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Amid Challenges, Chancellor Optimistic About UCSF Leadership as Health Sciences Innovator

Susan Desmond-Hellmann Recounts Past Year’s Highlights, Progress

By Louise Chu | | September 25, 2012

Amid Challenges, Chancellor Optimistic About UCSF Leadership as Health Sciences Innovator

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann delivered her third State of the University address on Tuesday since taking the helm of the health sciences university in August 2009.

State budget cuts have strained UCSF's resources over the past year, but the University is adapting to the challenges and continues to lead the way in health sciences research, education and patient care, the chancellor said Tuesday.

"Those last several years that we've been living in the midst of great change and financial constraints have put a lot of stress on the people of UCSF," said Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH.
But, she added, "even though I want to acknowledge the challenges, I want to thank the people who are persevering in their excellence in these challenges. … I'm optimistic because the people at UCSF are the ones who make us great."
2012 State of the University Address
Watch web cast of address
In her third annual State of the University address since becoming the ninth UCSF chancellor in 2009, Desmond-Hellmann praised the past year's progress toward achieving UCSF's 2014-2015 Strategic Plan, and outlined areas of focus for the next year.
Among the highlights of the past year were:
  • Ronald Vale, PhD, winning the 2012 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award;
  • The successful rollout of APeX electronic health records system;
  • Maintaining top ranking among medical schools; and
  • Receiving the most National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding of any public institution in the country.
Another recent milestone was philanthropist Chuck Feeney's $20 million gift through the Atlantic Philanthropies to establish a Global Health Sciences hub at Mission Bay.
"The vision behind this is to have one physical location for some of the researchers, scientists and students, and to jumpstart our vision to become one of the world's leading centers for global health sciences," Desmond-Hellmann said. "This gift for global health science really will be transformative for us."
Despite the current challenges, the chancellor pointed to her five-point strategic plan to lead the University into its upcoming 150-year anniversary in 2014 as the "world's preeminent health sciences innovator."
The plan was launched last year and has since been refined to include specific goals and metrics for success.
"They are not just words on a piece of paper, they're not just aspirational," Desmond-Hellmann said. "We're going to look at these and measure our success by these, and we can take action quickly if we're falling behind."
So far, UCSF is tracking well in nearly every area, said the chancellor, who invited key leaders to speak about achievements and challenges for each category.