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

By Kirsten Michener

UCSF Medal

UCSF will award its highest honor-the UCSF Medal-to four civic and scientific leaders at a special event on Wednesday, April 15.

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 will also recognize the faculty recipients of the University’s top research and teaching awards.

The recipients of the 2009 medal are:

  • DOROTHY BAINTON, MD, a UCSF professor emerita, researcher and administrator who was the first woman to head a department in the UCSF School of Medicine and who has long been a champion of increased leadership roles for women in academia.
  • WILLIAM K. BOWES, JR., a Bay Area venture capitalist and founder of US Venture Partners, who has channeled many of his investments and philanthropic donations toward advancing medical research and improving health care.
  • DOLORES HUERTA, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America, labor leader and organizer, and tireless advocate of farmworkers’ rights. 
  • ROBERT S. LANGER, SCD, a world-renowned inventor and biomedical engineer known as the father of controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering.

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

  • ELIZABETH BLACKBURN, PHD, Morris Herzstein Endowed Professor in Biology and Physiology, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, School of Medicine: Faculty Research Lecturer Award.
  • BERNARD LO, MD, professor, Department of Medicine; director, Program in Medical Ethics; and co-director, Policy and Ethics Core of the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, School of Medicine: Distinguished Clinical Research Lecturer Award.
  • CONAN MACDOUGALL, PHARMD, MAS, assistant professor, clinical pharmacy, School of Pharmacy: Distinction in Teaching Award.
  • BARBARA DREW, RN PHD, professor, Department of Physiological Nursing, School of Nursing: Distinction in Teaching Award.
  • PRISCILLA HSUE, MD, assistant adjunct professor, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine: Distinction in Mentoring Award.
  • LISA BERO, PHD, professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy, and faculty member, Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies: Distinction in Mentoring Award.

Additional information on the medal winners follows:

  • DOROTHY BAINTON, MD: Bainton retired from UCSF in 2004 after an extraordinary and groundbreaking rise through the University ranks and 42 years of dedicated service.  Throughout her career at UCSF, she was an outspoken advocate of the promotion of women in academic medicine and a mentor to many women who aspired to reach the professional heights she herself had achieved.  After starting in 1963 as a postdoctoral fellow and researcher in the UCSF Department of Pathology, Bainton became a full professor in 1981, and six years later was appointed department chair, the first woman to hold that position in any department within the School of Medicine.  In 1994, she was appointed vice chancellor for academic affairs after having chaired the Academic Senate the previous year.  In addition to her advocacy work, she made significant contributions to the field of pathology through her research into the development and function of hematopoietic cells in bone marrow, which give rise to all of the body’s mature blood cell types.  She has received numerous honors, including membership in the Institute of Medicine and serving as president of the American Association of Pathologists (now the American Society for Investigative Pathology).
  • WILLIAM K. BOWES, JR.: Bowes has donated his own money and time over the years to advancing education, medicine and science, and has long been a strong supporter of UCSF, in addition to founding US Venture Partners in 1981 and channeling a large percentage of the firm’s more than $1.8 billion in investments toward the medical industry.  He currently serves on the board of directors of the UCSF Foundation and was the chairman of the Mission Bay Capital Campaign. He is also on the advisory committee of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), which is headquartered at UCSF.  In 2006, the William K. Bowes Jr. Foundation was one of six organizations that collectively committed $14 million to set in motion California’s funding of stem cell research while the state’s own funding efforts were held up by lawsuits. Beyond UCSF, Bowes serves on boards and committees of several civic, arts, education, and science organizations. He is active on the executive committee of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and on the boards of the Asian Art Museum, Grace Cathedral, and Hoover Institution.  He recently retired as board chair of the Exploratorium.
  • DOLORES HUERTA: A longtime community organizer, Huerta has spent her life using grassroots activism to achieve meaningful social change, both in her home state of California and throughout the country.  In 1962, she co-founded with César Chávez the National Farm Workers Association, which eventually became known as the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO. As the organization’s main negotiator, she secured many rights and protections that had previously been denied to farmworkers, including medical and pension plans, unemployment benefits, and protection from harmful pesticides.  Huerta lobbied against federal guest worker programs and spearheaded legislation in the mid-1980s that granted amnesty to farmworkers who had lived, worked and paid taxes in the U.S. for many years but were denied the benefits of citizenship. Her efforts resulted in the Immigration Act of 1985, which granted amnesty to 1.4 million of the nation’s farmworkers.  Since 2003, she has served as president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation in Bakersfield, Calif., which is dedicated to community organizing. She also teaches community organizing at the University of Southern California.
  • ROBERT S. LANGER, SCD: Langer is the most cited engineer in history, with more than 1,000 articles to his name and more than 600 issued or pending patents worldwide.  He is currently a professor of chemical and biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is one of 14 Institute Professors, MIT’s highest faculty honor.  Working in a lab at Children’s Hospital-Boston in the mid-1970s, Langer devised a way to release a stream of large organic molecules into the tissues of lab animals, thereby ushering in a revolutionary system of controlled drug delivery. Since then, he has also pioneered a remote-controlled system in which a drug’s rate of release can be varied using ultrasound, electric pulses and magnetic fields.  Langer has been very influential in the relatively new field of tissue engineering. Using tailor-made polymers, he provided a structure for colonizing cells that can eventually form the foundation upon which cells grow into a new, functioning organ.  Hi honors include the National Medal of Science, Charles Stark Draper Prize, and 2008 Millennium Prize, the world’s largest technology prize. He is one of few people and the youngest at age 43 to be elected to all three U.S. National Academies. In 2001, CNN and Time magazine named him one of the 100 most important people in America.

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.  For further information, visit www.ucsf.edu.