New Chancellor Gets to Work at UCSF

By Lisa Cisneros

Sue Desmond-Hellmann

UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, is meeting with members of the campus community today, her first official day on the job as the leader of a university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.

Desmond-Hellmann, 51, is a physician, pioneering cancer researcher and biotechnology industry executive who most recently served as president of product development for Genentech. She began her career at UCSF as a medical resident 27 years ago and today returns as the University’s ninth chancellor and first woman to serve at the helm.

“I am delighted to be back at UCSF,” said Desmond-Hellmann, who came to the University as an intern after earning a medical degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. “It has always been clear that UCSF is a special place that possesses a unique ability to attract bright people who are passionate about making a difference in the world of health.”

In one of her first official acts as chancellor, Desmond-Hellmann named Carol Moss to the new position of vice chancellor for University Development and Alumni Relations at UCSF.

“We’re very lucky to have her,” said Desmond-Hellmann of Moss during a brief interview his morning.

The same has been said about Desmond-Hellmann. Members of the campus community are eager and excited about meeting Desmond-Hellmann, who brings to UCSF a new perspective, passion for patient care and proven success leading a major institution.

Desmond-Hellmann says she understands that the campus community is looking to her to help lead the way forward during challenging economic times. “Yes, we are faced with some daunting challenges brought on by sharp reductions in state funding,” said Desmond-Hellmann, a self-described optimist. “But overall, UCSF remains strong. I am confident that this strength — as well as the commitment of our faculty, staff and students — will continue to serve us well.”

Desmond-Hellmann succeeds Mike Bishop, MD, who served as UCSF’s chancellor for the past 11 years, a remarkable tenure which includes the birth of the 57-acre UCSF Mission Bay, one of the nation’s largest academic biomedical research centers. A Nobel laureate, Bishop 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.

Since her appointment was approved by UC Regents on May 7, Desmond-Hellmann has been actively engaged at UCSF, meeting with campus leaders, individuals and groups to listen and learn about the challenges and opportunities facing UCSF. In the days and weeks ahead, she will continue to get to know the campus and community at large, meeting with neighbors, elected officials and donors.

Desmond-Hellmann shared her story and ideas about the future during her introductory speech at UCSF on May 8. Watch her introductory speech here.

Photo by Susan Merrell

Related Links:

For New Chancellor, Return to UCSF Is a Homecoming
UCSF Today, May 8, 2009

Campus Community Welcomes New Chancellor During Era of Change
UCSF Today, May 7, 2008

Susan Desmond-Hellmann named UC San Francisco chancellor
UCSF News Office, May 7, 2009

Biography of Susan Desmond-Hellmann
UCSF News Office, May 1, 2009

Charlie Rose: A panel discussion about biotechnology
Nov. 14, 2004