Year in Review: 2020
By Karen Gehrman | HDFCCC | December 16, 2020
This year was difficult for all of us, personally and collectively. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed every aspect of our lives and called for us to adapt in unprecedented ways. It was gratifying – yet not surprising – to see how the UCSF community met the challenges of 2020. In cancer, our care teams and scientists met limitations and setbacks with compassion and innovation. They provided the excellent care for which UCSF is known, and continued making advances on all fronts.
Here are some highlights about the people and events that shaped our year.
As COVID Arrives, Team Science Steps Up
Health Disparities in Cancer and in COVID
Cancer Research Highlights
Ongoing efforts of the San Francisco Cancer Initiative continued to improve the health of the city's residents. Tobacco cessation methods included multiple interventions for at-risk populations, and the city-wide ban on flavored tobacco, championed by SFCAN leadership in 2017, was expanded to a statewide ban across California. SFCAN research contributed to increased colorectal cancer screening efforts in safety net settings, as well as a novel geographic analysis of the breast cancer in San Francisco to strategize neighborhood-specific interventions.
Our People: Spotlights, Honors, Transitions
Our physicians, scientists, administrators, and staff exemplify the breadth, dedication, and drive of our mission.
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Expanding UCSF's Cancer Expertise
UCSF Health opened new patient care centers in San Mateo and Redwood City to enable patients to receive UCSF primary, specialty, and cancer care in convenient locations close to home. Additionally, the UCSF-John Muir Health Cancer Center was opened in in the jointly operated Berkeley Outpatient Center, one of several locations planned in a developing East Bay cancer network.
Through national leadership roles, our cancer clinicians offered guidelines on safety for oncology patients and healthcare workers, screening guidelines for preventive procedures such as colonoscopies, and recommendations for how to continue cancer care during the pandemic.
Our longest running podcast, the Bay Area Breast Cancer Forum, continued to translate the latest research findings to patients and patient advocates, with a modified format for Zoom which made it more accessible. Meanwhile our CureTalks podcast series covered the latest in brain tumor research and treatment, cancer palliative care, and new findings in gastrointestinal cancers.
Awards and Honors
In August, US News & World Report once again listed UCSF Medical Center in the top hospitals in the US, and among the nation's most renowned for excellence in 15 adult specialties. From new National Academy of Medicine members and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellows, to 2020 Conquer Cancer Young Investigator Awards, Cancer Center members continued to be recognized as national leaders in cancer research. View our list of awards and honors received in 2020.
Transitions: Welcomes and Farewells
Cancer Center Membership grew alongside our industry and health system affiliations, welcoming over 30 new researchers in 2020. We note the retirement of many dedicated individuals after a lifetime of service at UCSF. Stanton Glantz, MD, director of the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, retired in September 2020 after 45 years on the faculty. Paul Volberding, MD is retiring at the end of December and stepping down as Director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, as are Anja Wenrick, RN and Assistant Nurse Manager, Jay Trovato, RN, HDFCCC Finance Manager Joyce Nakamura, and Preclinical Therapeutics Core manager Byron Hann, PhD.
The UCSF cancer community mourned the loss of "scientifically fearless" Zena Werb, PhD, our Associate Director of Basic Science, in June.
As the world collectively endures the challenge of COVID in our communities, we share the grief of those who lost loved ones this year.