October 02, 2018

In Memoriam: the death of Teri Liegler, professor in the Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine

Teri Liegler

We write with the sad news that one of our cherished DOM faculty members has passed away.

Teri Liegler, PhD, a professor in the Division of HIV, ID and Global Medicine based at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, died on September 26 after an eighteen-month battle with glioblastoma. She was 61 years old.

Teri was born in Chicago, IL, and raised in Anaheim, CA. She earned a BS from UC Irvine and a PhD from UC Berkeley. Inspired to help fight the HIV epidemic in San Francisco in the late 1980s, Teri began to study the pathogenesis of HIV as a post-doctoral fellow at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institute under the direction of Warner Greene.

Teri devoted her career to curbing the HIV epidemic. She joined the UCSF faculty in 2005 and quickly emerged as a national leader in clinical virology and laboratory science. She became director of the UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research Core Virology Core, where she pioneered methods for detection of HIV and drug resistance. She also provided core services that served as a cornerstone for numerous research studies involving “Ward 86” patients at ZSFG. Teri was a lead investigator on the landmark iPrEx, the first study to show that PrEP—treating uninfected persons to reduce the risk of HIV infection—was effective and safe in humans. Teri also led a critical study that put to rest a concern that PrEP would promote drug resistance. The importance of Teri’s role in promoting PrEP use cannot be overstated: it has prevented tens of thousands of patients from becoming infected, and is the foundation of global efforts to end AIDS. Working with Steve Deeks, Warner Greene and others, Teri also played a critical role in UCSF-led studies of HIV cure. She was also the virologist for the SEARCH study in Uganda and Kenya, studying antiretroviral therapy for HIV elimination delivered through a community health approach. 

Teri was a powerful advocate for women in science. In this work, she admired and was inspired by the Nobel prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock. Throughout her career, Teri shared her expertise selflessly with trainees and colleagues, and trained hundreds of laboratory investigators from around the world in virologic methods. Colleagues remember Teri as a brilliant researcher, compassionate mentor, and devoted friend, as well as someone who brought joy and passion to her work. Outside of work, she enjoyed spending time in the garden and cherished the company of friends and family, including her husband, Terry, daughter, Mhairi, and son, Spencer.

We mourn Teri’s passing, but we remember her remarkable life. The legacy she leaves at UCSF inspires us to commit to serving the greater good, and to celebrate the successes of collective efforts to combat HIV and other infectious diseases. A memorial service is being planned.



Diane Havlir, MD
Chief, Division of HIV, ID, and Global Medicine, ZSFG

Neil R. Powe, MD, MPH, MBA

Chief of the Medical Service, ZSFG and Vice Chair, Department of Medicine

Robert M. Wachter, MD
Chair, Department of Medicine