Dear Timmy: San Francisco magazine, Sept. 4, 2015

Dear Timmy An open letter to Tim Lincecum on the occasion of his probable Giants farewell. By Dan Fost | September 4, 2015 It’s painful to think of this as a farewell letter,...

Dan Fost

Basic Scientists & Clinicians Find Shared Interests As Partners: UCSF, December 16, 2014

I wrote three stories for the UCSF School of Medicine home page in December about how clinical departments are increasingly hiring scientists who conduct basic research, and this collaboration is leading to greater discoveries. This story is a sidebar about the hiring process. The mainbar looks at some particularly fruitful collaborations, and another sidebar profiles Mark Ansel, the new director of UCSF’s Biomedical Sciences Program (BMS).

Basic Scientists & Clinicians Find Shared Interests As Partners

By Dan Fost

Basic scientists are finding their way into many parts of UCSF and helping clinicians better understand their patients’ diseases. In turn, basic scientists are learning from the clinicians’ experience with those patients on a day-to-day basis.

“One of the things that is awesome about UCSF is that, although we have nine basic science graduate programs, the faculty that participates in those programs spans more than 30 departments,” said Theresa O’Brien, PhD, Associate Chancellor and Associate Dean for Research Strategy for the UCSF School of Medicine.

That type of collaboration also extends into hiring. Dean Sheppard, MD, Chief of the Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep division and Director of the Lung Biology Center, said his division recruits basic scientists, “but always jointly with basic science departments. These departments are a little strapped, but they have a joint interest in the scientists we want to recruit.”

Sheppard cited examples including Jason Rock, PhD, in the Departments of Anatomy, Medicine and the Cardiovascular Research Institute; Christopher Allen, PhD, in the Cardiovascular Research Institute, the Department of Anatomy, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Sandler Asthma Basic Research Center; and Akiko Hata, PhD, in the Cardiovascular Research Institute.

While the trend may be on the rise, it is not especially new. Sheppard said his division has been recruiting both MD-trained and PhD-trained basic scientists for at least the 34 years that he’s been at UCSF, and one-third of the clinicians in his division are engaged in basic research. That track record “has made it easier for me to establish collaborative efforts to recruit people with the basic science departments,” he said. “It’s a winning situation for both sides.”

About Dan Fost

Dan Fost is a freelance writer in the San Francisco Bay Area whose credits include Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, USA Today and San Francisco magazine. He specializes in technology, but branches out into baseball and other features. Dan’s books, "Giants Baseball Experience" and “Giants Past and Present,” about San Francisco's championship baseball team and its New York antecedents, were published by MVP Books in 2014 and 2010. As a staff writer at the San Francisco Chronicle for nine years, he had a front row seat at the rise and fall of the dotcoms, as well as their resurrection in the form of Web 2.0. In a lengthy career in newspapers, he has covered sports, social ventures, the environment, education, police, business, and politics. He is a native of New Jersey and a graduate of Boston University. He lives in Marin County, Calif., with his wife and son.
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