University of California San Francisco

Winter 2020

Cover of UCSF Magazine: in to left corner reads “UCSF Magazine, Winter 2020”; bottom left corner reads “Special Issue, The Future”; illustration on cover: collage of a gloved hand with part robot hand, cells, needle, equations, and futuristic looking parts.

Special Issue: The Future. UCSF Magazine peers into the future of health and medicine.

About this Issue:

Vol. 8, No. 2
Editorial Team

Download PDF


What Will Health Look Like in 2050?

No one can see the future, but that won’t stop us from trying. We asked UCSF faculty and alumni to score these predictions for likelihood and impact.

Matrix of survey results on a graph.

Health Care is Going Green

The health care sector accounts for as much as 10% of the U.S. carbon footprint and 5% globally, according to recent studies. This sobering statistic has an upside: It means that changes in the industry can play a major role in addressing the climate crisis.

Photo of the earth in red to illustrate climate change

How Scientists Might Tame Cancer

Basic scientist Zena Werb, who has studied cancer cells in UCSF labs for more than four decades, shares her take on the future of cancer medicine.

Illustration of floating circles with marbled colors inside, with a gradation from bright pink to light blue, to represent cancer cells.

Aging Is Not Optional. Or Is It?

With the global population of seniors projected to reach 1.5 billion by 2050, it will be more important than ever to reduce the burden of age-related disease. In the future, science will allow us to intervene in the aging process to make this a reality, according to geriatrician John Newman.

Illustration of a red, autumnal leaf, with a green pencil coloring over the leaf and turning it green.

Can Technology Mend Our Broken Minds

Scientists have documented the influence of information overload on attention, perception, memory, decision-making, and emotional regulation. But the same technologies contributing to the cognition crisis could help solve it, argues neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley.

Illustration of a pill bottle with smartphone app symbols in it, and a smartphone with pills on the screen.

AI Will Give Your Doctor Superpowers

Artificial intelligence manages our phones and homes, helps us navigate, and advises us what to watch, read, listen to, and buy. Soon it will transform our health, says trauma surgeon and data-science expert Rachel Callcut.

Illustration of the back of a female doctor, who is facing a wall of screen images with charts, graphs, speech bubbles and files, floating in space.

The End of Infertility Is in Sight

Advances in medicine and public health have dramatically extended the lifespan of hearts, lungs, and other vital organs. But for women, the ovaries remain a stubborn exception. That may soon change, says fertility expert Marcelle Cedars.

Illustration of eggs in a basket made of double helix dna strands.

Insights & Voices

  • Should You Take a Direct-to-Consumer DNA Test?

    With the rise of “direct-to-consumer” DNA tests, investigating your genes is easier than ever. But taking one of these tests may not be right for you, says UCSF professor Kathryn Phillips, PhD, who studies new health care technologies.

    Illustration of person in lab coat at a microscope. The microscope has images popping out of it: blood cells, double helix, molecules, and a group of diverse people.
  • Radical Investment in San Francisco’s Future

    UCSF sociologist Howard Pinderhughes, PhD, says insufficient housing, economic opportunity, and educational inequity stand in the way of a healthy San Francisco. Nevertheless, he believes there is room for optimism and the possibility for change.

    Portrait of Howard Pinderhughes with blue skies, trees, and foliage in the background.
  • The Case of the Elusive Infection

    For 15 years, nobody could figure out what was making a young woman so sick. Then neurologist Michael Wilson, MD, tried a radical new test.

    Male doctor in lab coat looking at organisms and dna through a magnifying glass; woman sweating and looking distressed.