UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center/San Francisco Medical Center

“Best Hospitals” national cancer-care rank: 7

“Best Hospitals” cancer-care score: 71.6/100

Founded: 1948

Beds: 660

Clinicians/researchers: 370





Research focus: 

Cellular processes and underlying molecular and genetic causes of cancer.


Clinic at-a-glance:

A primary mission of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is to combine basic science and clinical research with patient care in order to improve cancer outcomes and trailblaze in the field of cancer prevention. Care is delivered at four UCSF-affiliated San Francisco medical centers (UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus, San Francisco General Hospital, and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center). Regardless of where the care is delivered it is uniformly of a very high quality. The center has pulled together a psycho-onology team that works with other supportive care programs (such as the institution’s Cancer Resource Center, Spiritual Care Services and the Symptom Management Service) to identify and address the challenges of adjusting to cancer — everything from coping with the illness and the pain it causes to the handling of the many stresses of treatment and meeting the countless emotional needs. The center’s researchers include Nobel Prize-winning scientists J. Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus (who discovered cancer-causing oncogenes and paved the way for wider discoveries concerning the role of genetic abnormalities in triggering cancer). They all strive to better understand cellular processes and the underlying molecular and genetic causes of cancer, especially defects in cell cycle control, involvement of immunologic mechanisms, and global changes in gene copy number and chromosome arrangement. Researchers often participate in clinical trials by national cooperative groups, but more frequently design and conduct their own trials of new pharmaceutical agents and gene therapies, as well as improvements on existing drug regimens and radiotherapeutic treatments.