Welcome to UCSF Anesthesia

Our Mission: Excellence in all aspects of Anesthesia, Pain Management, and Perioperative Care.


Prior to 1900, anesthesia was supervised and taught by faculty surgeons at both didactic and clinical levels. During the 1920s and 1930s, hospital-employed physicians provided anesthesia as a service function. Even at this early time, Dr. Chauncey Leake was performing pioneer investigative work on anesthetic agents in the Department of Pharmacology, and elective courses in clinical anesthesia were offered to medical students.

In 1940, the first faculty appointment in anesthesia was awarded, and in 1941, a Division of Anesthesia was created in the Department of Surgery. A formal residency program also was introduced at this time. The faculty consisted of 4 members, and there were 10 residency positions. The department provided anesthesia for operative procedures, consulting occasionally for intensive care and obstetric anesthesia. Research activity was minimal.

In 1958, Dr. Stuart C. Cullen became the first chairman of the new Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care. Dr. Cullen and his faculty developed a larger, more active residency program offering more broadly based clinical activity, including obstetric anesthesia, Intensive Care Unit, and anesthesia training at San Francisco General Hospital. In addition, undergraduate medical school student teaching began, and an active, productive research unit was developed. In June of 1966, Dr. Cullen left the chairmanship to become the Dean of the School of Medicine.

Dr. William K. Hamilton became chairman in 1967, and the department's growth continued. An anesthesia unit was established at the Veterans Administration Hospital and the Department assumed responsibility for the intensive care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Anesthesia faculty began to participate in providing care on the pediatric and newborn intensive care units at the University Hospital. The research base was also broadened in both quality and depth. In 1983, Dr. Hamilton was appointed Vice Dean and Associate Dean for Postdoctoral and Clinical Affairs, and in 1984, Dr. Ronald D. Miller succeeded him as Professor and Chairman.

Currently, the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care has over 100 faculty, 72 residents in clinical training, and 15 research-trainees and fellows. In addition to the University Hospital, very active units of the department exist at San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center, the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Center. Many members of the department have joint appointments in basic sciences and other clinical departments.

Our faculty have a major influence on our specialty both nationally and internationally, including NIH study sections, NIH funding, FDA and Editorial Boards.

Many of the graduates of our program hold full-time academic university positions. A number of our graduates have been or currently are chairmen of academic departments of anesthesia. The majority of our graduates have become prominent clinicians in private practice, many of whom assume leadership roles in their hospital, community, state, and/or national organizations. Clearly, the success of our graduates over the last 50 years, confirms the commitment our Department has to its residency.