Claire Brindis' Director's Message

Claire BrindisAs I transitioned on July 1st as Emerita Director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, I want to once again extend my warmest thanks. Against the background of heart wrenching times for our country as the violence of structural racism, discrimination, and oppression have re-captured our national attention, and our fight against a worldwide pandemic and economic uncertainty engulfs us, I take this moment to express my deepest gratitude for having the opportunity to share in our work together.

The past 14 years, reflecting my roles as Acting, Interim and Director, have been some of the most challenging, interesting, and, ultimately, rewarding years of my life. Both within the Institute and across our campus, as well as with myriad collaborators and partners in San Francisco, in California, and across the country and globally, we have been able to promote a number of activities and initiatives that reflect our core commitment to the generating of evidence that shapes health policy—both at the capital “P” of laws and regulations, as well as the lower-case “p” level of policies and practices that shape how those laws and regulations are translated into everyday life, including program development and implementation. Contributing to sound policy aimed at improving the public’s health, through a particular focus on social equity, has driven our passions. 

Claire Brindis in Meeting with Staff
Drs. Marissa Raymond-Flesch (l), Claire Brindis and Nadine Burke Harris, California’s Surgeon General (r)

Over these years, we have witnessed momentous changes in the provision of health insurance, health care access, and a (re)turn to a far broader focus on population health. Our IHPS faculty-led research has contributed to the priority we place on increasing universal healthcare access, improvements in healthcare quality, population health level improvements, and our focus on preparing the next generation of visionary leaders. In concert with these priorities, my own personal research and policy agenda has always included a focus on these issues – as well as how these issues impact the vulnerable, the poor, and most marginalized members of our community.   

Much of our shared success reflects the incredible dedication, commitment and altruism among members of this community. Reflecting this catalytic effort, I have been particularly thrilled to witness the far greater awareness and value being placed on the role of health services, health policy, and population health research across our campus and beyond. I celebrate the expanded and enhanced network of creative scholars, research staff, and trainees who have created a number of new research initiatives during this era when such visions were encouraged and supported to grow – whether in the area of program and policy evaluation, the use of big data to improve health care delivery, quality and cost, population health initiatives, or expanding access to industry documents that point to the role of many industries in negatively shaping the nation’s health. I also celebrate our time honored and special role as translators of evidence that have shaped key health policy initiatives, including the Affordable Care Act, as well legislation that has improved coverage for children, adolescents and young adults, children with special health needs, women, and immigrants.  I am pleased that we are now capturing these and other policy-impact stories through a new UCSF repository of health policy champions.

These research and service initiatives, coupled with several new training endeavors, give me full confidence that we are enhancing the capacity of our current members and preparing the next influential and creative leaders in our field.  While unfortunately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the enthusiastic response across the campus to the first planned (now postponed) Health Services Colloquium is a testament to the increasing recognition of the importance of this arena to a growing community.

2Claire Brindis (l) with Atul Gwandw
Drs. Claire Brindis (l), Neal Halfon and Atul Gwande (r)

I have personally been so supported in my work, both within and outside of IHPS. Many of these activities would not have been accomplished without the tremendous talent and creativity of our administrative core, initially through the wisdom of Phyllis Fetto, IHPS’ long-standing Manager and Eunice Chee, IHPS’ backbone, then through a successful transition to Jeannie Wong, our current exceptional Manager and her administrative and financial team. I am most grateful to my own internal team of Annie Larsen, Patrick Henderson and Juliana Fung who created such an important infrastructure to enable our smooth operation.  We shared in many celebratory milestones together—especially IHPS’ special and memorable 40th Anniversary event held in City Hall in 2013. 

I also have tremendous peace of mind in knowing that I leave my position in the very capable hands of Dan Dohan, my Deputy over the past five years, Associate Director of Training, and now Interim Director and Joanne Spetz, Associate Director for Research. I also have tremendous confidence that the Dean and Senior Campus leaders will make a wise decision in the selection of the next Director.

My effectiveness as Director would not have ever been possible without my own exceptional research team, who enabled me to carry on my own diverse research portfolio over these many years, while balancing my leadership responsibilities.  I feel so very fortunate to have collaborated with Mara Decker, Samira Soleimanpour, Sara Geierstanger, Charles Irwin, Kathleen Tebb, Phil Darney and so many others throughout my own personal research, service, and training journey. I am so honored that they and many others will continue to be my collaborators as I continue to serve in the ranks of Distinguished Emerita (Recall) within IHPS, as well as in the Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics, Gynecology, and the Reproductive Health Sciences.  

Sam Hawgood (r), Drew Altman and Claire Brindis (l)
Sam Hawgood (l), Drew Altman and Claire Brindis (r)

As Director, I have been so privileged to have learned so much from my predecessors, Phil Lee and Hal Luft, who so capably paved the way for me. I also deeply appreciate the moral support that I have received from campus leaders, such as the UCSF School of Medicine Deans Haile Debas, David Kessler, Sam Hawgood, and Talmadge King, Chancellors Mike Bishop, Susan Desmond-Hellman, and Sam Hawgood, and Vice-Chancellors Gene Washington, Jeff Bluestone, and Daniel Lowenstein. These leaders are visionary and have been steadfast in the campus values that they represent, as well as their personal encouragement of my own voice and roles.

In closing, not only have I been able to be involved in some of the most compelling, interesting and challenging issues of the day, I have been so fortunate to have been able to work with some of the most committed, experienced, and talented people in our nation. I am forever grateful to Phil Lee, who initially gave me my start in 1983 and his tremendous vision, values, passion, and mentoring, which have been so instrumental in my life. 

And finally, though clearly, foremost, has been my incredibly good fortunate to share my life and love with Ralph Brindis, our sons and their wives, Seth and Stephanie, and Daniel and Amalia, as well as our precious grandchildren, Violet (13), Elias (10), Noemi (5), and Joaquin (2). Their love and support, as well as the joy that they have brought to my life, is the purest core of my existence.

I have every hope and expectation that regardless of where our future paths take us, they will, in fact, cross again.

With my gratitude,