Inside UCSF: 2013 Year in Review

A Look at Some of the Biggest Stories of 2013 Inside UCSF


Celebrating the Epicenter of Science

A decade after opening, UCSF Mission Bay continues to be an epicenter for science, health and hope. The $3 billion campus is considered the single most important endeavor in UCSF’s near 150-year history, a product of public-private partnership among government leaders, academia, business and the community. The campus has not only helped transform the once-delapidated southeast portion of San Francisco, but has fueled the economy with construction and fostered education and research including collaboration with bioscience start-ups, venture capital firms, and top scientific institutions. Now nearly 4,000 faculty members, staff, and students work, teach, and learn at UCSF Mission Bay, including three UCSF Nobel laureates. UCSF’s contribution to the thriving area that also features housing and public parks continues with the planned February 2015 opening of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay to serve women, children, and cancer patients.

Ranking Among World’s Top Universities

The Academic Ranking of World Universities placed UCSF second in clinical medicine and pharmacy among universities the world over. More than 1,000 universities are ranked using objective indicators including the number of faculty winning Nobel Prizes, the number of articles published in journals of Nature and Science, and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution. UCSF has long been recognized as a world-renowned health sciences university. Five faculty members have received the Nobel Price in Physiology or Medicine, most recently in 2012 when Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, a senior investigator at the UCSF-affilited Gladstone Instiutes, was recognized for his work on transforming adult skin cells into cells that can develop into any other type of cell in the human body.


Achieving Magnet Status

UCSF Medical Center team, led by Chief Nursing Officer Sheila Antrum.

UCSF Medical Center team, led by Chief Nursing Officer

Sheila Antrum, center, prepares for a visit by Magnet appraisers.

UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital celebrated Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The process of achieving Magnet status was a joint effort between the hospitals and UCSF School of Nursing, which worked to compile a 3,000-page submission package and showcase UCSF’s 2,500-member nursing staff during a site visit in July 2012. Magnet status signifies outstanding nursing practice, a rewarding work environment for nurses, and improvements in patient care. Less than 7 percent of the 5,724 hospitals registered with the American Hospital Association have achieved this honor. UCSF Medical Center CEO Mark Laret praised the “incredible efforts to achieve this high honor which embodies our mission of caring, healing, teaching and discovering.”

Joining Forces to Spur Innovations

UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford University are collaborating on an educational program aimed at commercializing university research and fostering innovation locally and nationally. The project is funded by a three-year $3.75 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The NSF program is one of three new innovation corps designed to train the next generation of entrepreneurs and encourage partnerships between academia and industry. The program focuses on developing business models and iterating models quickly and frequently based on customer feedback. Such a framework has not been used in a bioscience setting before, but UCSF’s position as a leader of biotechnology makes it an ideal place to start with its partner institutions.


Advancing the Artificial Kidney  

A combination of nano-scale engineering and the most recent advances in cellular biology, the artificial kidney project aims to create an implantable device for patients with chronic kidney failure. This implantable device could impact millions of people suffering from end-stage renal disease and reduce the need for external dialysis or immune suppressant medication. The UCSF-led project has been proven to work for the sickest patients using a room-sized external model. The plan is to use silicon fabrication technology and specially engineered compartments for live kidney cells to shrink the technology to the size of a coffee cup, which can then be implanted into the body to help patients live a more normal life. The artificial kidney project was fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration in a new regulatory approval program and is planned for clinical trials in 2017.

Steering the Future of UCSF

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, formed a distinguished group of renowned leaders from health care, biomedical sciences, and technology to help guide the future of UCSF. This small group of voluntary strategic advisors will aid Desmond-Hellmann and her leadership team to identify and prioritize issues of importance to the University. The challenges facing UCSF spurred the chancellor to take these steps to ensure the University’s financial health and continued excellence in future years.

Breaking New Ground in Global Health

March 22 marked the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Global Health & Clinical Sciences Building, or Mission Hall at UCSF Mission Bay. The seven-floor, 265,000-square-foot building will open in 2014 and bring together all the faculty, staff, and students involved in the University’s global health programs. Both the Mission Bay campus and the Global Health Sciences program celebrated their 10-year anniversary in 2013, and this new building will help cement both as world leaders for research, translation, and scientific collaboration. Mission Hall is made possible by a $20 million gift from philanthropist Chuck Feeney through his foundation Atlantic Philanthropies.


Empowering Patients Via TEDMED Talk

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH Speaking at TEDMED.

Speaking at TEDMED, UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, explained the benefit of the digital age of information for health care with  thousands of people both in person and online during the April conference. Increasingly, patients will be empowered to access more health information than ever before, and physicians can leverage that empowerment to improve the care they provide, the chancellor said. Desmond-Hellmann’s unique perspective brings together scientific and technological breakthroughs for better clinical care, similar to the precision medicine movement, which aims to cross-reference a patient’s health data with a global network of knowledge to deliver more targeted care.


Leading Advances in Precision Medicine

UCSF convened more than 170 of the world’s foremost thinkers, creators, and innovators for the first-ever OME Precision Medicine Summit to identify new approaches to make medicine more predictive, preventive, and precise. The emerging field of precision medicine draws upon advances in technology, genetics, and biomedical research to better tailor health care to individuals. UCSF is putting precision medicine into practice with a number of exciting developments, including forming the Global Alliance and establishing the Center for Digital Health Innovation. With the benefit of public participation and worldwide knowledge networks, precision medicine can revolutionize health. Among the attendees of the OME Precision Medicine Summit was Francis Collins, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health.

Recognizing Extraordinary Contributions on Campus

James Dilley, back row, third from right, celebrates his public  service award with his colleagues.

James Dilley, back row, third from right, celebrates his public

service award with his colleagues.

The 2013 Founders Day Luncheon honored 11 members of the UCSF community for their extraordinary contributions to the University and beyond. Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, presented awards for public service, university service, and university management, as well as a distinguished nursing award and a UCSF at Mount Zion Milton and Helen Pearl award for outstanding service. The awardees were honored for years of service as well as innovative proposals to benefit the community near and far. For their part, most awardees praised their colleagues who help them succeed, thanked their families for their support, and reflected on the satisfaction they feel being part of UCSF.

Focusing on Digital Health Innovation

Michael Blum, MD.

Michael Blum, MD

UCSF named Chief Medical Information Officer Michael Blum, MD, as director of the new Center for Digital Health Innovation. This new center will focus on transforming health care delivery and discovery from empiric, generalized, disease-based diagnostic and treatment approaches to the era of individualized precision medicine. The center will focus on developing new technologies, apps, and systems to complement social media and generate enormous new data sets. Such sets will be key to applying precision medicine to deliver more personally tailored health care.


Saluting Supreme Court Rulings on Same-Sex Marriage

Nikolas Lemos, PhD, dressed as Lady LIberty waiving a rainbow flag outside SF City Hall.

Nikolas Lemos, PhD, shows his commitment to civil rights by

dressing up as "Lady Li-bear-ty" outside SF City Hall.

Members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community at UCSF celebrated at San Francisco City Hall as the US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and also declined to rule on California’s Proposition 8. Both cases are key in affirming same-sex marriage and equal rights. UCSF has long been a leader in supporting the LGBT community, both in offering equitable health care to the LGBT community and throughout the University.

Joining a Global Alliance for Genomic Health

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann convened a

summit on precision medicine in May.

UCSF has joined nearly 70 other health care, research, and patient advocacy organizations in a global alliance to enable researchers and physicians to share genomic and clinical data. Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, was a founding participant in organizing this partnership of unprecedented proportions. Data will be de-identified and shared at the consent of patients in order to build a global resource to be used in biomedical research, drug development, diagnostics, and medical decisions for individuals. The global alliance already has support from organizations around the world to build an international framework to share data conveniently while protecting participant confidentiality and privacy.


Walking to Fight AIDS in San Francisco

UCSF volunteers show their enthusiasm at the 27th annual  AIDS Walk.

UCSF volunteers show their enthusiasm at the 27th annual

AIDS Walk.

UCSF faculty, staff, and students joined thousands in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on July 21 for the 27th annual AIDS Walk San Francisco. Fifteen teams, comprising roughly 350 people, walked the 10K course along with 25,000 participants this year. UCSF has consistently had one of the best turnouts at the event, and helped raise more than $53,000 for Bay Area AIDS prevention and treatment organizations. The University awards the UCSF AIDS Walk Trophy to the team that raises the most money each year. The total raised by all teams from around the San Francisco Bay Area was more than $2.5 million.

Winning National Institutes of Health Support

UCSF ranked second among all institutions last year in biomedical research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and was top public recipient according to annual figures from NIH. Funds of nearly $521.3 million, from both contracts and grants, enable UCSF scientists to continue their pioneering research throughout all four of UCSF’s professional schools. For more than two decades UCSF has ranked among the nation’s top institutions in NIH funding. The ranking reflects the breadth and scale of UCSF’s excellence across education and research in multiple health-science arenas, as well as the strength of UCSF’s research program to bear the impact of $1.55 billion federal budget cuts for the NIH this year.

Ranking Among America’s Top Hospitals

CSF Medical Center.

The 2013-2014 America’s Best Hospitals survey places UCSF Medical Center among the nation’s premier hospitals for the 12th consecutive year, and the best in Northern California. As the seventh best hospital in the country, UCSF Medical Center earns a spot on the survey’s honor roll, a distinction awarded to only eighteen hospitals. The U.S. News & World Report publishes the survey to help guide patients who need a high level of care. UCSF’s continuing excellence in innovative treatments, advanced technology, collaboration among health care professionals and scientists, and a highly compassionate patient care team distinguish UCSF Medical Center among the approximately 5,000 U.S. hospitals evaluated.

Responding to Region’s Biggest Disaster

A nurse screens an incoming patient in the Emergency  Department of SFGH and Trauma Center.

A nurse screens an incoming patient in the Emergency

Department of SFGH and Trauma Center.

Following the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, the SFGH team reacted immediately to care for 67 patients, including 36 adults and 31 children. The trauma unit responded with rapid, coordinated care to handle the single biggest disaster that the hospital has faced. As the only Level 1 Trauma Center for San Francisco and northern San Mateo counties, the team was well trained to treat the sudden influx of patients. The center treats approximately 4,000 patients each year and has long been recognized as San Francisco’s public safety net hospital. Through close collaboration with the UCSF School of Medicine, SFGH continues to train medical residents and provide exemplary patient care.


Unveiling Covered California at UCSF

Covered California logo

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi visited UCSF to unveil California’s plan to implement the Affordable Care Act with the creation of a health care marketplace called Covered California. The new program will allow millions of people to choose guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage. Though operated by the state of California, the health program is not government insurance or socialized medicine. Rather, Covered California will provide an online marketplace for individuals and families to find financial assistance to make coverage more affordable.  As the only UC campus dedicated exclusively to health, Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH expressed UCSF’s excitement for improving the quality of health care for all of California.


Envisioning UCSF in Year 2025

After winning UCSF2025, Ivayla Ivanova, left, was invited to  UCSF by the Campus Procurement team.

After winning UCSF2025, Ivayla Ivanova, left, was invited to

UCSF by the Campus Procurement team.

A game of ideas for mapping the University’s future spurred a competition among individuals, teams, and entire departments in UCSF2025. More than 2,000 players participated in rapid-fire online dialogue over 36 hours to discuss everything from campus life to research innovation. The surprising winner though was Ivayla Ivanova, a resident of Salt Lake City with no direct affiliation with UCSF. After taking a School of Dentistry online class, Ivanova joined UCSF2025 where her real estate background helped spark ideas about green buildings and sustainability. University leaders took notice of all of the top-scoring teams, with several ideas from the game already making the transition to reality.

Going Completely Tobacco-Free

September 3 marked the beginning of a new policy that prohibits use of tobacco products on any University property or adjacent grounds for everyone who works or studies at UCSF. Cigarette smoking has long been identified as the most important source of preventable disease and illness, affecting an estimated 443,000 American lives each year. UCSF took the first step to limit smoking in 2005 with designated smoking areas, which were then removed in 2008 after scientists and staff urged campus leadership to protect the UCSF community from the dangers of smoking. Now the University intends to lead a new era of employee wellness and to commit to the health of not just patients but the entire UCSF community.

Highlighting the State of the University Address

In her fourth annual University address, Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, highlighted the accomplishments and challenges facing the leading university exclusively focused on health. She began with the announcement of one of UCSF’s biggest new investments, a $60 million fellowship program for PhD students. Her speech also described the importance of precision medicine, an emerging field that seeks to revolutionize health care by leveraging the vast amount of genetic and health data available from around the world. Desmond-Hellmann also recognized the exemplary work of individuals from throughout the UCSF campus, including Hana El-Samad, PhD, Jeff Olgin, MD, and Elizabeth Watkins, PhD. Desmond-Hellmann remained optimistic for UCSF’s future thanks to the dedication and hard work of all 23,000 people on campus.

Supporting Basic Science PhD Students

Sequoia Capital Chairman Sir Michael Moritz, KBE, and his wife, Harriet Heyman collaborated with UCSF to kick off a new endowment with a $60 million contribution to PhD education programs in the basic sciences. The UCSF Discovery Fellows Program will fund programs such as cell biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, which consistently rank among the top biomedical research doctoral programs in the United States. The endowment will help relieve the cost of tuition and living expenses for basic science PhD students at UCSF and allow grant money to be better allocated to the research and innovation UCSF is known for. Moritz and Heyman donated $30 million to the program, which UCSF matched with $25 million of institutional funds and a commitment to raise an additional $5 million from donors. The fundraising challenge aims to instill a new culture of private giving to fund graduate education.


 Reinforcing “It Gets Better” to LGBT Community

As part of UCSF’s Diversity Week and National Coming Out Day last year, UCSF created an “It Gets Better” video to increase awareness of and support the LGBTQ community. The four-minute video features more than 30 ethnically and culturally diverse UCSF faculty, staff, students, and trainees who give messages of hope to at-risk youth. Researchers found that LGBT teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts, and this video offers comfort and resources to persevere through the difficult times.  This year the video was honored with a local Emmy award nomination in the Community/Public Service Award category. The collaborative video reflects UCSF’s commitment to creating a welcoming and inclusive campus through diverse, LGBT-friendly services and groups.


Getting an Inside Look at UCSF

UC President Janet Napolitano and UCSF Chancellor Susan  Desmond-Hellmann laugh at a joke during a lunchtime  discussion with students.

UC President Janet Napolitano and UCSF Chancellor Susan

Desmond-Hellmann laugh at a joke during a lunchtime

discussion with students.

Janet Napolitano, the University of California’s newly appointed president, visited UCSF as part of her “listening and learning” tour of all 10 campuses. Napolitano met with Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and heard presentations by campus leaders on UCSF’s highest strategic priorities as well as financial projections for the next 10 years. Napolitano met with UCSF faculty, staff, students, and volunteers to better learn about what makes UCSF unique and how to further the University’s commitment to education, patient care, and research. The new president announced a number of initiatives, including $5 million toward recruiting graduate students and $5 million toward postdoctoral fellowships. These investments, as well as her focus on translational research, are a promising start to her tenure, Desmond-Hellmann said.

Modeling Success from Welfare to Work

EXCEL graduate Kaya Lewis, center, smiles as she is  introduced to speak at the program's latest graduation ceremony.

EXCEL graduate Kaya Lewis, center, smiles as she is

introduced to speak at the program's latest graduation ceremony.

UCSF’s Excellence through Community Engagement and Learning (EXCEL) program provides low-income San Franciscans with the training and skills needed to help turn their lives around. Both classroom and on-the-job training is used to prepare participants for careers in the health care sector. The program offers the skills needed to keep up in a rapidly evolving global economy. Over the past three years 80 percent of EXCEL graduates have found employment 6-months after graduation, many of them through UCSF facilities. The success of the program is indicative of the University’s commitment to workforce development and community support. As the second largest employer in San Francisco, UCSF continues to support the city through quality health care and broad, well-trained workforce.


Celebrating the "Oscars of Science"

Matthew Fall

Matthew Fall, one of the recipients of the 2014 Breakthrough

Prize, speaks at a panel discussion held at UCSF Mission Bay.

Top scientific minds coverged at UCSF for the two-day celebration of the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences on Dec. 12 and 13. Hosted by Kevin Spacey and attended by other Hollywood celebrities and magnates of Silicon Valley, the real stars of the event were the six scientists who took home prizes. The winners each receive $3 million rewards and joined past winners for a scientific symposium at UCSF's Mission Bay campus to highlight the groundbreaking research that earned them awards. The topics of research and discission were wide-ranging, though the progress and future of cancer research proved a touchstone of the event. Three UCSF Nobel laureates were also in attendance, and the symposium wrapped up with a panel discussion of the prize winners modereated by Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. The Breakthrough Prizes includes separate awards for physics and mathematics, and aims to raise the profile of scientists whose hard work often doesn't get mainstream attention.