joined the UCSF faculty in 1968 and in 1981 assumed the additional post of Hooper director. He was named UCSF chancellor in February 1998. Since 2004, he also has held the Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professorship. While serving as chancellor, Bishop continued to teach medical students and run his distinguished research lab.

Bishop and his colleague Harold Varmus, MD, shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1989 for cancer research. Bishop and Glenn Seaborg, who served as chancellor at UC Berkeley from 1958-61, are the only two Nobel laureates to have served as chancellors in the 10-campus UC system.

As chancellor of UCSF, Bishop has guided one of the premier institutions of higher education in the world, one that includes leading professional schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a top-ranked biomedical research graduate division, two of the nation’s leading hospitals—UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children’s Hospital—and affiliated programs at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Significant achievements under Bishop’s tenure include:

* UCSF Mission Bay: One of the largest academic biomedical research centers in the United States, the campus was launched with a groundbreaking ceremony in 1999. Today it is a thriving environment for scientists and scholars that includes research buildings, housing and a community center, all enhanced by an extensive program of public art designed to create a visually stimulating environment. Completion of the 57 acre campus is expected in 2020, when it will include a new UCSF Medical Center.
* Strategic plan: The first comprehensive campuswide strategic plan was unveiled in 2007, focusing on the overall mission of “advancing health worldwide.” Developed over two years with extensive input from internal and external constituents, the plan makes specific recommendations for guiding UCSF over the next two decades as a global leader. The groundwork for carrying out the plan was laid a few years earlier when Bishop strengthened the leadership structure of the campus by introducing the position of executive vice chancellor/provost.
* Diversity: Committed to promoting diversity in the UCSF community, Bishop laid the foundation for an ongoing program that focuses on diversity outreach and improved communication related to diversity. In 2005, he appointed a campuswide committee to develop a workable strategy, and in 2007 he named a director to shepherd the newly created program.
* UCSF Institute for Regeneration Medicine: In August 2008, construction began on the new headquarters for the UCSF IRM, a major institute for stem cell and tissue biology research with the goal of developing therapies for such conditions as Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The facility is the first research building to be constructed on the UCSF Parnassus Heights campus in more than 40 years.
* Fundraising: UCSF achieved record numbers in fundraising. In FY 2007-08, the campus raised $366 million in private support in cash, the highest amount of private support received by UCSF in one year. From 1998-2005, the campus engaged in the largest fundraising campaign in its 144-year history and raised $1.6 billion, exceeding the $1.4 billion goal. The campaign funds supported the first phase of construction of UCSF Mission Bay, along with other initiatives.
* Top rankings: The campus, its schools and the Medical Center maintained or enhanced their premier status.

  In 2007, UCSF ranked third nationally – and first in California – in total funding from the National Institutes of Health, an indication of the quality and depth of the UCSF research enterprise. The Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy all ranked first nationally in NIH funding and the School of Medicine ranked third. Both the campus and the School of Medicine ranked first nationally among public institutions in NIH support.

  A 2007 report in the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked the “scholarly productivity” of UCSF faculty as third among all universities and research institutes worldwide, just behind Harvard and Cal Tech. According to National Science Foundation data for 2007, UCSF was second among all universities in the U.S. in total expenditures on research and development.

  All four schools, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children’s Hospital ranked among the best in the country in 2008 surveys by US News and World Report.

* UCSF Global Health Sciences: Established in 2003, GHS serves as a foundation to the UCSF commitment to global health and to the care of vulnerable populations at home and throughout the world. GHS now has scores of active programs in other countries that integrate care-giving with training and research.
* QB3 and CTSI: Two major multi-disciplinary research programs were established.

  The state-funded California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, known as QB3, was founded in 2000 at three UC campuses: San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz. An unprecedented research collaboration, QB3 incorporates the quantitative sciences—mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering – into discovery efforts that focus on creating new technologies for improving human health.

  The UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute is the country’s largest federally funded CTSI, which is designed to drive basic research discoveries toward patient care. In 2006, UCSF received a highly competitive NIH grant for $100 million over five years to support the Institute.

* Work-life balance: Bishop made creation of a supportive work environment that fosters a balance between professional and personal life a priority under his leadership, with the effort involving several committees of faculty, staff and students to bring in a range of voices on key issues. He supported the expansion of child care services at UCSF sites, which will soon result in tripling the capacity for enrollment

  He also established a Council of Faculty Life, a director position to spearhead faculty mentoring, a leadership training program for staff career advancement, and a funding program that provides support to departments for faculty members taking childbearing leave.

* Recovery from merger: Two years after assuming the UCSF leadership, Bishop led UCSF Medical Center through a successful recovery—both in its financial picture and in its national status as an academic health center—following a failed merger with Stanford Medical Center. The merger was implemented in 1997, one year before Bishop became chancellor, and a de-merger occurred in 2000.

While Bishop was best known for his pioneering research as a cancer scientist before he assumed the helm of UCSF, his road to leadership began years before he became chancellor. In the 1970s, he led development of the Program in Biological Sciences which established a single interdisciplinary doctoral and postdoctoral program that spanned UCSF departments. The concept revolutionized the way UCSF teaches and conducts research, and fostered the collaborative spirit for which UCSF today is distinguished worldwide. He also was, and remains, a vigorous advocate for science education and increased public investment in scientific research.

Bishop has received numerous honors for his scientific investigations. The 1989 Nobel Prize awarded to the Bishop-Varmus team recognized their discovery of proto-oncogenes, normal genes that can be converted to cancer genes by genetic damage. Their work eventually engendered the recognition that all cancer probably arises from damage to normal genes, and provided new strategies for the detection and treatment of cancer.

Bishop also has been honored with the 2003 National Medal of Science and appointment as member and chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board, which was made by President Bill Clinton.

He is the author of more than 300 research publications and reviews, and of the book How to Win the Nobel Prize: An Unexpected Life in Science, published by Harvard University Press.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.