2011 Year in Review: UCSF's Institutional and Individual Accomplishments

By UCSF News Office

UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony

UCSF Chancellor Sue Desmond-Hellmann cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the opening of the Teaching and Learning Center while campus leaders and students look on during the weeklong celebration in the library on the Parnassus campus.



The year 2011 turned out to be a fantastic one for UCSF as measured by myriad institutional and individual accomplishments that indicate its collective strength and stature as one of world's top health sciences universities.

Despite a tough economy and ongoing financial challenges, UCSF started the year off celebrating the much-anticipated openings of a state-of-the-art stem cell research building and a high-tech educational center for teaching and learning — both on the flagship Parnassus campus. These projects, financed through public and private funds, are key investments in realizing UCSF's vision of becoming the world's preeminent health sciences innovator and educating the next generation of health professionals.

In February, the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine opened its doors at the Mount Zion campus, offering the best of modern medicine with established healing practices from around the world and becoming a hub for research, education and patient care in integrative medicine.

And the success story that is UCSF Mission Bay continues as the University marked a milestone in October with a “topping out” ceremony of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, an innovative 289-bed complex to feature three separate hospitals, specializing in serving children, women, and cancer patients. The medical center complex is on pace to open in early 2015. 

One of the biggest victories in 2011 came when the National Institutes of Health awarded UCSF's Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) a second, five-year award of $112 million to further its work toward encouraging the rapid translation of research to improve patient and community health. 

True to form, faculty and leaders at UCSF continue to garner much-deserved recognition and rewards from prestigious institutions and associations in medicine and science. Among these individual achievements: Mark Laret, chief executive officer of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, was elected as chair of the Association of Americal Medical Colleges Board of Directors; Frank McCormick, PhD, director of the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, was elected as president-elect of the American Association for Cancer Research; and John Roberts, MD, chief of transplant surgery, was elected vice president/president-elect of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing Board of Directors.

Here are just some of the highlights among the many institutional and individual feats of 2011.


UCSF Opens Teaching and Learning Center

UCSF opened the Teaching and Learning Center one of the nation’s first interprofessional, team-based simulation learning centers, to prepare future doctors, nurses, pharmacists and dentists for a changing health care landscape. The 22,000-square foot center has transformed the second floor of the UCSF Kalmanovitz Library into a high-tech learning center that will serve as a core element of the University’s ongoing efforts to foster collaboration and innovation among students in the health professions. Since opening in January, the center has been booked for more than 4,700 hours, and the classrooms have been used for more than 4,000 hours of instruction. Read more

UCSF Expands Industry Partnerships to Advance Health

UCSF signed several key research collaborations this year that aim to support innovative science and share resources to accelerate the translation of basic and clinical research into better solutions for patients. Among the new collaborations is a two-part agreement with the French pharmaceutical company sanofi-aventis announced in January that includes an oncology partnership to focus on accelerating research through the clinical proof-of-concept stage. Sanofi also became the first industry partner to support the UCSF Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research, which funds projects with potentially high impact that might not be funded through traditional sources. Read more

The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building opens today as the headq

The Ray and Dagmar Dolby Regeneration Medicine Building opens today as the headquarters for the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF.


UCSF Opens Stem Cell Research Building

In its quest to further stem cell research to tackle human diseases, UCSF celebrated the opening of the $123 million Ray and Dagmar Dolby Center for Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research on Feb. 9, 2011. The award-winning and architecturally unique building, paid for with state and private funds, is the headquarters for the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCSF, a vast research enterprise which extends across all UCSF campuses and is one of the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the United States.
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UCSF Opens Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine opened its doors at the Mount Zion campus. The Osher building underscores UCSF’s commitment to increasing access to integrative medicine and making it a larger part of the treatment relationship between caregivers and patients. It is the first center of its kind to offer fully developed programs in research, clinical care and education for health care professionals, practitioners and patients seeking an integrated, healing-oriented approach to health.
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UCSF Earns Ten-Year WASC Accreditation

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reaffirmed UCSF’s accreditation across all four schools and the Graduate Division, citing its confidence in UCSF’s capacity to continue achieving its goals for student success into the future. UCSF earned the maximum period of time — 10 years — until its next review by WASC’s Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities. Accreditation by WASC, a nonprofit association, reflects UCSF’s rigorous standards of quality, capacity and effectiveness in its mission, including a special focus on enhancing diversity initiatives, improving education facilities and fostering collaborative education. Read more

UCSF Robotic Pharmacy Improves Patient Safety

UCSF opened its new robotic pharmacy — the hub of UCSF’s integrated medication management system, which combines state-of the-art technology with personalized care. The pharmacy currently serves UCSF hospitals at Parnassus and Mount Zion and has the capacity to dispense medications for the new UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay. The robotic pharmacy has won a 2011 Best of What’s New award from Popular Science. To date, the automated system has assembled more than 1.5 million pill packages of patient medications without an error. Read more | Watch video


David Vlahov, PhD, RN

David Vlahov, PhD, RN


UCSF Welcomes Vlahov as New Nursing Dean

UCSF welcomed David Vlahov, PhD, RN, an experienced epidemiologist who specializes in working with community partners to improve urban health, as the first male dean of the School of Nursing. Vlahov came to UCSF with a successful track record as an expert in epidemiology, infectious diseases, substance abuse and mental health. He brings a unique global perspective as founder of the International Society for Urban Health. Vlahov succeeds Kathleen Dracup, RN, FNP, DNSc, FAAN, who had successfully led the nursing school since 2000. Before coming to UCSF, Vlahov served as the senior vice president of research and director of the Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies at the New York Academy of Medicine. Read more

Jaime Sepúlveda, MD, MPH, DrSc

Jaime Sepúlveda, MD, MPH, DrSc


UCSF Appoints Sepúlveda to Lead Global Health Sciences

UCSF named a world-renowned public health leader, Jaime Sepúlveda, MD, MPH, Dr.Sc., as executive director of UCSF Global Health Sciences, filling a role previously held by former UCSF Chancellor Haile Debas, MD, and Richard Feachem, KBE, DSc(Med), PhD, UCSF Global Health Group director Sir Richard. Sepúlveda has made enormous contributions to global health in his previous roles as Mexico’s vice minister of health and the director general of Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, as well as his previous role as director of special initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Alvarez-Buylla Wins Prince of Asturias Award

Arturo Alvarez-Buylla, PhD, was one of three scientists who received the 2011 Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research. He was recognized in May for identifying neural stem cells in the brains of mammals, and for his ongoing research on their behavior, and potential therapeutic use, in treating diseases such as brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and autism. Read more

Arturo Alvarez-Buylla and lab members.

Arturo Alvarez-Buylla and lab members.

Keith Yamamoto, PhD

Keith Yamamoto, PhD

Yamamoto Named Vice Chancellor of Research

Keith Yamamoto, PhD, a long-time leader at UCSF and a key player in shaping national science policy, was named vice chancellor for research at UCSF in May. He now leads UCSF’s effort to advance innovative, collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches to research across the University’s schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and its graduate programs in biological sciences. “Opportunities in the biomedical sciences have lit up for us,” Yamamoto said. “We are in a position to truly understand the way complicated biological processes work — and to solve complex biological problems of diseases in such fields as cancer, cardiovascular and neurosciences. UCSF has the opportunity to play a leading part in this next phase, and I’m honored to be able to play a part in the effort.”
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Robert Blelloch, MD, PhD

Robert Blelloch, MD, PhD


Blelloch Wins International Young Investigator Award

UCSF’s Robert Blelloch, MD, PhD, received the 2011 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the International Society for Stem Cell Research in June, for his pioneering research on the role of molecular tools known as microRNAs in embryonic stem cells and cancer. The goal is to use microRNAs to manipulate embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes and to target cancers. Read more

Castro Receives International Recognition for Education

Joseph Castro, PhD

Joseph Castro, PhD

Joseph Castro, PhD, vice chancellor for Students Academic Affairs at UCSF, was awarded the International Cooperation Dedication Award in June from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education, which includes 91 top Chinese research universities and thousands of the best high schools, primary schools and kindergartens in Beijing, China. The award is the most prestigious education award presented to an international educator whose influence, dedication and work impacts higher education collaboration on the international stage. Later, Castro was named interim dean of the UCSF Graduate Division, following the retirement of Patricia Calarco, PhD, who capped her productive 40-year career as a leader at UCSF.


CTSI Wins Renewed National Funding

UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) was the largest among 10 institutes nationwide to receive renewed funding in 2011, with a $112 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand its work over the next five years. The scale of the renewal validates the tremendous amount of work conducted by the institute over the past five years and its role as a national leader in finding innovative approaches to accelerating the pace of translational science. Read more


UCSF Finishes in Third Place in AIDS Walk San Francisco

UCSF collectively raised nearly $55,000 in AIDS Walk San Francisco this year, finishing in third place behind two other longtime San Francisco institutions: Gap Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. Representatives of AIDS Walk Foundation, including Craig Miller, founder and producer of AIDS Walk San Francisco, attended the UCSF reception in August to congratulate UCSF on its ongoing participation in the event, which raised more than $3 million on July 17.  Read more | Watch video

UCSF neurologist William Seeley, MD, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.

UCSF neurologist William Seeley, MD, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.


Seeley Named MacArthur Fellow

UCSF neurologist William Seeley, MD, a clinician-researcher studying the causes of neurodegenerative diseases, was named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed on an individual in the United States. The honor was announced Sept. 20. Seeley’s particular focus is frontotemporal dementia, a family of neurological syndromes that usually afflicts people in midlife, and is second only to Alzheimer’s as the primary cause of progressive pre-senile dementia. 
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UCSF Tapped for US National AIDS Strategy Initiative

The U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funded the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies to provide leadership and support to seven states implementing interventions to enhance HIV testing and diagnosis, linkage to and retention in high-quality HIV care among populations who do not yet know their status or who have been previously diagnosed, but are not currently engaged in care. The grant from the HRSA Special Projects of National Significance Program will total $1.5 million per year for four years.
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Chancellor Unveils Three-Year Plan for UCSF

In her third year as Chancellor, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, unveiled an action plan for UCSF that builds on its mission of advancing health worldwide. “My vision for UCSF is that we are the world’s preeminent health sciences innovator,” she said during her State of the University address on Oct. 4, which was live-streamed, reaching more than 1,000 viewers. Working with members of her leadership team, the Chancellor’s Executive Committee, Desmond-Hellmann drafted the three-year plan building on tenets of the 2007 strategic plan, the first-ever campuswide blueprint for the future. To realize the vision, Desmond-Hellmann said UCSF must achieve five goals, all of which coincide with her priorities as chancellor: patient care, discovery, education, people and business. 
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UCSF Leads First-Ever Bay Area Science Festival

UCSF hosted the first annual Bay Area Science Festival, a series of events designed to showcase the region's catalytic role in scientific progress and provide innovative opportunities to build community around science, technology and engineering. The festival brought together an unprecedented brain trust of the region’s scientific and educational partners to produce what is expected to be one of the largest science-based events ever held in the United States. More than 70,000 people experienced the events, including the grand finale on Nov. 6 at AT&T Park, which was transformed into a wonderland of hands-on science activities.
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UCSF Leaders Contribute to NAS Report Calling for Biomedical Knowledge Network

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee co-chaired by UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, recommended the creation of a knowledge network that would integrate the wealth of data emerging on the molecular basis of disease with information on environmental factors and patients’ electronic medical records, with the goal of developing more diagnostics and treatments tailored to individual patients — known as “precision medicine.” The development of this broadly accessible data network would allow scientists to share emerging research findings faster, thereby accelerating the development of tailored treatments. It would also allow clinicians to make more informed decisions about treatments and would reduce health care costs and ultimately improve care. The NAS committee also included Keith Yamamoto, PhD, vice chancellor of research at UCSF, and Bernard Lo, MD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF Program in Medical Ethics. Read more

Mark Laret, CEO

Mark Laret, CEO

Laret Elected to Chair Association of American Medical Colleges

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, was elected by his peers to chair the Board of Directors of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) at its annual meeting in November. UCSF Medical Center, which ranked among the top ten hospitals in the nation for the 11th consecutive year, according to U.S. News & World Report, is an integral part of UCSF’s advanced biomedical research, and graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions. “The U.S. health care system and our precious medical education, research and clinical enterprises are at an historic crossroads," Laret said. "My focus is to fight to preserve the best of our current system, but simultaneously push ourselves to usher in a new era where we are more efficient and effective in carrying out our missions.”
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Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD

Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, Morris Herztein Professor of Biology and Physiology in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF, addresses the audience after being into the California Hall of Fame on Dec. 8.


Blackburn Inducted into the California Hall of Fame

UCSF Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, whose co-discovery of an enzyme involved in cell aging and cancers opened a whole new field of scientific inquiry, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame on Dec. 8. The Hall of Fame recognizes legendary Californians who have influenced the state, the nation and the world. Blackburn, who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009, was presented with a medal by from Governor Jerry Brown at the induction ceremony.
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