Chancellor Introduces 4 Priorities for UCSF in 2015 State of the University

By Jyoti Madhusoodanan

Chancellor Sam Hawgood mingles at a reception following his 2015 State of the University address. Photo by Noah Berger

UC San Francisco has long valued its spirit of innovation and collaboration, and that ethos will be key to strengthening its impact on the health, economy and intellectual vitality of our local and global community, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, said Tuesday.

In his second State of the University address, Hawgood recapped the year’s highlights and outlined four priorities that harness the values of innovation and collaboration: precision medicine, continuous learning, transformative partnerships, and equity and inclusion.

Continuing to invest energy and resources in these priorities “will complement and extend ongoing investment in what I call our 'essential core strengths' in research, clinical care and education,” he said.

Recognizing the Year’s Milestones

Before expanding on his priorities, Hawgood highlighted several markers of UCSF’s remarkable growth in recent years. The opening of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay in February, the addition of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland and a steady growth in the University’s research portfolio have led to UCSF now being a $5 billion enterprise – a 55 percent growth over the last five years, he said.

He noted that for the second year in a row, UCSF’s four schools received the highest amount nationwide in biomedical research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy, as well as the Graduate Division, earned a total of $546.6 million in NIH contracts and grants.  

Sam Hawgood applauds the achievements of UCSF community members during his State of the University address . Photo by Noah Berger

Philanthropy also has played a critical role in the University’s success, since state and tuition funds account for only 5 percent of UCSF’s operating budget. Hawgood reported that the University set another fundraising record this year, garnering nearly $609 million in private support from more than 23,000 donors – a 37 percent increase in funding over last year.

The Chancellor highlighted the generous support of Herb and the late Marion Sandler, who helped launch the UCSF Program in Breakthrough Biomedical Research in 1998. Today, that initial seed money to support high-risk, high-return science has produced 365 projects, 2,250 peer-reviewed publications, and more than 60 patents.

Hawgood applauded the efforts of student organizers of White Coats for Black Lives who were recently honored with a “Hero Award” from the San Francisco Human Rights Commission for their collective efforts to advance civil rights. “The White Coats for Black Lives movement has galvanized us to critically examine and address our individual biases and institutional barriers,” he said.

Affordability in the Bay Area

While UCSF has certainly thrived in the booming economy, Hawgood acknowledged the “yin and yang of operating in such a vibrant and exciting city.”

In his speech, Sam Hawgood recognized new School of Pharmacy student Tyson Walker (center), a White Mountain Apache from Arizona who aims to tackle health disparities. Quoting from Walker, the chancellor read: “When I become a pharmacist, I will be doing something significant not only for myself and my family, but also for my tribe." Photo by Noah Berger

He noted concerns about access to affordable housing, student debt, or commute time and expense that’s impacting the UCSF community, and committed to tackling these issues in the coming year. In response to an audience question about student housing, Hawgood elaborated: “We already have a number of different planned initiatives underway. We recognize that a key need is to build more in the long term, but we are also looking at very short term issues to address potentially subsidization of housing and other strategies that have shorter-term impact.

The growing city – and UCSF’s investment – has turned Mission Bay into a prime neighborhood, and now UCSF must focus attention on reinvigorating the Parnassus and Mount Zion campuses. Hawgood said he’s asked Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Dan Lowenstein, MD, to lead a workgroup to study the opportunities there.

Following these milestones from the past year, Hawgood shifted focus to the year ahead and elaborated on initiatives planned in the four priority areas.

Destination for Continual Learning

Several initiatives planned for the year ahead will continue to extend UCSF’s role as a top-ranked health sciences university and its commitment to continuous learning.

The Chancellor's Priorities

Learn more about each of the priorities on the Chancellor's website:

Each of UCSF’s professional schools are making important curricular changes to keep pace with new learning opportunities and changing population needs, such as the shortage of health care providers and the surge in chronic diseases today. For example, the School of Pharmacy’s top-ranked pharmacy curriculum is undergoing “its most significant transformation in two decades,” Hawgood said.

Through its Center for Global Health launched last year, the School of Nursing is pushing the boundaries of nurses as global health leaders and frontline responders in crises. “As we saw in the Ebola outbreak and the earthquake in Nepal, nurses around the world respond to complex health crises by delivering the bulk of urgent care,” Hawgood pointed out. 

In addition to curricular changes, Hawgood called attention to professional development opportunities for staff, such as multi-session programs and portals for self-paced learning from the Learning and Organization Development Department. In the year to come, UCSF will also debut a new online development resource that offers business certifications, e-courses, live events and a video channel, said Hawgood.

Partnerships To Enhance Societal Impact

Creating partnerships with the community and industry “are becoming ever more important to maximizing our societal impact and fulfilling our contract as a public research university,” Hawgood said.

One exciting potential partnership would be with UC Berkeley to create a new campus at Richmond Bay called the “Berkeley Global Campus.” This "bold venture," which Hawgood noted is still in early stages of discussion, would invite the world’s leading universities to join in solving pressing scientific, environmental, political, economic and social challenges.

Partnerships are also transforming the health system. Over the last year, clinical practices in the School of Medicine have been successfully aligned with UCSF Medical Center to create a new, fully integrated system known as UCSF Health. The new brand will debut with a publicity campaign later this month.

In the coming year, UCSF Health plans to extend its partnerships and affiliations throughout the Bay Area, according to Hawgood. “By building our own health system, we are creating the foundation for a Bay Area accountable care network that's poised to begin enrolling patients in 2017.”

Building a Comprehensive Precision Medicine Platform

Hawgood credited much of the national focus on precision medicine to the efforts of Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for research, who continues to build UCSF’s precision medicine platform.

“Every scientist and scholar at UCSF should know that this platform is wide open for all to jump on board and that precision medicine spans the full spectrum of UCSF’s research, from fundamental science to our education and patient care missions,” he said.

This year, UCSF was selected to host the California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine, spearheaded by Gov. Jerry Brown, and Esteban Burchard, MD, MPH, was named to an expert panel advising the NIH on how to develop the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative.  

UCSF also recruited Atul Butte, MD, PhD, a world-renowned expert in medical technology last year to direct the Institute for Computational Health Sciences and serve as executive director of clinical informatics at UC Health. In January 2016, Butte will co-chair the Precision Medicine World Conference, the world’s premiere meeting where experts representing basic science, computation, health care, venture capital and the biotechnology industry will gather in Silicon Valley.

“It is clear we will only fully realize the promise of precision medicine if we partner with other UC campuses and industry across the state,” Hawgood said.

Culture of Equity and Inclusion


In his speech, Sam Hawgood recognized new School of Pharmacy student Tyson Walker (center), a White Mountain Apache from Arizona who aims to tackle health disparities. Quoting from Walker, the chancellor read: “When I become a pharmacist, I will be doing something significant not only for myself and my family, but also for my tribe." Photo by Noah Berger

Hawgood’s fourth priority focuses not just on leveraging diversity to enhance UCSF’s work, but also “doubling down on our efforts to address the pernicious impact of health care disparities in our own community and beyond.”

The Chancellor's executive leadership has approved more funding to support and expand activities from the Office of Diversity and Outreach, he said. The office’s varied initiatives include working to improve outreach and recruitment of underrepresented faculty, strengthening the pipeline of youth who pursue health sciences careers and supporting diverse students once enrolled.

Efforts from individual schools also aim to enhance a culture of equity and inclusion. In an orientation last month, for example, School of Medicine new students worked in groups to understand how inclusive communities could combat the silent epidemic of health and educational inequity.

Hawgood also highlighted the contributions of UCSF Arts & Events' director Joey Convento, who went from diffusing roadside bombs in Afghanistan to helping UCSF becoming the No. 1 fundraising team in AIDS Walk San Francisco. Photo by Noah Berger

The School of Dentistry this fall welcomed three “Dreamers," a term used to describe students who are undocumented immigrants who qualify under the federal Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act. The school also received three NIH research awards aimed at eliminating inequities in access to care and improving children’s oral health and “has long been a leader in promoting children’s oral health, especially in low-income and minority populations,” said Hawgood.

Hawgood urged all members of the UCSF community to participate in the One UCSF campaign, which celebrates the unique contributions of individuals across campus. “It is important for us to share our unique stories and reflect on our common bonds as one community devoted to improving health.”