UCSF to Launch Unique Neurology Clinic Specializing in Difficult-to-Diagnose Cases

New Clinic Follows $18M Gift from Bay Area Entrepreneurs Jan Shrem, Maria Manetti Shrem

By Suzanne Leigh

A proposed neurology clinic at UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay aims to shortcut the “diagnostic odyssey” faced by many patients with baffling brain symptoms that do not meet the standard criteria for any specific condition.

redering of exterior of the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building
The new UCSF Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Neurology Clinic will be housed in the Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neurosciences Building.

Patients with ambiguous neurological symptoms, but no diagnosis, frequently go from specialist-to-specialist over a protracted period of time. The goal of the UCSF Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Neurology Clinic is to fast-forward the time lapses between appointments by enabling pre-diagnostic screening and expert consultations to take place in a single visit.

The clinic will be funded by an $18 million gift from Bay Area entrepreneurs and philanthropists Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem to the UCSF Department of Neurology, which is part of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. It will include 14 patient exam and consultation rooms, adjacent facilities with imaging equipment and a neuro-infusion center, and telehealth capability to enable a primary care provider or other consultants to participate in conferences. The clinic will be located on the first floor of the forthcoming Joan and Sanford I. Weill Neuroscience Building, which will include the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and the Global Brain Health Institute, in addition to research laboratories that generate bench-to-bedside innovation.

“We are extremely indebted to the Manetti Shrems for recognizing the importance of the vision for this clinic and making it possible with their generous gift,” said S. Andrew Josephson, MD, chair of the UCSF Department of Neurology. “Many patients with neurological symptoms embark on a diagnostic odyssey when they seek answers to their symptoms. Our goal is to expedite an accurate diagnosis, so we can quickly offer the optimal treatment.”

For many neurological conditions, early diagnosis is paramount, Josephson said, allowing neurologists to intervene before the condition causes irreversible brain damage or reaches a stage when it is refractory to treatment.

Collaboration and Integration

The UCSF Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Neurology Clinic will encompass three faculties: neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry, specialties that are frequently treated in isolation. At UCSF, all three consistently rank as among the nation’s finest, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Our understanding of many neurological conditions, especially dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and mental health issues, is decades behind our understanding of cancer.

Maria Manetti Shrem

“The boundaries between psychiatry and neurology are breaking down as we identify convergences in many conditions, such as autism, dementia and Parkinson’s disease,” said Matthew State, MD, PhD, chair of the UCSF Department of Psychiatry. “Further progress in understanding brain disease and behavior is contingent on collaboration and integration, which the Manetti Shrem clinic will epitomize.”

“Our understanding of many neurological conditions, especially dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and mental health issues, is decades behind our understanding of cancer,” said Maria Manetti Shrem, who was raised in Florence and built her career in the fashion industry, including working as a distributor of Gucci accessories.

The clinic, which is expected to see dozens of patients per day, is slated to open toward the end of 2020.

The gift will also create three Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem endowed professorships that will be used to recruit clinicians for the new clinic. By creating a reliable source of funding, these specialists will be free to devote more time to each patient and focus their expertise on providing top clinical diagnostic services informed by the latest discoveries.

Well Known for Their Philanthropy

The Manetti Shrems are well known in the Bay Area for their philanthropy, which includes the creation of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, a gift to the San Francisco Opera, and funding for a hospital emergency department and cardiology fellowships. According to Jan Shrem, whose fabled career began as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman and culminated in a successful publishing business and the establishment of the Clos Pegase winery, giving back is the couple’s own reward after decades of success in industry.

portrait of Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem
Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem

“A productive life is not possible without good health,” Jan Shrem said. “We believe the new clinic is a step forward for those patients whose lives are compromised by neurological conditions that cannot be defined – much less treated.”

“Jan and I have always said that the arts are our greatest joy and that everyone should have access to them,” said Maria Manetti Shrem. “However, good health is a basic human right and we are eager to support this venture, which we hope will maximize the opportunity for recovery for those patients with debilitating neurological symptoms.”

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is exclusively focused on the health sciences and is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF Health, which serves as UCSF’s primary academic medical center, includes top-ranked specialty hospitals and other clinical programs, and has affiliations throughout the Bay Area.