The Generosity of our Donors Changes Lives Every Day

Every day, we hear from people whose lives have been forever changed by the generosity of UCSF’s donors. Their stories highlight how you power our work to solve the hardest problems in health.

You fuel our work to improve health locally and globally. 

“I arrived at UCSF as a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratories of Qizhi Tang and Jeff Bluestone. My goal is to develop the next generation of cell-based therapies for type 1 diabetes and transplant rejection. UCSF impressed me since day one. It boasts an outstanding immunology community, with several Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators and National Academy of Sciences members in one building, as well as weekly seminars by world experts. 

“Here, there is an openness and innovation like I've never experienced before. Everyone shares their ideas and is quick at helping with feedback, reagents, and even specific techniques. I'm interested in working at the intersection of basic immunology and cell and gene therapy. UCSF has a physical bridge between the stem cell research building and the Medical Sciences Building, which I always see as a symbol of integration and synergy between these two burgeoning fields. 

“UCSF is also a fun place to work, with a strong sense of community and a burning desire to innovate and help science move as fast as possible into what I know is a bright future. At UCSF, tomorrow is happening today.” – Leonardo Ferreira, PhD, postdoctoral scholar in immunology 

Your gifts allow us to make discoveries that revolutionize health care. 

“In August 2017, our son Casen’s seizures were out of control, despite high doses of three different anti-epileptic drugs. The local children’s hospital near our home in Northern Idaho told us this was simply disease progression, and there was nothing they could do for him. He was placed on hospice status and sent home. 

“The next month, we flew to San Francisco and took Casen to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. He couldn't talk or walk and was reduced to a lethargic, 4-year-old boy. His condition was dire. We braced ourselves for the news that he should remain on hospice status. Instead, using whole-exome sequencing, UCSF’s genetics team identified Casen’s incredibly rare genetic mutation, KCTD7, which presents with treatment-resistant epilepsy, and Dr. Roberta Cilio started him on a course of high-dose steroids. 

“Fast forward to October 2017. Casen was back at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital for a repeat EEG. Dr. Cilio and team came in to see him, and Casen said ‘Hello, how are you doing?’ At that moment, I thought the doctor was going to fall over! She had the biggest smile on her face because he was talking, and she could understand what he was saying. Casen walked circles around the room, and I could see tears forming in Dr. Cilio’s eyes. He was a completely different child than she had seen in September. The steroids had worked. 

“Today Casen is the best he has ever been. He is walking, talking, running, playing, and learning, just like a typical 6-year-old. UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital gave us our son back. We will be forever grateful and thankful for the brilliant minds who have given us more time with our son.” – Katie Hawkins 

You are crucial to our work to achieve health equity.  

“My mother was diagnosed with an undifferentiated, unknown primary stage 4 cancer while I was studying molecular biology at UC Berkeley. We were told she had no more than six months to live. After an unsuccessful surgery, she was sent home by her East Bay surgeon, and we were told it was time to get her affairs in order and prepare for her passing. A few days later, my mother¹s oncologist had the humility to refer her to UCSF. 

“She was seen by Dr. Thierry Jahan, who was working with a relatively new class of drugs called taxanes. Dr. Jahan took the time to get to know my mother, and by the end of their first consultation, he understood that she had never smoked but lived through childhood poverty and had high exposures to pesticides. He surmised that she had developed lung cancer as a result of pesticide exposure and began treating her with Taxol. Dr. Jahan's combination of insatiable intellectual curiosity and compassionate desire to understand his patients as unique individuals resulted in his lifesaving insight. Today, my mother remains cancer-free, 19 years after being told there was nothing to hope for, thanks to UCSF and its outstanding physicians. 

“Seeing firsthand how cutting-edge medicine and compassionate care could go together to produce a miraculous outcome changed the course of my life. It inspired me to pursue medical school and oncology as my specialty. During my medical training, I researched multidrug-resistant mechanisms to try to understand why others did not benefit from taxanes as my mother did. 

“I am deeply grateful I had the opportunity to work at UCSF as a postdoctoral scholar, surrounded by experts working tirelessly to improve quality of life for patients with metastatic breast cancer. I am inspired every day by their vision and tireless pursuit of better health for all, including those who are marginalized and lack resources. I remain deeply grateful for the personal experience I had with the doctors at UCSF. It informed the kind of physician I aspire to be: one committed to improving outcomes and access for all patients through innovative, patient-centered care.” – Celine Marquez, MD 

Your giving inspires a world of good health.

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