UCSF Names Renowned Neonatologist Sam Hawgood as New Chair of Pediatrics

May 17, 2004
News Office: Janet Basu

Dr. Sam Hawgood, an international leader in neonatology, has been named chair of the Department of Pediatrics in the UCSF School of Medicine.

The appointment, which will be effective June 1, was announced by Dr. David A. Kessler, dean of the UCSF School of Medicine and vice chancellor for medical affairs at UCSF.

Hawgood, chief of the UCSF Division of Neonatology and a senior staff member in the UCSF Cardiovascular Research Institute, has been serving as interim chair of the Department of Pediatrics for the past year. He joined the neonatal faculty at UCSF in 1984.

As a specialist in the care of newborns, Hawgood directs the William H. Tooley Intensive Care Nursery at UCSF Children's Hospital, one of the first neonatal intensive care units in the United States and an international model for treatment of premature and critically ill infants. He is past president of the Society for Pediatric Research and a Trustee of the International Pediatric Research Foundation.

As a scientist, he has a special interest in infants' developing lungs. He directs a major National Institutes of Health grant that supports a range of UCSF projects that seek a new basic understanding of lung biology and pulmonary diseases.

Hawgood also leads the neonatology team that has been critical to the success of the UCSF Fetal Treatment Center, saving the lives of infants who need surgery as newborns and some who need treatment before birth.

"Dr. Hawgood is an outstanding clinician, researcher and teacher, and his commitment to the children of our community is extraordinary," Kessler said. "I know that he will take this already great department and children's hospital to new heights, and I look forward to working with him as we chart a new vision for children's services at UCSF."

Mark Laret, CEO of UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children's Hospital, welcomed Hawgood's continuing leadership of the pediatricians and pediatric specialists who care for children at UCSF. Laret noted that national surveys regularly rank UCSF among the best in the nation for children's hospital care. "Sam's true compassion and his superb leadership make him an excellent advocate for top-quality care for children and their families," he said.

UCSF's Department of Pediatrics also ranks among the nation's best for pediatrics graduate training. Residents and fellows trained in pediatrics and its subspecialties at UCSF go on to leadership positions in medical institutions around the world. Research led by pediatrics faculty ranges from studies of the molecular basis of heart defects to improved treatments for high-risk newborns, to the study of adolescent risk taking behavior.

"The enormous depth of talent in biological and sociological sciences at UCSF makes it the most exciting place in the world to be at this time," Hawgood said. "As chair, I will work with our world-class faculty, fellows, residents and staff to further enhance the quality and scope of our services for the children and families of our region. A big part of what we do is discovery and I particularly look forward to the challenge of harnessing post-genome science for the betterment of child health."

Hawgood graduated from the University of Queensland in Australia with first class honors. He completed his pediatric training at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, and his neonatal fellowship at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and at UCSF. He began his laboratory research career working with UCSF professor Dr. John Clements, whose work has revolutionized the way physiologists and physicians view the workings of the normal and diseased lung.

Clements recalls that Hawgood's progress as a scientist was "meteoric," adding that "...within five years he had established himself as a world leader in the study of pulmonary surfactant apoproteins." First discovered by Clements, surfactants are essential to keeping the lungs of all mammals inflated as they breathe out. Hawgood and his research group have used biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology to discover additional roles for surfactants, including a previously unsuspected role in innate immunity.

As chief of neonatology, Hawgood took over the reins from the pioneers of neonatal intensive care, whose discoveries included the first use of continuous positive airway pressure and artificial surfactant for the treatment of respiratory failure in newborns. Under his leadership, UCSF neonatologists continue their pioneering tradition of applying the principles they discover in the laboratory to improve the care of their infant patients. The intensive care nursery staff continues to uphold the standards of ethics and supportive care for parents, families and patients that have distinguished its work from the outset.

Hawgood and his wife moved to the United States 22 years ago from their native Australia, expecting to stay two years. "It took us six years to realize we were here to stay," he said.

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