UCSF Insights

At UCSF, pursuing grand challenges is the culmination of everything we do. We band together, across departments and disciplines and with private companies and public health agencies, to solve some of the world’s most intractable health challenges.

Through the UCSF Insights series, we share the research that is shaping health and health care today. The series explores these insights through the eyes of the UCSF experts on the front lines of astonishing discoveries, giving our audiences an exclusive look into the brilliant minds that are influencing and transforming the field of science today, and ultimately, the health care of tomorrow.


Past Events:

How UCSF is Revolutionizing Health Care in the Wake of COVID

The US health care system as we know it is transforming as we emerge from the global disruption of the coronavirus pandemic – and UCSF is leading the chargeDigital health approaches and technologies have fundamentally changed the way hospitals and clinics operate. Infectious-disease experts have doubled down on understanding pathogens and preventing future pandemics. New inter-institutional bridges have already formed to advance scientific research, including drug and therapeutic development. Join us at this virtual event to hear directly from UCSF’s leaders in these fields about how COVID-19 has changed the landscape of research and clinical care 

June 28, 2021


Professor, UCSF Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
Director, Quantitative Biosciences Institute
Investigator, J. David Gladstone Institutes

Dr. Krogan’s work focuses on integrating proteomics and genetics to study infectious diseases, cancer, and neurological disorders. His lab’s efforts to understand the molecular intricacies of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and how it hijacks human cells were integral in developing drugs with strong antiviral effects against the disease.

Associate Professor, UCSF Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism
Director of Clinical Informatics, UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation

Dr. Neinstein leads digital product and innovation teams toward the goal of empowering patients and physicians to better access, share, understand, and use health information for more connected, collaborative care. His team at the UCSF CDHI focuses on digital transformation of care delivery at UCSF, development and commercialization of novel technologies, and enablement of interoperability and a national digital health ecosystem.

Professor, UCSF Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Dr. Sil researches and builds tools to study the molecular biology of the fungal pathogen Histoplasma capsulatum, which is thought to be the primary cause of fungal respiratory infections around the world. She also studies the local pathogen Coccidioides immitis, which causes valley fever in California’s Central Valley. Her work with UCSF’s multidisciplinary iMicro Initiative strives to better understand microbial pathogens and curb their role in infectious disease. Dr. Sil’s work has been recognized by the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, the Ellison Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, where she was an early-career investigator from 2009 to 2015.

The COVID Compass:
Finding Our Way Forward

As vaccine campaigns accelerate and new coronavirus variants emerge, we again face the question “What is the new normal?” At our spring UCSF Insights event, The COVID Compass: Finding Our Way Forward, UCSF experts will discuss their outlook on what lies ahead as well as today’s most pressing topics, including updates on the new and current vaccines and the complexities of the SARS-CoV-2 variants. Afterward, have your questions ready for the live Q&A portion of the event and hear from Bob Wachter, chair of the UCSF Department of Medicine, as well as the expert panelists.

Bob Wachter, MD
Holly Smith Distinguished Professor of Science and Medicine­
Lynne and Marc Benioff Professor of Hospital Medicine­
Chair and Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine

April 7, 2021


Medical Director, Ward 86 HIV Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG)
Director, UCSF-Gladstone Institutes Center for AIDS Research
Professor and Associate Chief for Clinical Operations and Education, UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at ZSFG

Dr. Dr. Gandhi's research program focuses on identifying low-cost solutions for measuring antiretroviral levels in resource-poor settings, such as determining drug levels in hair and urine samples. She also works on pre-exposure prophylaxis and treatment strategies for HIV infection in women. Additionally, Dr. Gandhi is dedicated to HIV education and mentorship. Recent efforts have been focused on COVID-19 mitigation strategies and education on the COVID-19 vaccines.


Associate Medical Director, UCSF Health Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Prevention
Assistant Professor of Medicine, UCSF Division of Infectious Diseases

Dr. Langelier’s research bridges basic science and clinical medicine through patient-oriented studies using advanced genomic sequencing technologies . His lab develops new infectious disease diagnostics, studies respiratory disease biology, performs surveillance of emerging pathogens, and tracks infectious disease outbreaks both locally and globally. A primary focus at present is understanding the biology of infectious and inflammatory lung diseases – with a particular emphasis on COVID-19- by elucidating host immune, microbiome, and environmental factors that influence infection susceptibility, severity, and outcomes. Dr. Langelier serves on the Executive Committee of the COMET (COVID Multiphenotyping for Effective Therapies) study – a collaborative longitudinal COVID-19 cohort study at UCSF.


Health Justice, Right Now

Health justice can be dramatically improved, right here, right now. UCSF experts are playing a pivotal role in our communities to better understand the challenges and meet that goal. Why is COVID-19 disproportionately devastating the Navajo Nation? Can a physician’s evaluation prevent an immigrant from being deported? What can we do to prevent the spread of pandemics through California’s prison system? At UCSF Insights: Health Justice, Right Now, clinicians and researchers will share practical solutions – and often, surprising answers – to these questions and others. Join us in understanding the complexities of these issues, and learn how we all can help change the tide.

August 17, 2020


Co-Chair, UCSF Health and Human Rights Initiative
Professor, Family and Community Medicine

Dr. Kivlahan’s Health and Human Rights Initiative partners with local law firms, community groups, and peer institutions to provide life-altering services to asylum applicants. Her work in asylum medicine has put her on the front line of the immigrant conversation in California, around the United States, and internationally. She has trained physicians from around the world in the forensic evaluation of torture, working in partnership with these physicians to create curricula on human rights law, injury identification, and international documentation standards. The HHRI has helped individuals and families find safe passage to the United States from war-torn and strife-ridden nations.

Associate Professor, UCSF School of Medicine
Co-Founder and Faculty Director, UCSF Health, Equity, Action, and Leadership (HEAL) Initiative 

UCSF’s HEAL Initiative is a health workforce-strengthening fellowship working in the Navajo Nation and nine developing countries around the world. Dr. Shamasunder has led HEAL’s response in the Navajo Nation during the ongoing COVID-19 surge. This effort has involved spending several weeks with HEAL's partner-site hospital taking care of COVID-19 patients and supporting UCSF nursing and physician volunteers. HEAL recruited more than 40 UCSF nurses and doctors to join over 50 Indiginous and non-native HEAL fellows already in New Mexico caring for the devastated Navajo Nation community. Throughout the last decade, Dr. Shamasunder has spent several months every year in underserved settings around the world, including South Los Angeles, rural Liberia, Haiti, Burundi, and rural India.

Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco
Director, Amend: Changing Correctional Culture

Dr. Williams collaborates with colleagues from disciplines including criminal justice, public safety, and the law to conduct impact-oriented research and education to improve the health inmates and workers in US correctional facilities. The Amend program integrates principles of normality, dignity, and human rights into US prisons and jails. Dr. Williams has called for improved responses to disability, cognitive impairment, and environmental mismatch among older or seriously ill prisoners; a more scientific development of compassionate-release policies; and a broader inclusion of incarcerated patients into national health data sets and in clinical research. She has consulted for correctional facilities and legal organizations nationwide, including the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the National American Civil Liberties Union.


The Future of Medicine

Today, we may look to the future and see deep uncertainty, with escalating climate change, looming antibiotic resistance, and the intractability of complex diseases like cancer. However, at UCSF, we face such challenges head-on and pioneer novel approaches to solving monumental problems. Hear from the visionaries who are working to mitigate the health effects of climate change, using nanotechnology to make cancer treatments more precise, and designing new drugs to stop the spread of superbugs.

February 27, 2020


Assistant Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, UCSF School of Medicine

Dr. Anwar is a member of the Bioengineering Core, and a member of UCSF’s Health Innovations via Engineering (HIVE) program. His primary goal is to identify where gaps in diagnostic information and therapeutic tools compromise patient care, develop solutions for these problems, and enable precise, personalized cancer treatment. To accomplish this, Dr. Anwar’s UCSF lab develops ultra-miniaturized sensors that can be placed within the body to provide heretofore unattainable information faster and more accurately than can conventional clinical tests. His expertise in electrical engineering focuses on using integrated circuits – computer chip technology – to develop micro- and nano-scale sensors for cancer detection and imaging. In parallel, he maintains a clinical practice in radiation oncology in which he specializes in radiosurgery for pancreatic cancer and other hard-to-treat cancers.

Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, UCSF School of Pharmacy

Dr. Fraser’s long-term research goals include finding new ways to combat antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.” Dr. Fraser’s lab uses electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography to determine the atomic structures of protein and RNA molecules that the bacteria need to survive and to improve small molecules drugs that can inactivate them. Combining these insights with experiments that mimic the evolutionary forces faced in treatment settings will help us understand how to treat this global pandemic, which causes prolonged illness and otherwise preventable disability and death.

Professor of Medicine, UCSF School of Medicine Internist, Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital

Dr. Weiser is an international expert on the ways food insecurity contributes to poor health in patients with HIV and other chronic diseases; she also specializes in designing food security and livelihood interventions that improve health. Dr. Weiser currently works to incorporate climate-change education into UCSF’s mission so students learn about how it will impact the care they will provide. She documents negative health impacts of climate change based on information in publicly available databases, she works on intervention studies that help individuals mitigate or adapt to climate change, and she advocates for the investment of more money into researching how we will need to adapt care and interventions based on her findings.


Our Aging Decoded

Aspects of biological aging can be reversed. UCSF scientists have, in fact, already proven this to be true, but some key questions remain unanswered. Can we make cells from an older adult young again? Why does aging lead to organ failure? Does oxygen deprivation really reverse physiological hallmarks of aging? Our researchers have provided insight into each of these questions, often with surprising results. Join us as we explore the newest breakthroughs in the biology of aging – and look to the future.


Sandler Faculty Fellow and Principal Investigator, UCSF Department of Physiology, School of Medicine

Associate Professor in Residence, UCSF Department of Neurology, School of Medicine
Clinical Staff, UCSF Memory and Aging Center

Associate Professor, UCSF Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, School of Dentistry


Partnering to Achieve Health Equity: Radically Rethinking Care

UCSF challenges the status quo. We ensure that our scientific breakthroughs and clinical innovations reach everyone, with a keen focus on the vulnerable among us. Join us to learn about designing new approaches for treating stroke victims, debunking previous notions about how best to treat children with asthma, flipping the paradigm from treatment to prevention with a focus on food as medicine, and even eliminating HIV transmissions here in San Francisco. 


Professor of Pediatrics, Epidemiology and Biostatistics Director and Chief, Division of General Pediatrics, UCSF

Professor, UCSF Department of Medicine 
Chief, UCSF Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital 

Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF Department of Emergency Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital 

Associate Professor, UCSF Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics 
Founder, EatSF


Leveraging Discovery to Revolutionize Care: Harnessing Technology for Better Health

Advanced technology is allowing UCSF scientists to tighten the loop from discoveries made at the laboratory bench to the patient’s bedside. Join us to experience firsthand how our clinician- researchers use computational approaches to improve women’s gynecological health outcomes, wield fMRI imaging to broaden our understanding of musical creativity, and harness implantable devices to improve pain management.


Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences
Comprehensive Fibroid Center

Professor and Director, Neuromodulation Service,
Division of Pain Medicine
Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care

Chief, Division of Otology, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery
Frances A. Sooy Professor, Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery


Decoding Life to Improve Health: Microbiome, Macro-impact

The microbial colonies that cover our bodies inside and out exist in an interactive and harmonious community that we depend on for our well-being. Join UCSF scientists who are discovering how imbalances among these bacteria, fungi, and viruses can cause disease, and how maintaining a balance may be a key to good health.


Roger Boles, MD, Endowed Professor, Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery,
Director, Division of Rhinology and Sinus Surgery

Professor, Division of Gastroenterology,
Director, Colitis and Crohn's Disease Microbiome Research Core

Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

For More Info

Jessica Chin