January 04, 2022

The UCSF Department of Medicine in 2021: Another Year of Accomplishment in Trying Times

In last year’s year-in-review, I wrote that “both optimists and pessimists have plenty of material to work with.” That turned out to be spot-on for last year and, I’m afraid, for 2022 as well. While we’ve all been burned by predictions rendered inaccurate by variants – of both the viral and human behavior kind – hope does spring eternal.

There have certainly been times when my own patience has worn thin, and my usual glass-half-full outlook has been tested. That said, I do think 2022 is likely to be better, at least Covid-wise, even though this virus has proven itself to be an exceptionally wily foe, and there is no guarantee that we won’t see yet another curveball that rocks our world. Even if the virus cooperates and Omicron’s unique attributes (particularly that it is more infectious but less virulent) offer us a way out of the pandemic, we will need to take stock of the damage – physical and psychological – wrought by the past two years. In the next month or so, U.S. deaths from Covid-19 will likely exceed the entire population of San Francisco. Just take that in for a moment – it is staggering.

And the death count doesn’t account for people who continue to suffer Covid symptoms months after their infections, or those whose lives, education, and work have been massively disrupted by the pandemic, or the psychological damage exacted by constant anxiety and diminished opportunity to experience the joys of life. Add to that the toll of climate change, racial injustice, and our dysfunctional political system, and there’s plenty of reason to be glum.

Yet I can’t imagine a better place to be living or working than the Bay Area and UCSF. The people of the DOM have continued to demonstrate their skills, compassion, and resilience. While it’s been inspiring to watch, it’s not like everything is perfect. ­For clinicians, burnout is very real, as they manage swelling EHR inboxes and clinical services. For researchers, Covid has disrupted routines, created new staffing challenges, and sometimes shut everything down. For educators, while Zoom is better than nothing, sometimes it’s just that – better than nothing. We’ve all been robbed of that gratifying feeling of seeing an in-the-flesh trainee smile in response to feedback or a sage teaching point. And while our efforts in DEI are clearly a work-in-progress, the ongoing needs are as palpable as our successes.

The challenges in our work have been layered on top of the challenges of managing our lives as parents, children, friends, partners, and more. Yet there is much to be thankful for, and proud of. The university and our affiliated clinical sites have managed the pandemic thoughtfully, with a focus on evidence rather than dogma or politics. Much of our Covid response has been led by DOM colleagues, and we should be grateful to all of them. Our city and region have been national leaders in how to manage a pandemic – if the U.S. had matched San Francisco’s per capita death rate, more than 500,000 people who have died of Covid would be alive today. Our faculty are valued by the community and the nation at large as a source of accurate information and insight about the pandemic.

And through it all, our professional lives go on, and there is much to celebrate. We welcomed another group of exceptional leaders to the department this year; I’ve listed some key new leadership roles below, as well as some of the myriad honors that were bestowed on the department and our people in the past year. On top of these achievements, we cared for hundreds of thousands of patients, taught thousands of trainees, published 2,873 papers, brought in approximately $400 million in external funding, and contributed to the public and professional dialogue through hundreds of media appearances and thousands of tweets. In too many ways to count, you and your colleagues made the world a better place.

If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a few minutes to watch this DOM year-end video, which captures the optimism that shines through these dark times.

It is impossible to know what 2022 will bring when it comes to Covid. But I am 100% confident that the 2,596 exceptional faculty, trainees, and staff who make up this department will continue to improve the health and healthcare of the people we are privileged to serve. And that, above all, makes me optimistic about our future.


Bob Wachter's signature

Robert Wachter, MD
Chair, UCSF Department of Medicine
Holly Smith Distinguished Professor of Science and Medicine
Lynne and Marc Benioff Endowed Chair in Hospital Medicine



DOM Leadership Roles and Honors in 2021

Leadership Roles:

  • Michelle Albert: President-elect of the American Heart Association, and president of Association of University Cardiologists
  • Esteban Burchard: President-elect, UCSF Medical Alumni Association
  • Alicia Fernandez: Associate Dean for Population Health and Healthy Equity
  • Malcolm John: Medical Director of Health Equity for UCSF Health
  • Mike Harper: President-elect of American Geriatrics Society
  • Diane Havlir: Director, UCSF AIDS Research Institute
  • Liviu Klein: Chief of Advanced Heart Failure and Pulmonary Hypertension, and Medical Director of UCSF Heart Failure Comprehensive Care Center
  • Ryan Laponis: Program Director, Mt. Zion Primary Care Residency
  • Pam Ling: Director, UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education
  • Eddy Machtinger: Co-Director, UCLA/UCSF ACES Award Family Resilience Network
  • Angela Marks: DOM Administrative Director of Clinical Initiatives
  • Glenn Matfin: Chief of Medicine at UCSF Fresno and DOM Vice-Chair
  • Cherie Ros: Manager, Division of Prevention Sciences
  • Eleanor Bimla Schwarz: Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, ZSFG
  • Rupal Shah: Medical Director of Adult Inpatient Experience, UCSF Health
  • Ida Sim: Co-Program Director for UCSF-UC Berkeley Program in Computational Precision Health
  • Alex Smith: Executive Editor, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
  • Leonard Telesca: Manager, UCSF Health Divisions of Infectious Diseases, and Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy, & Sleep Medicine, and ZSFG Lung Biology Center


  • Department: US News & World Report ranked our DOM as the top Internal Medicine department in the U.S.
  • Individual divisions in the DOM were also highly ranked by US News: Diabetes and Endocrinology, #6; Rheumatology #7; Geriatrics #9; Pulmonary #11; and Cancer #11
  • Michelle Albert: Election to the National Academy of Medicine
  • Nicole Appelle, Cameron Ashbaugh, Soraya Azari, Kerry Cho: DOM Master Clinicians
  • Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Alicia Fernandez, Monica Gandhi, Diane Havlir, Margot Kushel, Carina Marquez: 2021 Distinguished Citizens Awards from the Commonwealth Club of California
  • Esteban Burchard: UCSF Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecturer
  • Carolyn Calfee: Mid-career Gold Medal in ARDS from European Respiratory Society
  • Chris Cassel: Walsh McDermott Medal for distinguished service to the National Academy of Medicine
  • Brooksley Bigart, Douglas Black, Michelle Cai, Crisna Castro, Michael Chang, Jennifer Cohen, Gato Gourley, Alejandra Jauregui, Emily Yeung: Spirit of DOM Awards
  • Pei Chen: Outstanding Junior Clinician-Educator of the Year Award from American Geriatrics Society
  • Pei Chen, Archna Eniasivam, Lynn Flint, Priya Kathpalia, Era Kryzhanovskaya, Mimi Margaretten, Binh An Phan, Sanziana Roman, Lekshmi Santhosh, Dan Wheeler, Heather Whelan: Election to the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators
  • Chi Chu, Beth Griffiths, Andy Lai, Lisa Ochoa-Frongia, Iris Otani, Aylin Ulku: AME Excellence in Teaching Awards
  • Denise Davis: Healthcare Communication Teaching Excellence Award from Academy of   Communication in Healthcare
  • Cynthia Delgado: Mid-career Distinguished Leader Award from American Society of Nephrology
  • Gurpreet Dhaliwal: inaugural recipient of Harry Hollander Teaching Award for Clinical Reasoning
  • Alicia Fernandez: UCSF Burbridge Award for Public Service
  • Monica Gandhi: June 15 declared Monica Gandhi Day in San Mateo County
  • Rabih Geha: Kaiser Teaching Award from UCSF SOM
  • Michelle Guy: UCSF Gold Headed Cane Society
  • Diane Havlir, Margot Kushel: Women of the Year Awards from Bay Area political leaders
  • Patti Katz: Lawren Daltroy Award for excellence in health communication from 21st Century Lupus Congress
  • Bridget Keenan: UCSF Chancellor Award for Advancement of Women
  • Pam Ling: Harold Luft Award for Mentoring in Health Services and Policy Research from Phillip Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
  • Gabriel Loeb: UCSF Physician-Scientist Scholar Program Award
  • Angela Marks: Chancellor Award for Exceptional University Management
  • Carina Marquez: Certificate of Honor from Mayor London Breed
  • Adrienne Mathis: Jaclyne Boyden Award from UCSF Academy of Medical Educators
  • Heather Nye: Federal Employee of the Year by SF Federal Executive Board
  • Neil Powe: Distinguished Alumni Award, Association of Black Princeton Alumni
  • Lekshmi Santhosh: Floyd Rector Housestaff Teaching Award
  • Urmimala Sarkar: Mid-career Research Mentorship Award, Society for General Internal Medicine
  • Sarah Schaeffer: DEI Award from the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine
  • Jae Sevelius: UCSF Chancellor Award for LGBTQIA Leadership
  • Dean Sheppard: UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award
  • Maya Vijayaraghavan: Women in Medicine Resilience Award from Women in Medicine
  • Heather Whelan: Maxine Papadakis Award from UCSF SOM
  • Jinoos Yazdany, Julie Zikherman: Election to American Society of Clinical Investigation

For more details on the above, visit past newsletters.