Celebrating 150 Years of UCSF & UCSF's Role in Changing Radiology

Together, we achieved much, but the most important accomplishment was that so many of the people that trained here carried their acquired knowledge and the UCSF culture throughout our country and the world

Dr. Alexander Margulis, MD, Former Associate Chancellor and Chairman of Radiology at UCSF

This year marks UC San Francisco's 150-year anniversary since its founding, beginning as a medical college in 1864. From the Gold Rush, to the birth of biotech and the ongoing renaissance at Mission Bay, UCSF and the city have grown and prospered together. Now the leading university exclusively focused on health, UCSF's reach extends across the San Francisco Bay and around the world where scientists, scholars and healers are leading revolutions in health.

Since its inception, the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging has grown leaps and bounds, establishing itself as a forefront research and teaching center for radiology. In 1912, a dedicated X-ray facility at UC hospital was just the beginning. 1912 also marked the first entry of radiology into the medical school curriculum.  This dedicated X-ray facility would come to be the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

A number of notable and historic accomplishments have come from the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, many of which have played a major role in transforming radiology into its modern form.

  • Dr. Alexander Margulis chose the improvement of imaging technology for the department’s major research efforts. Specifically, this meant CT in the 1970s and MRI a decade later. The department was able to attract GE to use UCSF as a major test site for new imaging equipment and developed the department’s own CT and MRI efforts with support from a variety of sources, mostly nongovernmental.
  • By the early 1980s, a prototype MR magnet had been developed by UCSF’s Dr. Leon Kaufman, and was installed in the department for clinical testing, making UCSF a key institution engaged in the early development of MRI. Dr. Kaufman also devised new techniques to shorten MRI time from hours to much less than one hour, making the technique user-friendly and thus clinical.
  • UCSF was responsible for changing the name from NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with help from the American College of Radiology. In addition, UCSF’s Dr. Alexander Margulis, as incoming president of the Association of University of Radiologists, gave the name “Interventional Radiology” to a newly developing branch of radiology.
  • World academic radiology leaders and industrial imaging leaders began to meet at UCSF every 3 – 4 years, starting in the late 1970s, eventually resulting in the formation of the International Society for Strategic Studies in Radiology (IS3R) in 1994. Its purpose was to positively influence world health by facilitating the appropriate use of medical imaging and, as explained by Dr. Margulis, to address “the problems imposed on radiology, medicine in general, the medical schools, the leading hospitals and society as a whole, by the explosive advances in [radiological] technology.”
  • Dr. Roy Filly became a co-founder of the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center, offering the first fetal surgery in the world. Done entirely under a real-time cross-sectional view provided by the sonogram, fetal surgery has been a life-changing advance for many children. UCSF’s Fetal Treatment Center has been known worldwide since 1981 as the “Birthplace of Fetal Surgery.”
  • In the late 1990s, Dr. Bruce Hasegawa directed the development of the first combined CT/SPECT imaging device. This pioneering work created the first dual-modality imaging system, initiating a revolution in the imaging equipment industry. This lead to the development of PET/CT systems and PET/MR systems.
  • The diagnostic radiology educational training program was strongly supported and grew early on to rank among the best programs in the nation. A large number of radiology department chairs and academic leaders have received their training at UCSF Radiology, including William R. Brody, MD, PhD, current president of the Salk Institute and former president of The Johns Hopkins University; William G. Bradley, Jr., MD, PhD, Dept. Chair, UC San Diego; Hedvig Hricak, MD, PhD, Dept. Chair, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; James B. Spies, MD, Dept. Chair, Georgetown University; Fergus V. Coakley, MD, Dept. Chair, Oregon Health Sciences University; Herbert Y. Kressel, MD, Editor, Radiology; and Jeffrey S. Klein, MD, Editor, Radiographics. UCSF Radiology was also the first department in the nation to establish fellowships for foreign young academic trainees that would come with their institutions’ subsidy to learn to do radiological research. Almost all of these trainees stayed in academic medicine and moved on to leadership positions world-wide, cementing the prestige of American academic radiology.

The year-long celebration of the 150th Anniversary of UCSF will run from April 2014-March 2015. It is a great time to look back on the achievements of the physicians and scientists of the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging. It is also an ideal time to celebrate the future, as the department looks ahead to continuing its leadership contributions to healthcare. High among those will be Chairman Dr. Ron Arenson’s service as the next President of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), a role he will assume in December 2014.

For more information on how the UCSF Health System will celebrate the people who are the past, present and promise of the past 150 years, please click here.