University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Year in Review: 2016

By Karen Gehrman | | December 16, 2016

Year in Review: 2016

2016 has been a year of growth, partnerships and progress at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Our researchers and clinicians, patients and families, community groups, and government and industry partners continued working to make cancer a manageable disease.


Please take some time to read the Annual Impact Report prepared by the UCSF Office of Development.


  • The San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN), a comprehensive city-wide partnership initiated by HDFCCC that aims to reduce cancer in San Francisco by using proven public health approaches in at-risk populations.   
  • As one of six cancer centers participating in the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and with a new Cancer Immunotherapy Program and corresponding clinic, UCSF is leading immunotherapy research to create more effective treatments that reflect individual biology, tumors, and immune system response.  

  • UCSF hosted Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden in April for a Cancer Moonshot summit. Moonshot uses the power of partnership, including HDFCCC leadership, to quicken the pace of cancer research discoveries.
  • Precision Promise (Pancreatic Cancer Action Network), a joint effort between the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, cancer research and treatment centers, and the pharmaceutical industry with the goal of doubling survival by 2020. HDFCCC is one of the twelve original sites.

SF CAN Advisory Board member Arnold Perkins, Mayor Edwin Lee, and UCSF's Valerie Yaeger and Stan Glantz launching the San Francisco Cancer Initiative at San Franciso City Hall.

The Cancer Moonshot summit at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo by Noah Berger


At the Center

The Cancer Center introduced its first Impact Grant Awards in the spring. Impact Grants, worth $250,000 over two years, are competitive awards to identify and fund high-risk/high-reward ideas that accelerate cancer research. The inaugural Impact Grants were awarded to researcher Eleni Linos, MD, MPH, DrPH, and Steven Francis, PhD, MS. The Impact Grant will return in 2017.

Cancer Center Members

Cancer Center membership grew substantially in 2016 and we now boast over 400 members participating in our ten multidisciplinary research programs. Cancer Center members received numerous accolades and several were recognized as national leaders in cancer research. Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, was named to the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People in the World; Mitchel Berger, MD, and Jeff Bluestone, PhD, were appointed to the White House Cancer Moonshot Expert Panel; and Eric Small, MD, was elected to the ASCO Board of Directors.

Precision Medicine  

We were proud to open the Center for BRCA Research. Led by Pamela Munster, MD, and Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, the Center combines research, training, and patient care to help people at risk for hereditary cancers. 

Our Precise Imaging for Cancer and Therapy (PICT) program, led by Sarah Nelson, PhD, aims to strengthen the relationship with Radiology to improve patient outcomes using more focal treatment.  Also, in February, the Molecular Oncology Initiative, under the direction of Michael Korn, MD, was formed to use the combined expertise of many people across UCSF to turn genomic findings into clinical recommendations for individual patients. Drawing on the program’s information stores, researcher-clinicians will develop treatment strategies based on the characteristics of each cancer case.

What's ahead

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, planning and design are underway for the Precision Cancer Medicine Building (PCMB). The PCMB will be located just steps from the UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building and UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital, making it easier for UCSF cancer patients to receive all of their care in one place. With its location at Mission Bay, the PCMB will foster collaboration among researchers, teaching faculty, clinicians, patients, and families. Groundbreaking is expected in the spring.  

As the year comes to a close, we are grateful to the patients, families, and donors who placed their trust and confidence in us this year. Together, we will push forward toward a cancer-free future.