History of the Academy

Throughout the 1990s, the School of Medicine at UCSF faced challenges that adversely impacted medical student education. By the late '90s, clinician-educators found themselves expected to generate their total income through their clinical efforts while volunteering to teach medical students and house officers, time permitting.

four photos of faculty

The Academy Timeline

  • 1997: David Irby, PhD, newly recruited vice-dean for Education, was expressly charged with reinvigorating the undergraduate medical curriculum at UCSF. Dean Irby appointed two committees to generate contrasting visions for a new UCSF curriculum. One committee was charged to design a curriculum for the 21st century, building on current strengths and addressing areas of weakness. The second committee, chaired by Daniel Lowenstein, MD, came to be known as "Blue Skies". Charged with re-envisioning medical education at UCSF, one of Blue Skies' creative recommendations was the establishment of a cadre of dedicated teachers and outstanding medical educators, at least some of whom would receive salary support for their teaching. Through the efforts of this corps, the Academy of Medical Educators, junior teachers would be inspired and supported and a program of medical education befitting the 21st century would be brought into being.
  • March 1999: Then-dean Haile Debas announced that he would provide support for the Academy of Medical Educators through its formative stages. In addition, the Dean committed funds to establish a matched endowed chair program for outstanding teachers and educators, jointly funded by the Dean's office and the host department. In July 2007, the School of Medicine committed additional funding to support the Academy through 2017.
  • August 2000: Molly Cooke, MD was appointed the Academy's first director. In the summer of 2001, the first group of Academy members was selected through a rigorous process. The newly chosen members were inducted in September 2001. A new "class" of members has been inducted in each succeeding September. Molly Cooke served as director until 2012.
  • In 2002, with the generous support of faculty members, the Academy was named in honor of Haile T. Debas, who was, and still is, a strong supporter of the Academy and of medical student education.
  • 2005-2011: Harry Hollander, MD, served as associate director.
  • 2012: Helen Loeser, MD, MSc, succeeded Dr. Cooke, with an Academy of 127 members, serving until June 2016.
  • 2016: Ann Poncelet, MD, was named the new director and also holds the Academy's William G. Irwin Endowed Chair.