At UC San Francisco, every year is marked by hundreds of achievements spanning education, research, patient care and public service. T
his collection captures some of our memorable moments and milestones from 2017.
NIH FUNDING STREAK: UCSF started the year by continuing its run as the top public recipient of National Institutes of Health funding. The 2016 tallies also kept its four schools – dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy – as the No. 1 recipients nationwide for biomedical research funding. Photo by Noah Berger
LARGEST-EVER GIFT TO UCSF: A $500 million gift by the Helen Diller Foundation honored the legacy of the late philanthropist Helen Diller and contributed significantly to endowments that are supporting UCSF faculty and students.
NOVEL GENE THERAPY: A new therapy for the immune disorder SCID, commonly known as the “bubble boy disease,” could provide an alternative to stem cell transplants using donor cells. A research team led by Mort Cowan, MD, at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco received an $11.9 million grant to test the novel therapy that delivers a functional gene into the patient’s blood-producing stem cells. Photo by Steve Babuljak
TRANSFORMING DENTAL CARE: In February, the UCSF Dental Center began rolling out to help provide a new delivery model for its care. The changes integrate the School of Dentistry’s 22 specialty clinics under the Dental Center. Photo by Susan Merrell
BEST IN CLASS: UCSF’s schools again ranked among the nation’s best in theU.S. News & World Report survey of Best Graduate Schools. The School of Medicine was the fourth best in research, and third best in primary care, while the School of Nursing ranked in the Top 10 of all five nursing programs it offers. Photo by Susan Merrell
MS MILESTONE: Decades of research by Stephen Hauser, MD, was instrumental in leading to a new drug for multiple sclerosis that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in March. Ocrelizumab, which targets B cells in the body to treat both relapsing-remitting MS and primary progressive MS, is the first to reflect the current scientific understanding of the disease. Photo by Steve Babuljak
PIONEERING PAIN RESEARCH: David Julius, PHD, was honored with 2017 Canada Gairdner International Award– one of the most prestigious prizes in biomedicine – for his research about pain. The prize was awarded in March for his work determining the molecular basis of somatosensation, which is how we sense heat, cold and pain. Photo by Steve Babuljak
SHOWCASING RESEARCH: The UCSF Grad Slam and Postdoc Slam are two competitions in which graduate students and postdocs present their work to an audience through informing and entertaining three-minute talks. Christina Hueschen, a graduate student in the Biomedical Sciences Program, won this year’s Grad Slam, and Sarah Engelberth, PhD, won the second annual UCSF Postdoc Slam.
UCSF STANDS UP: The Stand Up for Science teach-in and rally on April 22, which highlighted the importance of federal research funding, kicked off a series advocacy pushes throughout 2017. The UCSF community went on to rally around affordable health care, Dreamers and other immigrants, and fighting the tax reform bill’s provisions that would make graduate education more expensive.
TOURETTE RISK DISCOVERY: In a significant advance in understanding the biology of Tourette disorder, researchers – including Matthew State, MD, PhD, and Jeremy Willsey, PhD (both pictured at center) – identified the first “high-confidence” risk gene for the disorder as well as three other probable risk genes.
CALLING ALL GRADUATES: In a stirring commencement address to the School of Medicine in May, former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA, called on the graduates to be moral leaders of our society. “Your obligation from today onward is to stand up for the vulnerable and the voiceless. And if that means engaging in controversy, then do it anyway,” Murthy said just weeks after being asked to resign from his post by President Donald Trump. Photo by Elisabeth Fall
NOBEL OF THE EAST: In May, Ron Vale, PhD, received the 2017 Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine, for his discovery of motor proteins called kinesins, molecular machines that perform functions crucial to life. Vale joined five previous winners of the Shaw Prize, often called the “Nobel of the East.” Photo by Steve Babuljak
CHEERS FOR CHILDREN’S HOSPITALS : UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals placed among the nation’s best in a U.S. News and World Reports’ 2017-18 survey, released in June. The hospitals ranked in the top 50 for nine specialties, according to the report, which surveyed 187 pediatric hospitals nationwide. Photo by Noah Berger
TREATING BRAIN INJURY: In an unprecedented finding that holds promise for treating traumatic brain injury in humans, Peter Walter, PhD, and Susanna Rosi (pictured left), PhD, published their findings in July that the molecule ISRIB completely reversed severe learning and memory impairments caused by TBI in mice.
BEST IN THE WEST: The UCSF Medical Center is the best hospital in the western U.S. and the fifth best hospital in the nation in rankings released by U.S. News and World Report. The 2017-18 Best Hospitals survey also ranked UCSF for exceptional performance in 15 medical specialties. Photo by Elisabeth Fall
SLEEP AND PREGNANCY: The first study to examine the effects of insomnia during pregnancy found that women diagnosed with a sleep disorder while pregnant were more likely to deliver their babies before reaching full term. One surprise in the study was how few women had a sleep disorder diagnosis, which senior study author Aric Prather, PhD, said is likely due to how few women are screened for such disorders during pregnancy. Photo by Elisabeth Fall
NEW LEADERSHIP: This year brought new and returning faces to the UCSF leadership, including (from left) new School of Nursing Dean Catherine Gilliss, PhD, RN, FAAN; Harold E. “Barry” Selick, PhD, vice chancellor for business development, innovation and partnerships; Christopher Shaffer, MS, AHIP, university librarian and assistant vice chancellor; Lindsey A. Criswell, MD, MPH, DSc, vice chancellor for research; and Jennifer P. Arnett, vice chancellor of University Development and Alumni Relations.
LIVE-SAVING STEM CELLS: Tippi MacKenzie, MD, received a grant to lead a the first-of-its-kind clinical trial at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital to conduct in utero stem cell transplants to treat a rare but often fatal condition in second-trimester fetuses. If the five-year clinical trial proves successful, the pioneering therapy could be used to treat many other genetic diseases.
UNITING TO FIGHT CANCER: In September, the University of California announced that it was tapping the collective power of its four cancer centers to better tackle cancer, estimated to cost $14 billion annually in California. The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center joined the UC Cancer Consortium, which aims harness the best of research, clinical trials and public engagement across the system. Photo by Susan Merrell
NEW CANCER THERAPY: Shortly after the Food and Drug Administration approved CAR-T therapy for pediatric and young adult patients with a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco became the first hospital in California certified to provide the therapy. Image by NIH
BRAVING THE WILDFIRES: The deadly Northern California wildfires in October personally impacted our community, and many also stepped up to help in a big way. From evacuating people as the inferno spread to providing care to collecting donations for fire victims, it was a time when the UCSF community showed incredible courage and compassion.
GLOBAL RESEARCH RECOGNITION: The U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities 2018 rankings, released in October, recognized UCSF’s standing as one of the premier life sciences research institutions in the world, putting us among the top 10 for seven specialties, including immunology, clinical medicine, neuroscience and pharmacology. The worldwide rankings focus on schools’ academic research and reputation. Photo by Noah Berger
NURSING EXCELLENCE: UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco earned the prestigious Magnet Recognitionin October. The four-year designation acknowledges the excellence in nursing, quality of patient care and innovations in professional nursing practice. Photo by Jessica Bernstein-Wax
ACCELERATING DRUG DISCOVERY: An unprecedented effort to move the timeline of preclinical cancer drug discovery from six years down to one was unveiled in October, a collaboration spanning public and private sectors. The Accelerating Therapeutics for Opportunities in Medicine (ATOM) consortium, co-led by UCSF, aims to accelerate drug discovery using supercomputers to pretest many molecules simultaneously for safety and efficacy. Photo by Elisabeth Fall
UNIFYING GLOBAL HEALTH: There’s a new home for global health efforts at UCSF in the Institute for Global Health Sciences. With the new name comes a new sense of identity for the organization: “This approach builds on our strengths but also requires more effective engagement with others across campus, in particular, basic scientists, and with outside partners to assemble the skills needed,” Executive Director Jaime Sepulveda, MD, PhD, said in his October announcement. Photo by Elisabeth Fall
BUILDING FOR OUR FUTURE: At Chancellor Hawgood’s annual State of the University Address, he announced an ambitious $5 billion fundraising campaign to solve some of the most complex problems in human health. UCSF: The Campaign – one of the largest fundraising efforts ever for a public university – will focus on three “Grand Challenges”: Decoding Life to Improve Health, Leveraging Discovery to Revolutionize Care and Partnering to Achieve Health Equity. Photo by Noah Berger
CAUSE FOR ALARMS: In October, the School of Nursing received its largest-ever gift: $25 million from David Mortara (center), PhD, to establish the UCSF Center for Physiologic Research. The landmark gift will be used to reduce “alarm fatigue” in nurses and other clinicians, which is critical to ensuring patient safety in hospitals.
BRINGING SCIENCE TO SCHOOLS: UCSF’s Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP), in 2017 celebrated 30 years of bringing science to San Francisco schoolchildren. The collaboration between UCSF and the San Francisco Unified School District partners scientists with K-12 teachers from elementary to high school levels and has also created the wildly popular annual Bay Area Science Festival. Photo by Noah Berger
HUMAN GENE EDITING: In a remarkable first, researchers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland administered gene editing therapy in a human body. The treatment, which aims to change the DNA of the patient, is part of a clinical trial for the therapy for people with Hunter syndrome, but could hold promise for many other diseases.
UNFOLDING A BREAKTHROUGH: On Dec. 3, Peter Walter, PhD, received a $3 million Breakthrough Prize for his discovery of the unfolded protein response. The Breakthrough Prizes, the largest monetary award in science, were founded by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley to focus the spotlight on transformative work bring done by scientists around the world. Photo by Maurice Ramirez
TRACKING PhD CAREERS: UCSF joined with eight other life sciences institutions and a major cancer institute in a commitment to track and report standardized data on PhD students and graduates. The institutes will track education opportunities, the time graduates spend as postdoctoral scholars and the career paths they take with their degrees. The unprecedented effort at greater transparency aims to better support and retain talented young scientists in the field.