2010 Year in Review

This past year UCSF has furthered its mission of advancing healthcare worldwide by continuing to make major medical advances through scientific breakthroughs, leading patient care and innovative campus expansions. From the groundbreaking at Mission Bay, which launched UCSF into a new era of bench-to-bedside, to pioneering strategies to fight rare disease and unveiling an imaginative new stem cell research building, UCSF has made strides in advancing the University’s top three priorities – patient care, discovery and education. Here are some of the milestones from 2010:

Changes in Leadership

David Vlahov, PhD, RN, a pioneer in urban health research, expert in global health epidemiology and prolific author, was appointed the new dean of UCSF’s School of Nursing. Vlahov joins the university from the New York Academy of Medicine, where he served as the Senior Vice President of Research and Director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies. Read more Jerolyn [Renee] Chapman Navarro, PharmD, MD was named vice chancellor of Diversity and Outreach in December. Navarro is UCSF’s first vice chancellor charged with creating and maintaining a diverse university environment. Navarro will develop and execute a strategic plan for diversity and inclusion at the campus, and work to recruit and retain faculty, students, trainees and staff. Read more In March, UCSF appointed Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, a preeminent scientist and proven campus leader, to serve as chief academic officer, overseeing all academic and research enterprises of the life sciences university. Bluestone now guides the research and academic enterprise at UCSF, working in close collaboration with the chancellor and the leadership team to advance campus priorities, and oversees campus ethics and compliance. Read more Elazar Harel, PhD, JD, was appointed vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer in January. He oversees both the academic and administrative IT activities for the campus. Read more

Faculty Receive Top Prizes

Professor and chair of the UCSF Department of Physiology, David Julius, PhD, received the 2010 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine for his groundbreaking work on the sensation of touch. The Shaw Prize is regarded as the preeminent international recognition for scientific achievement among awards originating in Asia. Julius was named the winner of the $1 million prize in May and was cited for “his seminal discoveries” of how the skin senses pain and temperature. Read more UCSF Nobel laureate Stanley B. Prusiner, MD, UCSF professor of neurology and director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, received the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for science and technology. Prusiner was recognized for his discovery of and ongoing research on a novel infectious agent, which he named the prion. The prion, composed solely of protein, causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or “mad cow” disease, and other related fatal neurodegenerative diseases in animals and humans. Read more Stem cell researcher Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, an investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and a professor of anatomy at UCSF, won the esteemed Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology for significant contribution to humankind’s scientific, cultural and spiritual development. Yamanaka received the prize for his discovery of a method of reprogramming adult skin cells to become embryonic-like stem cells. The discovery has opened up the field of stem cell research and dramatically changed the field of cell biology.

Children’s Hospital Receives $100 Million Gift

In June, the UCSF Children’s Hospital received a $100 million gift from San Francisco residents Lynne and Marc Benioff to help fund the construction of its new home at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. The gift was a private donation and is both the largest gift the Benioffs have ever made and the largest gift ever granted specifically to the UCSF Children’s Hospital. In honor of the donors, the existing children’s hospital was officially renamed UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. That name will also apply to the future UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital at Mission Bay, part of a 289-bed integrated hospital complex for children, women and cancer patients scheduled for completion in 2014. Read more

Groundbreaking at Mission Bay

After a decade in the works, UCSF broke ground in October on a state-of-the-art and sustainable medical center at Mission Bay – a 289-bed, 878,000 square-foot complex that promises to transform care for women, children and cancer patients. More than 200 community members, elected officials, donors and UCSF leaders, faculty and staff and patients celebrated the milestone, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, UC President Mark Yudof, UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret and UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond- Hellmann, MD, MPH. Read more

Discovering the Risks Posed by Radiation

Research led by radiologist and epidemiologist Rebecca Smith-Bindman, MD, found a lack of oversight and vast inconsistencies in the amount of radiation patients are exposed to when receiving CT scans. Smith-Bindman concluded that the degree of variation in radiation delivered to patients sent for CT imaging was dramatic, with some patients sent for similar clinical indications receiving 20 times more radiation than others. Her work drew national attention, and Smith-Bindman testified at a hearing held by the House of Representatives earlier this year on medical radiation dose. The FDA has subsequently launched an initiative to reduce unnecessary radiation from medical imaging.

Architectural Evolution

Researchers are settling into their new home in the $123-million stem cell building that was completed on the Parnassus campus earlier this year. The building, perched on a steep slope of Medical Center Way, houses about 25 different stem-cell-research laboratory groups, and will serve as the core of stem cell research throughout UCSF’s campuses. The building, a series of four split-level floors with terraced roofs, is oriented to receive maximum sunlight. Read more

Major Advances in Rare Childhood Cancers

Two significant steps were made in fighting childhood disease this year. An eight-year clinical trial conducted by senior author Katherine Matthay, MD, chief of pediatric oncology at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, resulted in a new approach to treating a particularly aggressive childhood cancer. The study found that children with intermediate risk, stages three and four neuroblastoma had a 96 percent survival rate with far less chemotherapy than previously believed necessary, allowing diminished exposure to harmful side effects caused by cancer drugs. Read more Mignon Loh, MD, a pediatric cancer specialist at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, discovered a familial link in rare childhood leukemia called juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia, or JMML. This link has significant implications, the researchers say, for improving diagnosis and treatment of the disease. Read more

Creating New Kidneys

In September, researchers unveiled a prototype model of the first implantable artificial kidney, a development that one day could eliminate the need for dialysis. The device, which would include thousands of microscopic filters as well as a bioreactor to mimic the metabolic and water-balancing roles of a real kidney, is being developed in a collaborative effort by engineers, biologists and physicians nationwide, led by Shuvo Roy, PhD, in the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. Read more

Watching Tumors in Real Time

A new technology for imaging prostate cancer shows real-time tumor metabolism, enabling physicians to rapidly assess the presence and aggressiveness of prostate tumors. It’s the first time researchers have used this technology to conduct metabolic imaging in a human patient in real time and represents a revolutionary approach to assessing the precise outlines of a tumor, its response to treatment and how quickly it is growing. Read more

Economic Impact Report

This year the University released its first economic impact report since 2003, identifying UCSF as one of the principal economic engines in San Francisco and the nine-county Bay Area. As the second-largest employer in the city and the fifth-largest in the Bay Area, UCSF generates more than 39,000 jobs. It was also the first report showing Mission Bay as a catalyst in the biotech industry, contributing to San Francisco’s share of Bay Area-occupied biotech space growth from 1.3 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent in 2009. Read more