University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Li Ka Shing Gift Supports UCSF Quest for Precision Medicine

By Kristen Bole | | March 22, 2013

Li Ka Shing Gift Supports UCSF Quest for Precision Medicine

At UCSF Mission Bay, are from left, Eric Chow, Li Ka Shing Foundation; Leilynne Fong, Senior Director of Development at UCSF; Julia Hsiao, Li Ka Shing Foundation; Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, UCSF; UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann; Solina Chau, director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation and Regis Kelly, director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences.

The Li Ka Shing Foundation has pledged $2 million to support UC San Francisco’s efforts to advance precision medicine, an emerging field aimed at revolutionizing medical research and patient care.

The support – which will be used to build a worldwide network of clinicians and researchers, launch leadership exchanges between UCSF and China, and create a systems-pharmacology program to develop more precise medications – will serve as a cornerstone for UCSF’s work to lay the infrastructure for the field.

The concept of precision medicine, which emerged from a 2010 National Academy of Sciences report co-authored by UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, and Charles Sawyers, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is to transform medical care worldwide by integrating the wealth of data emerging from both the human genome and research on the molecular basis of disease, with information from patients’ health records and environmental data.

Collectively, this information will inform laboratory research and patient care, leading to new ways to precisely diagnose a patient’s condition based on his or her own genetics and background, and to develop customized therapies that are more effective, with fewer side effects. Each patient’s response to those therapies would further inform the science, creating a virtual loop that continuously builds our understanding of health and disease.

Precision medicine has become a driving vision for UCSF, the nation’s largest and most renowned university focused exclusively on health sciences.

"Our goal is to give every patient access to precise, predictive and personalized care, anywhere in the world," Desmond-Hellmann said. "Today, there are glimpses of the potential, as seen in targeted treatments for breast cancer, but we don’t have such targeted therapies for most diseases, including diabetes, and patients suffer as a result.

"We are very grateful to the Li Ka Shing Foundation for providing critical support in launching this initiative to make Precision Medicine a reality," she said. "This partnership is the cornerstone on which the next century of medicine will be built."

 This is the first grant UCSF has received from the Hong Kong-based charitable foundation, which has contributed nearly $1 billion to education, health care and cultural causes since it was founded in 1980 by the Honorable Li Ka-shing, GBM, KBE, JP.

The grant creates a pioneering new partnership between the Foundation, UCSF, and Shantou University, a university in Southeast China’s Guangdong Province that is supported by the Foundation and is building an advanced curriculum focused on the life sciences.