More than one million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year – and nearly one in four dies from the disease. At UCSF, these sobering facts are only part of an evolving story: advances in our understanding of cancer are providing new and personalized therapies that stave off the disease, improve quality of life and offer hope for our patients. Your gift to the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center makes it possible for our talented experts to conduct the studies that will lead to new and improved treatments and therapies.


Cancer at UCSF

At the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, we treat and investigate all forms of cancer. As we research each distinct type of cancer, we seek ways to tailor treatment to every individual. With your support we are revolutionizing the delivery of cancer care.

The center consolidates the work of clinicians and researchers who are dedicated to four fundamental pursuits:

  • Sensitive, leading-edge patient care
  • Laboratory research into the causes and events of cancer's progression
  • Clinical research to translate new knowledge into viable treatments
  • Population research that can lead to prevention, early detection, and quality-of-life improvement for those living with cancer

UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building

Generous philanthropic support made it possible for us to build this state-of-the-art facility, where UCSF researchers are altering the course of cancer by making discoveries that translate into new treatments and cures. Opened on the 57-acre Mission Bay biomedical campus in June 2009, the building houses scientists investigating:

  • Cancer's basic biological mechanisms
  • Brain tumors
  • Cancer population sciences
  • Computational biology
  • Pediatric oncology
  • Urologic oncology

Uniting these researchers in one place for the first time is fueling unprecedented productivity. The proximity of talented scientists studying the disease from many perspectives is fostering a rich cross-pollination of ideas that will lead to new techniques to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

Cancer Hospital

On February 1, 2015 the 170-bed UCSF Bakar Cancer Hospital opened at Mission Bay in San Francisco. The hospital represents the culmination of the science and expertise that has made our cancer program second to none.

Located steps away from the world-class UCSF Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building , the new hospital brings top researchers and clinicians side by side, helping foster new treatments and speeding their delivery to patients.

Like the rest of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, the cancer hospital sets new standards for cutting-edge care in a setting that fully supports both patients and their families. From the private rooms with abundant natural light, sweeping views and comfortable accommodations for visiting loved ones, to the tranquil gardens and meditation spaces, our new hospital was designed to ease stress and promote healing.


  • Home of the Nobel Prize-winning work of J. Michael Bishop, MD, and Harold Varmus, MD, who discovered cancer-causing oncogenes; their work opened new doors for exploring genetic mistakes that cause cancer, and formed the basis for some of the most important cancer research happening today
  • Discovered the molecular nature of telomeres—parts of chromosomes that critically affect the life span of cells—and the enzyme telomerase that regulates them. Telomeres and telomerase play key roles in cell aging and cancer. Telomerase is now a therapeutic target for cancer and other diseases. Groundbreaking work on telomeres and telomerase led to a 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for then UCSF investigator Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD
  • Received the prestigious designation of "comprehensive" for the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center from the National Cancer Institute (NCI)
  • Ranked seventh among the nation's hospitals for cancer care and first among California cancer-care providers by U.S. News & World Report
  • Ranked first in California and sixth nationwide in NCI research grants

"Our investigators' laboratory research extends across the university’s five principal campuses and beyond. The work of these bench scientists is closely allied with that of physicians on the front lines of patient care. This synergy and collaboration is what is meant by "translational research": While basic scientists investigate cancer's fundamental causes, clinical researchers explore ways that this knowledge can be applied, giving patients access to the latest experimental treatments."
Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS
President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
Senior Vice President for Cancer Services, UCSF Health

For more information on supporting cancer at UCSF, please contact Kathleen Jose at or 415/476-5863.