Up Close | 2021: The Year in Review

Amid a challenging second year of a pandemic, UCSF Fresno achieved new milestones and our commitment to the communities we serve is unwavering thanks to the talents, skills, dedication and energy of our faculty, learners, staff and partners. Here is a look back at the year and some of our shining moments.


The first cohort admitted to UCSF SJV PRIME in 2019 began training at UCSF Fresno in January 2021. SJV PRIME is a tailored track at the UCSF School of Medicine that aims to train students who are passionate about engaging with the community and working with underserved populations in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Eyad Almasri, MD, began his role as Assistant Dean for Research at UCSF Fresno.

Dr. Almasri, a pulmonary and critical care specialist and associate clinical professor of Internal Medicine, led and participated in numerous studies, including COVID-19 related clinical trials that enrolled their first patients in the nation. Research is integral to UCSF Fresno’s mission to improve health in Central California and in 2021, more than 50 clinical trials were at various stages at UCSF Fresno, including trials of new treatments for valley fever, heart disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children.

The Second Annual Autism Symposium for Primary Care Providers was held online on Jan. 23, 2021.

Led by foremost experts and co-hosted by the Central Valley Regional Center, this virtual program gave providers and allied health professionals the information and tools needed to initiate early diagnosis, intervention and provide community support resources for children with autism or related neurodevelopmental disorders. Nearly 130 health care professionals participated. John Moua, MD, Chief of the UCSF Fresno Department of Pediatrics, was the program director.


On Feb. 11, 2021, the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project began offering COVID-19 vaccines with a grant from County of Fresno.  

To increase awareness and improve heart health among women of all ages, UCSF Fresno hosted the Women’s Heart Fair at Home on Feb. 27, 2021. The 2020 event was canceled due to the pandemic. This year’s Women’s Heart Fair was a virtual version and represented the sixth annual community event. About 165 people took part online in the 2021 event. In addition to hearing from experts on heart health, participants heard from local experts, participated in a yoga class for all levels, watched a live cooking competition, and entered a drawing to win prizes. Teresa Daniele, MD, Chief of Cardiology at UCSF Fresno, was the program director.


UCSF Fresno filled all available residency training positions for the 15th year in a row during the 2021 Match Day on March 19, 2021. Match Day occurs every year in March and is the time when graduating medical students across the United States, including students in the San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME), received emails simultaneously that revealed where they will spend the next several years conducting the postgraduate training (residency) necessary to practice medicine in the U.S. Seven of the eight SJV PRIME students stayed in California to provide much needed medical care. Six of them matched with University of California-affiliated residencies. Three stayed at UCSF Fresno.

With support from the County of Fresno,  the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project established a mass vaccination clinic at Fresno City College March 23 through Aug. 3, 2021.


In acknowledgement of and appreciation for their volunteerism, extra effort, and contributions toward UCSF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCSF Fresno’s Kenny Banh, MD, and Andrew Field, UCSF Fresno Wellness Director, were recognized on April 12, 2021, with UCSF School of Medicine Dean’s Commendations for Exceptional Volunteerism and Community Service for their work on the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project (CEP). UCSF Fresno CEP provides free COVID-19 testing, vaccines and monoclonal antibody therapy. Dr. Banh is assistant dean for undergraduate medical education, faculty in the UCSF Fresno Department of Emergency Medicine and medical director of the UCSF Fresno CEP.

The 2021 Pulmonary Vascular Symposium was held April 16, 2021. This first-time event drew about 115 medical professionals from across the United States. An esteemed panel of experts from around the country presented as part of this virtual symposium, which was designed to increase awareness of pulmonary vascular disease and encourage the timely diagnosis, assessment of severity and appropriate intervention strategies for all health professionals. Vijay Balasubramanian, MD, medical director of pulmonary hypertension, was the program director.

René Ramirez, MD, an emergency medicine physician and Health Sciences Associate Clinical Professor, was appointed by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors to serve as county health officer from April 27, 2021, through June 30, 2022. He continues to serve as a faculty member at UCSF Fresno.


The 2021 Wilderness Medicine Conference, which usually takes place at Bass Lake each year, was held virtually for the first time in the conference’s history. About 80 people took part in the event on May 21, 2021. Attendees participated in live simulation activities including a knot tying course and emergency medicine lectures. Susanne Spano, MD, program director of the UCSF Fresno Wilderness Medicine Fellowship and Arielle Filiberti, MD, graduate of the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship, were the program directors.

Celebrating its 16th year, the Cardiology in the Valley Symposium was hosted virtually on May 8, 2021 and was attended by nearly 80 physicians and allied health providers. The 2021 program covered challenging issues in the evaluation and treatment of mitral and tricuspid valvular regurgitation and examined the diagnosis and management of syndromes related to COVID infection and myocardial injury. John Ambrose, MD, professor of Medicine, was the program director.

UCSF Fresno underscored the importance of increasing and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in education, training programs, resident and faculty recruitment and patient care. In May, Lori Weichenthal, MD, appointed Andrea Long, MD, a UCSF Fresno surgeon, to the new position of UCSF Fresno Director of Diversity.

The UCSF Fresno Skills Lab and Simulation Center expanded space and upgraded equipment in phase one of updates that began in May 2021 and took place over the summer. New equipment included installation of Gaumard Baby Tory, a high fidelity base trainer of a real baby for neonatal resuscitation program simulation scenarios. In June 2021, the Laerdal Installation of Sim Capture A/V upgrade was completed (additionally, laptops for medical students and personal computers for Standardized Patients for encounters in the Sim Capture). In August 2021, Laerdal SIMMAN Plus was installed, which is a high fidelity mannequin for simulation scenario training. 



UCSF Fresno celebrated commencement for the second year in a row with a virtual ceremony on June 10, 2021. One hundred medical residents and fellows along with four oral and maxillofacial surgery dental residents and five physician assistants completed training at UCSF Fresno in 2021 for a total of 109 graduates.  Sixty percent of residents and fellows completing training in the Department of Emergency Medicine; 47% of residents and fellows completing training in the Department of Family and Community Medicine; 50% of Internal Medicine; and 46% of residents completing training in the Department of Pediatrics stayed in the region. Forty percent of all UCSF Fresno 2021 graduates stayed in the Central Valley. Seventy-five percent of all graduates stayed in California to provide care, teach or continue their education.

Assessing the Needs of Opioid Seeking Patients was held virtually on June 18, 2021. This first-time program was created to help opioid prescribers develop a comprehensive approach to address the needs of all opioid-seeking patients. The focus of the sessions included patient-centered care, a harm-reduction approach to substance use disorders, best practices in Buprenorphine prescribing, and how to decrease physician discomfort in the management of opioid seeking patients. Liana Milanes, MD, and M. Shoaib Khan, MD, faculty in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, were the program directors.


The third cohort in the UCSF SJV PRIME started training with orientation at UCSF Fresno in July. All 12 students admitted to the SJV PRIME matriculating class of 2021 call the Valley home and were inspired to pursue medicine by health disparities and inequities they experienced or observed growing up.

On July 6, the Hildebrand Medical Library reopened after undergoing renovations in 2021 to better utilize the space and address the needs of the UCSF Fresno community. The library space has been reconfigured to integrate comfort with collaboration by adding computer stations, space for laptops, treadmill desks, a quiet pod, a modular meeting room, an Innovations Lab, a Makers Lab with a 3-D printer and scanner, a 3D virtual reality station and more.


The 2021 Virtual Mini Med School series, the 10th annual installment, was held on Consecutive Thursdays from Sept. 9 through Sept. 30, 2021. More than 450 people from across the United States, Canada, England, India, and Albania registered for this series of community lectures. About 400 people including students and adults participated. An annual favorite, Mini Med School, shares the latest trends and topics in health care and medicine with general audiences. Subjects included: multispecialty care in the emergency department – which included a live simulation from the emergency response team at Community Medical Centers, infectious diseases and endocrinology, the importance of prenatal care, and a discussion with current SJV Prime students. Sukhjit Dhillon, MD, clinical instructor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, was the program director.

The second Endocrine and Diabetes Symposium for Primary Care Providers was held virtually on Sept. 11, 2021. The UCSF Fresno Divisions of Endocrinology and Bariatric Surgery presented the live webinar which featured local and visiting speakers and provided health care professionals with current trends, new guidelines, and the latest expert recommendations. About 135 health care professionals participated. The course directors were Soe Naing, MD, ECNU, MRCP, FACE, Director of the UCSF Fresno Endocrinology Division, and Kelvin Higa, MD,FACS, FASMBS, Clinical Professor of Surgery for UCSF.

On Sept. 17, 2021, the UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project began offering monoclonal antibody therapy, an early treatment for COVID-19 that reduces the need for hospitalization in higher- risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 and reduces progression to severe illness by as much as 70%.

The UCSF Fresno Department of Surgery launched its Pre-medical Surgical Internship by hosting six Pre-medical Surgical Interns on campus who participated in learning basic surgical skills.  The goal of the Pre-medical Surgical Internship is to increase diversity in the surgeryresidency program which in turn improves patient health outcomes in the San Joaquin Valley.



The third annual UCSF Fresno Liver Expo was held virtually on Oct. 2, 2021. This community event focused on liver health and the COVID-19 pandemic and nutritional habits to promote liver health. The scope of the program was expanded this year to include pancreatic cancer awareness, presented by Dr. Amir Fathi, Director of HPB Surgery, Community Medical Centers. In addition to liver health lectures, the expo included an exercise class and cooking demonstration from Matthew Crum, executive chef for Community Medical Centers. Roughly 150 people participated online. Marina Roytman, MD, FACP, Director of the UCSF Fresno Liver Program, was the program director.



The UCSF Fresno Office of Diversity and Outreach launched its Health Equity Symposium series with the Advancing Excellence in LGBTQ+ Health Symposium on Nov. 12, 2021. The event featured experts from a wide variety of fields including physicians, surgeons, and mental health professionals who are specialists in LGBTQIA+ care. More than 135 physicians, social workers, allied health employees, teachers, students, and more participated. This program was created by program directors Julie Nicole, MD, Clinical Instructor, OB/GYN, UCSF Fresno; Andrea Long, MD, FACS, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF and Liana Milanes, MD, Assistant Clinical Professor, UCSF, Family and Community Medicine, UCSF Fresno.

To address the evolving needs of the growing UCSF School of Medicine regional campus in Fresno, in November, Dean Talmadge E. King, MD, announced a leadership redesign at UCSF Fresno to include two associate deans. Associate Dean Michael Peterson, MD, oversees inter-campus undergraduate medical education with UC Merced, is responsible for building a network across the Valley to expand clinical training and engage community providers and oversees increasing clinical research efforts. Associate Dean Lori Weichenthal, MD, continues to serve as Designated Institutional Officer at UCSF Fresno and oversees residency programs and the day-to-day operations of clinical aspects associated with residency programs.


In 2021, UCSF Fresno Mobile HeaL COVID-19 Equity Project administered more than 57,000 vaccines and gave more than 60,000 tests and approximately 80% of those identified as persons of color.


To support UCSF Fresno in our efforts to improve health in the San Joaquin Valley and Central California, please contact Kathleen Smith, Assistant Director of Development for UCSF Fresno, at (559) 499-6426 or [email protected].