At UC San Francisco, we are driven by the idea that when the best research, the best teaching and the best patient care converge, we can deliver breakthroughs that help heal the world.
Excellence is in our DNA. From heart disease and immunology to specialty services for women and children, UCSF brings together the world’s leading experts in nearly every area of health. We are home to five Nobel laureates who have advanced the understanding of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, HIV/AIDS, aging and stem cell research. UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, all four of our professional schools — dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy — and many UCSF graduate programs consistently rank among the best in the country, according to the latest surveys by U.S. News & World Report.
Our top rankings reflect our singular focus on advancing health care. We are the leading institution dedicated exclusively to the health sciences.
UCSF is a collection of dedicated scientists, clinicians, students and staff who share a common drive to make the world a better place by advancing health and the human condition. Care and compassion are as critical as science and discovery in fulfilling our mission to drive change, and make a difference for individual patients and whole populations.
In a field where lives often hang in a delicate balance, UCSF recognizes that time is of the essence – for patients in the hospital and for populations facing an epidemic. We harness the efficiency of multidisciplinary teams to accelerate learning and scientific progress and speed the development of new therapies and cures. We are constantly pushing forward the policies and partnerships that ensure that people in need are getting access to the most cutting-edge care and treatment.
UCSF is also San Francisco’s second-largest employer — attracting talented faculty and staff who mirror the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area. The most exciting part of being at UCSF is its diverse community of people who individually contribute to changing the status quo with their diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Our ability to recruit top talent leads to a constant influx of new ideas and approaches across each of our missions: research, patient care and education.
One of the world’s leading health sciences universities, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), dates its founding to 1864, when South Carolina surgeon Hugh Toland founded a private medical school in San Francisco.
Toland had come west in 1849 to seek his fortune in the California Gold Rush, but after a few discouraging months as a miner, he set up a surgical practice in booming San Francisco. As his wealth and influence grew, he purchased land in North Beach and opened Toland Medical College.
The college prospered, and Toland sought to affiliate with the University of California, which had opened its campus in Berkeley in 1868. UC President Daniel Coit Gilman, who strongly supported science education, set a precedent for the young university by affiliating in 1873 with both Toland Medical College and the California College of Pharmacy. Eight years later, the UC Regents added a dental college.
The three Affiliated Colleges — also called UC departments — were located at various sites in San Francisco, and after several years there was strong interest in bringing them together. San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro donated 13 acres on a site overlooking Golden Gate Park — known today as Parnassus Heights — and the new Affiliated Colleges buildings opened in fall 1898.
Establishing an Academic Medical Center
When the great San Francisco earthquake destroyed much of San Francisco and the city’s medical facilities in April 1906, more than 40,000 people took shelter and sought treatment in a tent city in Golden Gate Park, where makeshift outdoor hospitals were set up. The Affiliated Colleges, located on the hill above the encampment in what was then the far western section of the city, suddenly were situated close to a significant population. Faculty sprung into action treating those injured from the earthquake and subsequent fire.
Previous interest in establishing a UC teaching hospital on the Parnassus site took on momentum as a civic responsibility to provide care in an area where it was needed. This type of commitment to community service had been put in motion through an 1873 agreement struck by leaders of the Affiliated Colleges with the city to provide patient care at its public health hospital (later named San Francisco General Hospital).
One of the Affiliated Colleges buildings at Parnassus Heights was renovated as a facility for inpatients, outpatients and dental services, and opened in April 1907 with 75 beds.
With this new facility came the need to recruit nurses and the opportunity to train nursing students. In 1907, the UC Training School for Nurses was established, adding a fourth professional school to the Affiliated Colleges. To make room for expanded clinical services and instruction on Parnassus, the medical college basic science departments — pathology, anatomy and physiology — moved to the Berkeley campus.