Theresa O'Brien

Associate Chancellor at University of California San Francisco

Theresa O’Brien, PhD, was appointed Associate Chancellor at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in September 2014, having served as Interim Assistant Chancellor for the University and Associate Dean for Research Strategy in the School of Medicine. In her current role, she acts as an advisor to and designate of the chancellor, leading key initiatives in support of UCSF’s operational and strategic priorities. O’Brien is accountable for a wide range of activities related to UCSF governance structure, strategic planning, emergent priority issues, the Chancellor’s Executive Team and Chancellor’s Cabinet. In all aspects of her work, she partners closely with fellow executive team and cabinet members as well as internal and external stakeholders to further UCSF’s mission.

O’Brien is also an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology. Her research and teaching interests primarily focus on career and professional development for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. From 2010-2018, she directed the Graduate Student Internships for Career Exploration (GSICE) program, which provides career path education, career planning, and internship opportunities for UCSF’s basic and biomedical PhD students, and she is co-PI on a grant from the NIH to provide better resources for PhD students and postdocs to explore career options and support for faculty mentors through the Motivating INformed Decisions (MIND) program. She is also involved in advancing precision medicine and related science policy issues at UCSF.

O’Brien is a graduate of UCSF’s Tetrad Graduate Program and completed her doctoral work in biochemistry in the laboratory of Jim McKerrow, MD, PhD. A Northern California native, she graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Biology from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.


  • Associate Chancellor

    Current role

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