UCSF Unveils Two New Portraits of Former Chancellors

By Mike Billings

Two more familiar faces are now greeting people in the Medical Sciences Building.

UC San Francisco has unveiled the official portraits of chancellors emeriti J. Michael Bishop, MD, and Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH.

The photographs printed on canvas joined the paintings of six previous chancellors in the first-floor hallway of the building on the Parnassus Heights campus. The portrait of Julius R. Krevans, MD, who was known as a champion of the library, hangs across the street in the UCSF Library.

the portrait of Michael Bishop shows him standing with the Mission Bay campus in the background
UCSF has unveiled the official portrait of J. Michael Bishop, MD, who served as the chancellor of UCSF from 1998 to 2009. Photo by Susan Merrell

“UCSF is a better place thanks to the amazing guidance of both Bishop and Desmond-Hellmann during their time as chancellors,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “It is a privilege for me to unveil these fitting tributes to them.”

The photograph for the portrait of Bishop was taken by Mark Estes, and it shows the former chancellor standing with the Mission Bay campus in the background. Bishop, who holds the distinction as UCSF’s longest-serving chancellor, was appointed to position from 1998 and served until 2009. It was during that time that UCSF created the Mission Bay campus, which formally opened in 2003.

Bishop’s long history at UCSF began in 1968, when he was hired as an assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. His research work at the University led to him and Harold Varmus, MD, receiving the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of proto-oncogenes, showing that normal cellular genes can be converted to cancer genes.

Susan Desmond-Hellmann smiles in an office in her official chancellor's portrait
The portrait of Susan Desmond-Hellman, MD, MPH, who served as chancellor from 2009 to 2014. Photo by Susan Merrell

The portrait of Desmond-Hellmann, who served as chancellor from 2009 through 2014, was taken by photographer Elisabeth Fall. A physician, pioneering cancer researcher and successful biotechnology industry executive, Desmond-Hellmann’s tenure as chancellor included successfully guiding UCSF through one of the worst financial crises to impact the University of California system as well as establishing precision medicine as a goal for University and the nation.

Her ties to UCSF go back to 1982, when she joined the University as an intern. After completing her clinical training, she became an associate adjunct professor of epidemiology and biostatistics and served two years as visiting faculty at the Uganda Cancer Institute, studying HIV/AIDS and cancer.

Immediately before joining UCSF as chancellor, Desmond-Hellmann served as president of product development for Genentech, where she was responsible for preclinical and clinical development, process research and development, business development and product portfolio management. Since leaving UCSF, she has been the chief executive officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.