May 1, 2017
Brava and bravo to all of the educators in our ranks who give their all towards encouraging our professional and graduate students to approach science and health care with critical thinking and a spirit of inquiry. The coming months are when we celebrate their accomplishments and hard work. Hats off to everyone who is about to graduate, and I send my best wishes to the graduates for a bright and fulfilling future and to the faculty, trainees, family, and friends who supported them throughout the academic journey.
This month, you’ll read about new and important things happening at UCSF:
- Sexual Harassment Stops Now: New resources and policies towards zero tolerance
- The New and Awesome Parnassus: What’s going on?
- Bold Steps in Biotech: New approach for innovation and entrepreneurship
Perhaps you have an idea for a future Expresso, or a reaction to something I’ve written here. I’d love to hear it! Please write to me at ExecutiveViceChancellor@ucsf.edu. Thanks for reading!
Sexual Harassment Stops Now: New resources and policies towards zero tolerance
Let’s be clear: There is no place for sexual harassment – period! Yet as recent news reports have revealed, this pernicious problem remains with us. In the wake of highly publicized incidents around the country and the release of data showing UCSF has its own problems, Chancellor Sam Hawgood sent an email last month detailing what UCSF is doing to improve our culture and environment, and the steps UCSF is taking to fully support all members of our community.
According to Vice Chancellor of Diversity and Outreach Renee Navarro, UCSF, over the past four years, has worked hard to improve our policies, procedures, and practices. She says, "It’s been a herculean effort...We’ve come a long way, but we won’t be satisfied until harassment is eliminated.” Renee emphasizes her office’s intention to deal meticulously with harassment related to gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. “People who come here to learn, work, or study should not be burdened by harassment for any reason.” Toward that end, in 2014 Nyoki Sacramento was hired into the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination and is now our Title IX coordinator. Title IX is the federal statute that forbids unequal treatment based on gender. The Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) handles complaints, working quickly to gather facts and oversee the process for neutral investigation and resolution of complaints. It also trains complaint resolution officers and is improving its record-keeping.
The following year, Denise Caramagno was brought on board as our CARE Advocate, which stands for Campus Advocacy Resources and Education. Denise was initially hired to ensure students are safe and protected, which remains a critical mission, given what Renee calls “the power differential between faculty and learners,” but her work quickly expanded to serve the whole community, including students, faculty, staff, and trainees. As a licensed psychotherapist with a master’s in counseling psychology, Denise has worked for years helping people who have experienced violence in various forms, including individuals who prefer not to report an incident but still need assistance dealing with a difficult situation. “CARE services are free and confidential,” she says.
You can find the OPHD and CARE office online, and to learn more about other UCSF resources, read the chancellor’s email. We have many other resources available, including Student Health & Counseling, the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program, and the Office of the Ombuds. Resources also are available to assist those accused of harassment.
University of California President Janet Napolitano has emphasized the need to make sure every campus commits to providing a safe environment for everyone (stay up to date by visiting the systemwide website), and the UC Office of the President has made several recommendations that UCSF is implementing. Brian Alldredge, vice provost for academic affairs, is working to actualize those changes as they relate to faculty, including increased notice to complainants about the process and outcomes relating to complaints and new opportunities for complainants and respondents to have their views heard. Brian’s office is also assembling a standing peer review committee that will hear faculty cases and make recommendations for discipline to the chancellor. This committee of 15 faculty members and administrators has received training on these matters to ensure discipline is proportional and designed to stop misconduct. Brian has recruited volunteers from the already large pool of individuals who serve on faculty code of conduct cases. “Faculty are totally stepping up and willing to engage in the process,” Brian says. “They report, ‘It’s a lot of work, it took a lot of time I didn’t have, and I’m really glad I participated.’”
I’ll conclude by saying that, similar to so many of us at UCSF, I feel really, really strongly about this issue. There is absolutely no justification for sexual harassment, let alone harassment related to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other aspects of who we are. At the least, it may deprive one of one’s dignity and ability to work effectively. At its worst, it can do irreparable harm and ruin a life. I join the chancellor in reminding everyone that UCSF’s PRIDE values—professionalism, respect, integrity, diversity and excellence—include respect for consent with regard to sexual behavior. If we personify these values as fundamental to all our relationships and endeavors, we will make UCSF a safe, supportive, and respectful environment for everyone.
The New and Awesome Parnassus: What’s going on?
Many of you have stopped me in the hallways and asked what’s up with Parnassus and the future of our campus. I am aware there are a number of rumors flying around, and, as such, would like to share what’s going on.
By way of background, as a faculty member and part of the Parnassus community for so many years, I, like many of you, have noted the growing disparity between Parnassus and Mission Bay. (And please note that my focus here is on Parnassus, recognizing there are important, parallel issues with our other sites around the city.) Don’t get me wrong, I love it here – our neighborhood feel, our proximity to Golden Gate Park, and our campus-like feeling – but I’m with others on the need to make our campus much more modern, inviting, accessible – a state-of-the-art research, patient care, and education facility, and a welcoming center for the community.
As we reported about a year ago, in the May 2016 edition of Expresso, I put together a task force of concerned Parnassus-based stakeholders to help envision what Parnassus could and should look like as a flagship of our incredible institution, focusing on all three mission areas. The work done by both the task force and the Capital Campaign planning effort has helped stimulate and move forward a number of great ideas. Collectively, these programmatic ideas and approaches constitute what we're calling “The New Parnassus.” In the past two months I’ve met with and discussed several proposals with program leads, all around the theme of enhancing research at Parnassus – in a big way. We most recently had a meeting of numerous stakeholders to share their respective ideas. The collective vision for what our campus could become – as a place for state-of-the-art education, cutting edge research, and the finest care of patients – is incredibly inspiring.
I am, with UCSF leadership, working on the best way to move these ideas forward – incorporating what needs to happen in terms of development, capital planning, and of course finances. We face significant budget and capital constraints, which are not being helped by the uncertain and confusing political environment that has enveloped the nation. At the same time, I keenly appreciate the zeal of our Parnassus faculty and the truly awesome visions they are developing, and am optimistic for what we can do to develop a truly unique identity for Parnassus for the future. Please be aware – no decisions have been made yet on specific programs or projects. Work is being done to define the parameters of what comes next – for example, capital planning is working with architectural partners to develop cost estimates, timelines, and scope for physical and infrastructural improvements, and our space planning committees are incredibly busy working on next steps with respect to how best to plan for Parnassus with the requirement to rebuild Moffitt Hospital by 2030. All of this work is happening now, and we will need the information that comes out of it to determine what is feasible, what’s timely, and how to move forward.
I will continue to update the community as we progress. Feel free to ask questions. And our plan is to hold a Town Hall meeting some time this summer once we have more information.
Bold Steps in Biotech: New approach for innovation and entrepreneurship
Time and again we see our future in advancing education, discovery, and patient care through innovation, and I am excited that UCSF now has a new role and leader to harness all of our efforts and energy in a direction that will make UCSF the leader in life sciences innovation. The function is vice chancellor – business development, innovation and partnerships (I guess that comes out as VC-BDIP?), and its inaugural incumbent is Harold E. “Barry” Selick, PhD. Not a newbie to UCSF, Barry did his postdoctoral research in Bruce Alberts’ lab here from 1983 through 1988, and last month on April 3 he came home to UCSF after a long, successful career in industry, including the last 15 years as CEO of Threshold Pharmaceuticals.
The VC-BDIP is a new function created to spur innovation and accelerate bringing discoveries to patients, and we are very optimistic that in this position, Barry will unite innovators across our campus and lead our efforts to transform healthcare. As Reg Kelly, director of QB3, puts it so eloquently: “It’s a big goal: Make UCSF the premier life sciences entrepreneurship campus in the country.” And, Barry has a bold idea: raise $50 million in philanthropic dollars and use that money as a venture fund of sorts. This would enable further development of early inventions before being licensed or forming the basis of new companies, thereby improving their chances of success while retaining greater value to the university and its inventors.
As Reg explains, innovators on campus who come up with a great idea now have two options: either license the technology to an outside company, or work with QB3 to start their own company. Reg loves Barry’s concept for a third choice, because perhaps the return from licensing doesn’t match all the effort that was required, or a new company wouldn’t succeed. “Maybe we’re taking the baby away from the parents too early,” Reg says. “We have seen this happen,” where technology is taken away from the people who developed it, only to have it wither and die in other hands. Such failures mean the loss of a potential treatment or even cure. “It’s a loss to society,” he says. If we keep the technology on campus, nurture it, and wait until it’s mature—until the concept is proven—it would be worth so much more to the outside world.
Barry sees the idea as “turning the paradigm on its head.” The way things work now is that something is developed on campus, and maybe a multi-million dollar partnership is announced with a pharmaceutical company. But the dollar amount is never what it seems, as many milestones have to be met for all that money to flow back to the campus and the scientists.
“Rather than going to Pharma with hat in hand, why don’t we raise our own fund?” Barry asks. “We could take the best programs and develop them ourselves to what I would call ‘proof of concept.’ If, for example, we have what we think is a way to cure cancer, maybe we manufacture the molecule, do careful testing in patients, see if it’s safe and efficacious, and then step back and evaluate development options from a position of strength. Instead of taking our concept to a company, let’s fund the early development ourselves, so that at the end of the day, we have an actual product candidate, not just a concept.” This has so much more promise for getting effective therapies to the patients we serve.
Barry is worth listening to on this topic. Even though he’s had a long career in business, he considers himself a scientist first. Our esteemed colleague Charly Craik, who served as the chair of the search committee that identified and vetted Barry, backs him up on that. “He brings such great value,” Charly says. “He is a scientist’s scientist, and has experience in the biotech and pharmaceutical space.”
Charly tells how, when Barry left his postdoc position at UCSF, he went to work at Protein Design Labs, where he co-invented the technology underlying the creation of fully humanized antibody therapeutics, which ultimately contributed to the development of more than a dozen successful therapeutics—one of the top 10 patents in all of biotech.
UCSF is increasingly entering into partnerships with the vibrant tech culture here in the Bay Area. We’re considered the birthplace of the biotech industry, the start of which many say was when our own Herb Boyer teamed with venture capitalist Robert Swanson to start Genentech in 1976. In recent years, reports show more than 185 other companies have started up out of UCSF labs, and our programs and units like QB3 (the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences), our Office of Technology Management, Catalyst in the Clinical and Translational Sciences InstituteEntrepreneurship Center are dedicated to expanding innovation, industry partnerships, and even stronger connections with Bay Area biotech – and now we have a lead to take us the extra mile.
Learn more about Barry online. And if he knocks on your door…open it!
Dan’s Tip of the Month
Have you ever put any thought into the concept of work-life balance? (Just kidding...) Well, I recently came across what I think is a hidden gem of a book – The Three Marriages, by the poet and author David Whyte. I found Whyte’s perspective to be profoundly insightful and entirely different from the typical views and pundit solutions we seem to share on the subject. Perhaps it’s even a game changer when it comes to the seemingly universal struggle to keep all those spinning plates in the air at once. If anyone is interested in getting together to examine the book more closely as a group, please let me know!