Department of Surgery »  About Us

Message from the Chair

The Department of Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco is one of the largest clinical services at UCSF.  Responsible for approximately half of all cases in the operating rooms of UCSF Parnassus and UCSF Mount Zion, the Department plays a key role in medical center activity.  Additionally, the Department has a major commitment to creative activity in bench research, clinical training, education, research and global health, ranking it in the top tier of NIH research funding among comparable academic surgery programs nationwide. 

Our Mission

The Department's overarching mission is threefold:

  1. To develop the next generation of leaders in surgery
  2. To provide outstanding patient care that is cost-effective, yet compassionate, and
  3. To make significant advances in scientific knowledge and clinical practice through basic and clinical research.

Surgical Excellence

UCSF Medical Center earned “high performance” ratings – the highest ratings possible – in eight common conditions and procedures within specialties in the U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Survey for 2017-2018, seven relate to patient care within the UCSF Department of Surgery:

U.S. News evaluated more than 4,500 hospitals to determine how well they performed using data on patient survival, nurse staffing, volume and more. 

Department Structure

Organizationally, the Department of Surgery is comprised of seven divisions: adult cardiothoracic surgery, general surgery/ trauma, pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, pediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, transplant surgery and vascular surgery.  Our surgeons provide services to patients at four major San Francisco hospitals: UCSF Medical Center at Parnassus, UCSF Medical Center at Mt. Zion, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and San Francisco VA Medical Center. Our surgeons also provide care at Alameda County Medical Center in Oakland and our residents rotate through Kaiser Permanente, San Francisco Medical Center and California Pacific Medical Center.


The UCSF Department of Surgery is comprised of approximately full-time clinical faculty, volunteer clinical faculty, research faculty, and faculty emeritus. As a group they are preeminent, nationally and internationally, with many serving as officers of major surgical societies, specialty boards and NIH study sections.  Faculty development is a high priority for the Department.  Faculty are recruited based on clinical strengths, research potential, teaching interest and aptitude. Basic and clinical research is fundamental to our mission. NIH funding of departmental research has increased  for most of the past decade garnering the second highest level of NIH funding among all departments of surgery nationwide. Funding from extramural sources (federal, industry, foundations, and gifts) has grown steadily.

Clinical Services

Our clinical services integrate both innovative research and state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care:
The Division of Pediatric Surgery, the birthplace of fetal surgery, is an acknowledged leader in minimally invasive surgery for the pediatric population.

  • Faculty in our Pediatric Cardiothoracic division perform intricate and demanding procedures such as repair of complex heart defects.
  • The Divisions of Adult Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery offer multidisciplinary care to patients with complex cardiovascular problems, and are leaders  in the development of minimally invasive surgical interventions, multi-branch endovascular surgery, and re-operative arterial surgery.  Thoracic surgery faculty, with clinical practices at the Helen Diller Family UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center, treat patients for lung cancer, mesothelioma, and esophageal cancer.
  • UCSF has a rapidly growing Heart and Lung Transplant  service that has been instrumental in advancing the science in this area.
  •  UCSF Plastic and Reconstructive surgeons are recognized for treatment of complex wounds and craniofacial anomalies.
  • Surgeons in the Division of General Surgery have been in the forefront in developing advanced laparoscopic procedures. Faculty in the division have extensive experience in foregut and bariatric surgery.
  • Our Endocrine Surgery service draws patients from throughout California for treatment for persistent and recurrent  thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal tumors.
  • Breast Care,  and  Plastic and Reconstructive surgeons at the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center lead a nationally recognized program.
  • The Section of Colorectal Surgery is studying the use of adjunctive therapy for rectal cancer.
  • The Transplant Division is a world leader in clinical transplantation and has developed innovative techniques while producing superior outcomes.  The division has performed the most kidney transplants of any program in the world. Its live donor-liver transplant program is among the nation's busiest.  The Division also performs islet and small bowel transplantation.
  • The Trauma Surgery Service at Zuckerberg San Francisco General, a level-one trauma hospital, is world-renowned.
  • The Global Health Program, led by Dr. Haile Debas, a former Chair of the Department of Surgery, has reemphasized the role of the surgeon in global health initiatives.
  • Strong Commitment to Research


The UCSF Department of Surgery ranked No. 3 in NIH funding for 2017 among all departments of surgery nationwide. The Department excels in all areas of research. Its broad portfolio of basic science and clinical outcomes research includes fetal surgery, transplantation immunology, tissue engineering, immunogenetics, vascular biology, trauma prevention, wound healing, genomics, cancer biology, and neurobiology of digestive diseases. The Department also has a strong presence in  translational research,  an area that promises to move advances from the lab to the patient bedside.

I invite you to explore our website and experience the depth and scope of our surgical specialties and our commitment to excellence.

John P. Roberts - 144John P. Roberts, M.D.
Professor of Surgery
Interim Chair, Department of Surgery
University of California, San Francisco

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