Saturday Night Stories

UCSF physicians and researchers share their personal stories of challenges overcome, history confronted, and the events and inspirations that changed their lives.

We are living in a remarkable period of unprecedented knowledge creation, a time in which we face extreme global challenges but also incredible opportunities for addressing them. In this limited-run podcast series, we go behind the scenes of some of the most interesting and important breakthroughs in human biology and patient care. Each episode brings you deeply personal stories of the curiosity, inspiration, and sacrifice it takes to solve the most difficult problems in health today.

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Show Notes

Episode 1: Refusing to Take “No” for an Answer

What do you do when you can’t get the health care you need? When a science experiment literally almost explodes in your face? When you’re told, time and again, that you don’t have what it takes? In this episode, we hear from a psychiatrist, an immunologist, and an engineer with three very different stories about refusing to take “no” for an answer.

[01:13] Story by Christina Mangurian, MD, MAS, the director and co-founder of the UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellowship program at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and vice-chair of diversity and health equity in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

[09:00] Story by Max Krummel, PhD, a professor of pathology and the co-founder and inaugural chair of the UCSF Bakar ImmunoX Initiative

[15:52] Story by Tejal Desai, PhD, a professor and chair of the UCSF Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences and the director of the Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE) initiative

Mentioned in This Episode:
UCSF Public Psychiatry Fellowship
UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
UCSF Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
UCSF Bakar ImmunoX Initiative
2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for cancer immunotherapy research
UCSF Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE)


Episode 2: Shining a Light on Racial Injustice

During a pilgrimage to Alabama, Judy Young confronts hard truths about our country’s history of racial trauma. Judy’s relatives, Henry Corbin and Simon Garnett, were lynched by white mobs in Oxford, Ohio more than a century ago. In searching for her relatives’ names at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which honors Black victims of lynching, Judy redefines her purpose and deepens her commitment to her own work toward racial justice and health equity.

[00:58] Story by Judy Young, MPH, executive director of the UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and co-director of the Black Women’s Health and Livelihood Initiative

Mentioned in This Episode:
UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health
UCSF Black Women’s Health and Livelihood Initiative
GLIDE Center for Social Justice
National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Just Mercy (book and feature film)


Episode 3: Discovering Cures Through the Wonders of Saliva

Tissue biologist Sarah Knox has long been fascinated with saliva and how the glands that make it develop. Just when she begins to doubt whether her singular passion will lead to real-world impact, an old family friend reaches out to her with a problem only she may be able to solve.

[00:49] Story by Sarah Knox, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Cell and Tissue Biology at the UCSF School of Dentistry

Mentioned in This Episode:
UCSF Department of Cell and Tissue Biology
Discovery that nerves are essential for organ development
Knox Lab at UCSF
Preliminary research showing salivary gland regeneration in mice


Episode 4: Mentoring Through Loss and Love

Moments before flying home from a family vacation, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong receives devastating news: A protégé and former student of his has been killed in a shooting. Paralyzed by grief, Dr. Chin-Hong struggles to once again open his heart to the students and trainees he cares so deeply about.

[00:52] Story by Peter Chin-Hong, MD, UCSF’s associate dean for regional campuses and a professor in the UCSF School of Medicine

Mentioned in This Episode:
In Memorium: Shane Colombo
Dr. Chin-Hong named UCSF associate dean for regional campuses to help build the physician workforce in California’s Central Valley


Episode 5: Forging a New Field of Microbiome Medicine

Bedridden by an infection, 7-year-old Sue Lynch discovers the wondrous world of microbes in the pages of her family encyclopedia. Her fascination with fungi, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms leads her from her childhood home in rural Ireland to California to study microbiology and its impact on human health. Frustrated by the field’s limitations, however, she forges her own path to become a pioneer in the burgeoning field of microbiome medicine.

[00:46] Story by Susan Lynch, PhD, a UCSF professor of medicine and director of the Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine

Mentioned in This Episode:
UCSF Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine
Research linking childhood asthma to the infant microbiome


Episode 6: Creating Human Connection to Foster a Fairer World

Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, people with severe mental illness who receive psychiatric services from Dr. Fumi Mitsuishi’s clinic in San Francisco are dying at a rate 13 times higher than that of the general population. After the death of one of her own patients, Dr. Mitsuishi struggles to process the loss of a life that reminds her in many ways of her own. Her journey leads her deeper inside herself, where she confronts the common humanity that fuels her life’s work.

[00:52] Story by Fumi Mitsuishi, MD, MS, director of UCSF’s Division of Citywide Case Management Programs and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences

Mentioned in This Episode:
UCSF Division of Citywide Case Management Programs
Citywide teams turn to telehealth to continue care during the COVID-19 pandemic


Thank you to host Liz Neeley and to Matt Logan for providing his original song for the credits music. Mr. Logan helps hospitalized children manage pain, build resilience, and find joy as a board-certified music therapist for the Music Therapy Program at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.