Program for Historical Reconciliation


The UCSF Program for Historical Reconciliation will respond to questions and concerns raised by our community about UCSF’s history. When warranted, the Program will conduct historical investigation into institutional legacies and any claims of past unethical conduct to bring forth information relating to biomedical and clinical research, the University’s relationship to philanthropists and industry, and the University’s growth in the San Francisco Bay community and beyond. This research unit is a coordinated effort by faculty in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and staff in UCSF Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Executive Report

The Case of Howard I. Maibach


A Message from Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Catherine R. Lucey - February 19, 2023

UCSF began the work of the Program on Historical Reconciliation (PHR) in December 2021 to address our community members’ concerns about past research carried out by our faculty members and to account for UCSF’s institutional responsibilities. Since publishing our initial report and Dr. Howard Maibach’s response one year later, we have received many comments as well as recommendations for future work.

What stands out in the totality of responses is the diversity of perspectives, and the complexity and controversy of reckoning with the past activities of our institution, our faculty, and our profession. We have received many testimonials from colleagues and trainees of Dr. Maibach who emphasize his positive contributions to the field of dermatology and feel that we have treated him unfairly. We have received communications from others who are deeply critical of UCSF’s failure to address these issues more promptly and with greater accountability. Still, others have thanked us for taking the first step in acknowledging that that past research, while it may have been well intended, did not live up to our current PRIDE Values.

These responses echo the insights that our PHR team gleaned in producing the initial report. The team recommended, and we have agreed to support, additional study into UCSF’s institutional systems responsible for faculty oversight, both during and following the California Medical Facility era. We have charged them to continue their work in reviewing the work of additional UCSF faculty, both those who conducted the work and those who supervised those faculty. In addition, we have asked them to evaluate the institutional systems that were meant to protect people who participated in the research studies.

As the new Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, I will appoint a new ad hoc advisory board to fulfill our oversight responsibilities. I commit to continue supporting the PHR work with the principle of full transparency of our findings. It is true that we can prevent repeating the mistakes of the past only by understanding and learning from our history. I look forward to sharing our work with you and continuing to engage with the many people supporting UCSF in its work to continuously improve.



The Program’s activities will follow the procedures and principles of conduct articulated below and will (1) provide recommendations to UCSF leadership about potential further actions to address or remedy problems and (2) advance the public understanding of any issues that are discovered. The results of the Program’s investigations will be provided in reports to the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, and copied to the Advisory Board for review and guidance on best steps to present the Program’s findings, including options such as an educational public forum, a library exhibit, or a narrative history on a UCSF website.

  1. Notice of concerns: Concerns about past research or clinical activities, legacies reflected in artwork or campus names, or other aspects of UCSF’s history can originate from within our institution or be expressed from the community at large. Such matters can be referred to the Program director for review and further action. The Program will have a website portal to provide information on its remit and contact information.
  2. Discovery phase: If a matter is considered relevant to the Program’s remit, the Program’s researchers will consult archival collections related to the claim.
  3. Ad hoc expert panel: We can expect that each topic has different stakeholders and parties of interest (for example, a concern relating to a particular clinical activity is of special relevance to a department or specialty). Therefore, during the discovery phase an expert panel would be established to review findings from the researchers and provide insight to the content under discussion. Membership might include individuals from UCSF departments, outside historians, bioethicists, or members of relevant community organizations. The panel would review preliminary findings of the Program, represent different points of view on the historical significance of the content, and provide recommendations for the final report.
  4. Transparency and accessibility: The Program aims to democratize the data and make its findings accessible via digitization and presentation on the website.
  5. Educational outcomes: All aspects of UCSF’s history provide an opportunity to illuminate advances in research and clinical care, however sensitive or controversial they are now found to be. It is a Program objective to develop an educational platform to explain past practices in the history of biomedicine and the impact past actions have had on health care, both laudable and harmful to our communities.


Program Directors

The program directors will oversee the research activities (data collection, analysis, and synthesis for the report). They are trained in historical research, will develop recommended educational materials relating to the topic, and are here listed:

  • Brian Dolan, PhD, Chair, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences (Professor of History of Health Sciences)
  • Aimee Medeiros, PhD, Graduate Program Director, History of Health Sciences (and faculty co-lead of UCSF’s REPAIR Project)
  • Polina Ilieva, PhD, Associate University Librarian for Collections and University Archivist

Advisory Board

The advisory board is made aware of all research projects undertaken by the Program that arise out of concern about institutional legacies and review preliminary findings with the intent of recommending best action plans for making public the findings. Some matters will be of interest for public and community relations, may relate to other ongoing development concerns, or fit in with wider efforts to promote the public understanding of biomedical pursuits at UCSF that this group can share information about.