Remarkable Women of UC San Francisco

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Celebrating 48 Faculty, Staff, and Alumnae

Sarah Gomez Erlach, RN

Gomez Erlach was a UCSF School of Nursing alumna who developed public health services for migrant farm workers in California. Her advocacy led to the development of primary care in the state, with a focus on community participation. During World War II, she helped establish medical-nursing care services for nine reserve hospitals and was later Chief Nurse of two army hospitals in Oakland and the Presidio.

Virginia Olesen, PhD

Oleson's groundbreaking research on the importance of gender-based health care was instrumental in shaping the field of women's health. Her sociological work focused on gender issues, nursing, and the "gig economy" decades before it became a mainstream issue.

Rita Redberg, MD, MS

Redberg, a cardiologist, studies the regulatory process for medical devices and is Editor-in-Chief of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Gail Martin, PhD

Martin was one of the co-discoverers of embryonic stem cells in mice (for which she coined the term "embryonic stem cells"). Her research laid the groundwork for worldwide research on human embryonic stem cells to treat disease.

Lucile Petry Leone, RN, FAPHA

A School of Nursing Professor Emerita who was the Founding Director of the Cadet Nurse Corps, Leone's organization supported the U.S. Armed Forces in World War II. She was also the first woman — and the first nurse — to serve as the U.S. Assistant Surgeon General.

Cynthia Kenyon, PhD

An authority on the science of aging, molecular biologist Kenyon's research into longevity discovered genes that doubled the lifespan of the roundworm C. elegans. She is now the Director of the Hillblom Center for the Biology of Aging at UCSF.

Nancy Ascher, MD, PhD

The first woman to perform a liver transplant, Ascher established the liver-transplantation program at UCSF and was the first woman to chair the Department of Surgery. An author of many scientific papers, she served on Presidential and Surgeon General task forces for organ transplantation and donation and was named one of America's Top Doctors by U.S. News.

Priscilla Chan, MD

Chan is a pediatrician who earned her medical degree at UCSF, and an entrepreneur focused on children's issues. With her husband Mark Zuckerberg, she co-founded the $1 billion Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, which supports science research and education.

Maria Angelina Burch, DDS

The first female graduate of the College of Dentistry (later the UCSF School of Dentistry), Burch established her own private practice in San Francisco in 1884.

Shirley Chater, PhD, RN, FAAN

A former UCSF Professor and Vice Chancellor, Chater was named a "Living Legend" by the American Academy of Nursing for her contributions to the field. She also served as Commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration during the Clinton Administration.

Jennifer Puck, MD

An authority in the field of immunology, Puck 's research into human immune disorders led to the development of a newborn screening test for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). She directs the UCSF Jeffrey Modell Diagnostic Center for Primary Immunodeficiencies.

Dorothy Ford Bainton, MD

Bainton was the first woman to chair a department in the UCSF School of Medicine's Department of Pathology, and later became the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs. Her research focused on the development and function of white blood cells in defense against infection.

Ella Mae Ferneil, RN

Working against discriminatory hiring practices, Ferneil moved to the Bay Area after World War II and became the first African American registered nurse, public health nurse, visiting nurse, and school nurse in the state of California.

Dorothy Horstmann, MD

Horstmann earned her medical degree from UCSF in 1940. She went on to become the first woman appointed as a professor at the Yale School of Medicine. Her research on the spread of poliovirus in the bloodstream helped in the development of the polio vaccine.

Tippi MacKenzie, MD

MacKenzie's research focuses on treating fetal conditions before birth. She led the world’s first clinical trial using blood stem cells transplanted prior to birth, leading to the successful live birth of an infant with a normally fatal condition called alpha thalassemia.

Kathy Giacomini, PhD

Giacomini's research into membrane transporters has had profound implications for drug delivery and response. One of her team's goals is improving drug design for patients who do not respond to standard treatments.

Mary Botsford, MD

A pioneer in the use of anesthesia, Botsford in 1897 became the first physician on the West Coast known to practice its use. Her career included many such firsts, including championing the law that required anesthesia be taught in medical schools. In 1932, she became the first faculty member and Clinical Professor of Anesthesia at UC.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD

An expert in the study of telomeres — the part of chromosomes essential to preserving genetic information — Blackburn won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work. At UCSF, she has served as Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. In 2007 she was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People.

Ulrike Muench, RN, PhD, FAAN

A School of Nursing faculty member who was the first to publish a study illuminating the pay gap between male and female RNs.

Nancy Milliken, MD

Milliken, an expert on reproductive health, is Founding Director of the National Center of Excellence on Women's Health.

Laura Esserman, MD, MBA

Esserman's breast cancer research, she says, "spans the spectrum from public-policy issues to basic science and the impact of both on the delivery of clinical care." The Director of the Breast Care Center and the Clinical Leader of the NCI-designated Breast Oncology Program, she was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2016.

Florence Stroud, RN

Stroud was the first African American to serve as Health Director for Berkeley. A former UCSF professor, she authored guidelines concerning the prevention of prenatal transmission of HIV and the care of mothers and children infected with AIDS.

Christine Miaskowski, RN, PhD, FAAN

An expert on chronic pain as a condition rather than just a symptom, Miaskowski helped develop improved pain-management strategies. She was also the first nurse scientist to be named an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor.

Margretta Madden Styles, RN, EdD, FAAN

Styles conceived and helped establish the national standards for certifying and credentialing nurses in pediatrics, cardiology, and other specialties. She held numerous leadership positions as well, including Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing, past President of the American Nurses Association, and the first American to serve as President of the International Council of Nurses.