Abul Abbas Receives 2017 UCSF Lifetime Mentoring Award

By Kate Vidinsky

Abul Abbas
Abul Abbas, MBBS, the 2017 recipient of the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award, said that teaching and mentoring has been one of his greatest pleasures. Photo by Susan Merrell

Abul Abbas, MBBS, has been named the 2017 recipient of the UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award.

Each year the Campus Council on Faculty Life’s Faculty Mentoring Program presents the award to one senior UCSF faculty member who best embodies the principles and practice of mentorship.

Abbas, a distinguished professor and chair of the UCSF Department of Pathology, received the prestigious award at a June 29 ceremony at Milberry Union.

“Abul Abbas is a remarkable human being, a world-class scientist, a renowned pathologist, an inspirational teacher, and he simply represents the best of UCSF,” said Daniel Lowenstein, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost, in remarks at the standing-room only ceremony.

Mitchell Feldman, Daniel Lowenstein, Abul Abbas and Brian Alldredge
Abul Abbas (second from left), MBBS, celebrates his UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award with (from left) Associate Vice Provost Mitchell Feldman, MD, MPhil; Daniel Lowenstein, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost; and Brian Alldredge, PharmD, vice-provost of Academic Affairs. Photo by Irene Merry

In accepting the award, Abbas thanked both his own mentors and his mentees. He said that teaching and mentoring has been one of his greatest pleasures. “It really is just pure fun to interact with these brilliant young people,” he said.

“I feel, at the end of the day, incredibly privileged. I’ve interacted with some remarkable people, medical students, graduate students, postdocs, residents, fellows, and junior faculty. Anything I’ve done to help them has been my gain, much more than theirs.”

During his time at UCSF, Abbas has directed a robust research program comprised of postdoctoral fellows and technicians. Over the past two years, his duties have shifted to handling more administrative responsibilities in his chairmanship role, while also teaching immunology courses to first year medical students.

Prior to coming to UCSF, Abbas oversaw a laboratory for the Immunology Research Division at Harvard Medical School. Throughout his collective 20 years at Harvard and 18 years at UCSF, he has directly supervised nearly 60 postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, while advising countless others.

The UCSF Faculty Mentoring Program, led by Associate Vice Provost Mitchell Feldman, MD, MPhil, established the Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award in 2007. Recipients are selected through a nomination process and are assessed in four areas: their impact on mentees’ career development, the career productivity of mentees, nomination letters, and the breadth and depth of mentoring across schools, departments and campuses.

“The Faculty Mentoring Program helps support a true culture of mentoring at UCSF,” Feldman said. “In creating this major award, we recognized the indescribable value of our senior faculty’s sustained commitment to mentoring.”

According to Abbas, a mentor’s success is contingent on truly listening to what others hope to accomplish. This was reflected in one of the award’s nomination letters, which described Abbas as someone who “provides support, while fully giving his mentees autonomy over their future.”

“You have to learn to stand in their shoes,” Abbas said in an interview. “I think too often we tend to project our own goals and aspirations onto other people. It’s important that mentors step away from what they’ve done or want, and instead learn to appreciate and care about what someone else wants to do.”

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