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Global Analysis Ranks UCSF Cancer Research Among the World's Most Impactful

Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center's discoveries some of the most utilized to advance global cancer research and patent new drugs and diagnostics, independent review found

The 2016 analysis, Cancer Research – Current Trends & Future Directions, conducted by Elsevier Publishing found UCSF Cancer Center's discoveries are some of the most utilized to advance global cancer research and patent new drugs and diagnostics. To determine the world's top cancer research institutions, Elsevier considered:

  • The volume of publications produced by individual institutions
  • How often publications were viewed online
  • How often publications were cited in research by other scientists as foundational
  • How often research was cited in patent applications as relevant to new discoveries
  • How often an institute's publications were published in the top 1 percent of scientific journals.

In each of these categories, UCSF ranked among the top four or five.

Medical research continually evolves, with scientists building upon previous discoveries. When scientists documenting their work cite a previous discovery, it indicates that past work is foundational. Therefore, the volume of citations an institution may receive and the views an article may receive are valid measures of the impact and reach of that work, according to the Elsevier analysis. The analysis found that the U.S. produced the largest research output globally, with more publications per annum than Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy combined.

Excellence in Basic Research, Collaboration, Translation

UCSF, like almost all of the other U.S.-based top performers, is designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), representing the top 4 percent of the nation's 1,500 cancer centers. UCSF is the only top performer in the analysis representing the West Coast, home to two of the world's largest biomedical research hubs, venerated universities and several respected NCI-designated cancer centers. It is also the only public institution ranked in the top five in all categories.

From patent filings for new cancer therapies to articles and book chapters on the latest advances in understanding, diagnosing and treating cancer, The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is consistently among the world's top five institutions producing the most impactful and utilized research.

"One of the things driving our numbers is the real excellence of basic research at UCSF across the board," said Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, president of the cancer center. Unlike top performers Dana Farber and Memorial Sloan Kettering, which focus solely on cancer, UCSF Medical Center's research and patient care is more diffuse. Its expertise covers virtually all conditions and treatments, from common to extremely rare.

The health sciences are UCSF's only areas of professional and graduate study. This is different than other high-profile, highly respected universities in the Bay Area, which offer multiple degree programs," Ashworth said.

"Our cancer portfolio is broad, and our 450 principal investigators range in expertise from basic research to clinical investigation, which drives our leadership. UCSF's collaborative culture and its location in one of the world's largest hubs of biomedical innovation further strengthen its research, Ashworth said. For the past six years, UCSF has been the top public recipient of biomedical research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"There's something about the Bay Area and its entrepreneurial culture, fueled by Silicon Valley and now home to small biotechnology companies and Big Pharma, that fosters people getting together over breakfast and lunch to share ideas, collaborate and cooperate to foster innovation," he said. "That is a part of our culture we nurture."