Four Receive 2016 UCSF Medal for Innovation, Inspiration, Impact

By Mike Billings

UC San Francisco awarded the UCSF Medal – the University’s highest honor – to four visionary leaders for their innovation, inspiration and impact in advancing health research and care.

Virologist and infectious-disease specialist Don Ganem, MD; philanthropists Gordon and Betty Moore; and Esta Soler, an advocate combating domestic violence against women, received the 2016 UCSF Medal during a dinner celebration Nov. 9 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“Impact, innovation, and inspiration are indeed words that describe our four medalists and also the work I observe every day at UCSF,” UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, said in his opening remarks at the celebration dinner.

The UCSF Medal is a tradition started in 1975 by former Chancellor Francis Sooy, MD, and replaces the granting of honorary degrees awarded to individuals. Recipients are selected annually by a distinguished committee composed of university and non-university members.

Don Ganem

Don Ganem was honored for his innovative research and work as a virologist and infectious-disease specialist.

Ganem has studied the mechanisms of replication and disease induction by human viral pathogens. His early work centered on the replicative cycle of viruses of the hepatitis B virus family. In 1995, after a 15-year focus on HBV, he turned his attention to the study of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, which causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, a cancer that often afflicted AIDS patients before the introduction of retroviral drugs largely banished KS from HIV-positive patients.

While a UCSF professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at UCSF, Ganem worked with fellow Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Joseph DeRisi, PhD, in 2003 when, together with postdoctoral fellow David Wang, PhD, they used microarray technology to detect the SARS virus with 24 hours of receiving it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also quickly classified and genetically defined the virus.

Ganem’s group at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research focuses on developing new treatments for serious bacterial and viral infections in normal patients and those with compromised immune systems. This antibacterial research focuses on new approaches to antibiotic development based on a deeper understanding of the many mechanisms of drug absorption, efflux and resistance, and strategy development to circumvent these actions. His virology efforts centers on discovering new treatments for many types of viruses, including HBV and respiratory viruses.

Ganem also oversees the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, which focuses on parasitic diseases and viral diseases of the developing world.

Gordon and Betty Moore

Gordon and Betty Moore were honored for their inspirational philanthropic work that fosters path-breaking scientific discovery, environmental conservation, patient care improvements and preservation of the special character of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Over the years, the couple has generously given to UCSF to support progress in health sciences, nursing and patient care. In 2014, they gave UCSF a $50 million gift to help fund the region’s first women’s hospital and to advance the innovative initiatives of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health. UCSF Medical Center named its new women’s hospital at Mission Bay in honor of the Bay Area residents.

The couple’s philanthropic contributions are primarily through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which they established in 2000. The foundation is an extension of the work they have dedicated to science and the environment for decades, both in the United States and abroad.

Gordon Moore is widely known for the rule-of-thumb prediction that he made in 1965, later dubbed “Moore’s Law,” which became a guiding principle for the delivery of ever more powerful semiconductor chips at proportionally lower costs. Today, this standard continues to set the pace of technology development and progress. Gordon has been committed to technological progress throughout his career as a pioneering leader in the new semiconductor industry, first as co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and then as co-founder of Intel Corp., creator of the world’s first microprocessor, in 1968.

Betty met Gordon at San Jose State College, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1949. Gordon and Betty were married the following year. While Gordon attended graduate school at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Betty worked for Consolidated Engineering Corporation in advertising and public relations before joining the Ford Foundation.

Esta Soler

A longtime advocate for women, Esta Soler was honored for her impactful work to prevent domestic, dating and sexual violence, stalking and child abuse.

One of the world’s foremost experts on violence against women, Soler is a pioneer who founded Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund) in San Francisco more than 30 years ago and transformed it into a groundbreaking global leader.

As a national health and social justice nonprofit organization, Futures Without Violence develops innovative strategies to prevent domestic, dating and sexual violence, stalking, and child abuse. Soler was a driving force behind the passage of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 – the nation’s first comprehensive federal response to the violence that affects women, families and communities.

An advisory board member to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network created by UCLA and Duke University, Soler is a former vice chair of the Blue Shield of California Foundation. She has been a consultant and adviser to numerous public and private agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Soros Justice Fellowship Program, the Ford Foundation, and the Aspen Institute. She was a member of the first Violence Against Women National Advisory Council when it was chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala and the now late Attorney General Janet Reno.

Soler has received many awards, including the University of California Public Health Heroes Award in 1998, and was honored by the Center for the Advancement of Women for advancing the power of women worldwide in 2004.

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