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Susan Desmond-Hellmann

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, M.D., M.P.H., was chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco. She assumed the post August 3, 2009 and recently departed in March of 2014.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. UCSF is the only campus in the 10-campus UC system devoted exclusively to the health sciences.

At UCSF, Desmond-Hellmann also holds appointment as Arthur and Toni Rembe Rock Distinguished Professor.

Before joining UCSF, she served as president of product development at Genentech, a position she held from March 2004 through April 30, 2009. In this role, she was responsible for Genentech's pre-clinical and clinical development, process research and development, business development and product portfolio management. She also served as a member of Genentech's executive committee, beginning in 1996. She joined Genentech in 1995 as a clinical scientist, and she was named chief medical officer in 1996. In 1999, she was named executive vice president of development and product operations. During her time at Genentech, several of the company's patient therapeutics (Lucentis, Avastin, Herceptin, Tarceva, Rituxan and Xolair) were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the company became the nation's No. 1 producer of anti-cancer drug treatments.

In November 2009, Forbes magazine named Desmond-Hellmann as one of the world's seven most "powerful innovators," calling her "a hero to legions of cancer patients." The seven were lauded for their curiosity, empathy and leadership.

She completed her clinical training at UCSF and is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology. She holds a bachelor of science degree in pre-medicine and a medical degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a master's degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley.

Prior to joining Genentech, Desmond-Hellmann was associate director of clinical cancer research at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute. While at Bristol-Myers Squibb, she was the project team leader for the cancer-fighting drug Taxol.

Desmond-Hellmann also has served as associate adjunct professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. During her tenure at UCSF, she spent two years as visiting faculty at the Uganda Cancer Institute, studying HIV/AIDS and cancer. She also spent two years in private practice as a medical oncologist before returning to clinical research.

In January 2009, Desmond-Hellmann joined the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Economic Advisory Council for a three-year term. In July 2008, she was appointed to the California Academy of Sciences board of trustees.

Desmond-Hellmann was named to the Biotech Hall of Fame in 2007 and as the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association Woman of the Year for 2006. She was listed among Fortune magazine's "top 50 most powerful women in business" in 2001 and from 2003 to 2008. In 2005 and 2006, the Wall Street Journal listed Desmond-Hellmann as one of its "women to watch."

From 2005 to 2008, Desmond-Hellmann served a three-year term as a member of the American Association for Cancer Research board of directors, and from 2001 to 2009, she served on the executive committee of the board of directors of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. She served on the corporate board of Affymetrix from 2004-2009.

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Recent Articles (12)

  1. Johnston SC, Desmond-Hellmann S, Hauser S, Vermillion E, Mia N. Predictors of negotiated NIH indirect rates at US institutions. PLoS One. 2015; 10(3):e0121273.

  2. Desmond-Hellmann S. Improving health with partnerships between academia and industry. JAMA Intern Med. 2013 Jun 24; 173(12):1051-2.

  3. Desmond-Hellmann S. Toward precision medicine: a new social contract? Sci Transl Med. 2012 Apr 11; 4(129):129ed3.

  4. Williams RS, Desmond-Hellmann S. Making translation work. Science. 2011 Jun 17; 332(6036):1359.

  5. Johnston SC, Hauser SL, Desmond-Hellmann S. Enhancing ties between academia and industry to improve health. Nat Med. 2011 Apr; 17(4):434-6.

  6. Desmond-Hellmann S. An audience with... Susan Desmond-Hellmann. Interview by... Asher Mullard. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2011 Mar; 10(3):170.

  7. Desmond-Hellmann S. 2010: awards show what translation can accomplish. Sci Transl Med. 2010 Dec 22; 2(63):63ed9.

  8. Abrams JS, Vena DA, Baltz J, Adams J, Montello M, Christian M, Onetto N, Desmond-Hellmann S, Canetta R, Friedman MA. Paclitaxel activity in heavily pretreated breast cancer: a National Cancer Institute Treatment Referral Center trial. J Clin Oncol. 1995 Aug; 13(8):2056-65.

  9. Hellmann NS, Nsubuga PS, Baingana-Baingi DJ, Desmond-Hellmann SD, Mbidde EK, Granowitz CB, Sande MA. Single-dose ampicillin/sulbactam versus ceftriaxone as treatment for uncomplicated gonorrhoea in a Ugandan STD clinic population with a high prevalence of PPNG infection. J Trop Med Hyg. 1995 Apr; 98(2):95-100.

  10. Basler GA, Desmond-Hellmann S, Florczyk AP. Paclitaxel-induced "recall" soft tissue injury. J Clin Oncol. 1995 Feb; 13(2):531.

  11. Desmond-Hellmann SD, Katongole-Mbidde E. Kaposi's sarcoma: recent developments. AIDS. 1991; 5 Suppl 1:S135-42.

  12. Desmond-Hellmann SD, Mbidde EK, Kizito A, Hellmann NS, Ziegler JL. The value of a clinical definition for epidemic KS in predicting HIV seropositivity in Africa. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1991; 4(7):647-51.

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