Shaping Health and Health Care

reprinted from Issue 11, Fall 2010 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)

Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD
photo by Noah Berger

The cover story in this issue highlights several examples of how our outstanding faculty participates in shaping health and health care in this country. As a practicing pulmonologist, I have seen firsthand the ravages of tobacco abuse, e.g., emphysema, lung cancer, and a myriad of other conditions.

Tobacco abuse is the most preventable cause of premature death and morbidity in the developed world. Cigarette smoke is a complex mixture of more than 4,000 compounds and causes a variety of pulmonary, cardiac and systemic effects in humans. Thus, the importance of our efforts to create a smoke-free world and to help people stop smoking cannot be overstated.

Despite the difficult economic and political times, the Department of Medicine – the largest of the 28 academic departments at the UCSF School of Medicine – continues to do well. The Department is committed to advancing health by developing and supporting innovators in patient-centered care, scientific discovery, medical education and public policy. Its 38 divisions provide clinical services and conducts research at seven sites. We have more than 560 full-time and 500 volunteer clinical faculty, as well as 525 residents, fellows, and post-doctoral scholars. Many of our physicians and scientists belong to this country’s most prestigious scientific organizations, and many of our clinicians are counted among America’s best doctors.

Our patient care programs continue to be highly respected by our community, our peers and the media. For example, in its influential yearly ranking, the 2010 U.S. News and World Report ranked the overall Department third in the country among departments of internal medicine. In addition, several of our specialty programs were highly ranked, including: HIV/AIDS (#1), diabetes and endocrinology (#4), kidney disease (#8), cancer care (#8), respiratory disorders (#9), rheumatology (#10), geriatrics (#11), and digestive disorders (#15). Although U.S. News and World Report does not yet rank hospitalist programs, our program is generally acknowledged as the nation’s leader.

For more than a decade, the Department has ranked at or near the top among all departments of internal medicine in research dollars granted by the National Institutes of Health (NINIH), and was ranked #1 in the latest report. Including all funding sources, our basic and clinical researchers have successfully competed for more than 900 grants, fellowships and contracts totaling more than $208 million annually.

Given the many challenges that we face, the future of academic medicine may at first appear daunting. However, I find these times interesting and exciting because of our intellectually rich environment and the tools at hand to prevent, diagnose and cure many diseases. I believe that with our dedicated, world-class faculty and staff, who are committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and public policy, the UCSF Department of Medicine will long continue its role as a leader in academic medicine. Thank you for your support as we work to make the UCSF Department of Medicine truly the best in the country.


Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD
Chair, Department of Medicine
Julius R. Krevans Distinguished Professorship in Internal Medicine

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