Keith Yamamoto, PhD

Dr. Keith R. Yamamoto is professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UCSF, directing a research laboratory that for >40 years has made important discoveries on mechanisms that regulate transcription and transcription networks by nuclear receptors, which mediate the actions of essential hormones and cellular signals; his lab uses mechanistic and systems approaches to pursue these problems in pure molecules, cells and whole organisms. 

Yamamoto is UCSF’s first vice chancellor for Science Policy and Strategy, leading efforts to anticipate the needs of an increasingly dynamic biomedical research endeavor, and to position UCSF optimally, by working within the University as well as influencing and shaping science policy at the state and national levels and beyond.

Throughout his career, Yamamoto has been focused on the practice of science, science education and mentoring, peer review, communication of science, and advocacy for federal support for research. He has long called for integration at three levels: 1) basic, clinical and social/behavioral/population research; 2) a merging of the concepts and approaches of physical sciences, engineering and computation/math with those of the life sciences; and 3) effective partnerships between academia, industry and government. He believes that such integration, coupled with effective science education and communication, will produce transformative scientific advances that in turn can address urgent societal challenges.

After earning his PhD from Princeton University, Yamamoto joined the UCSF faculty in 1976. He has served in several significant leadership roles including chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, vice dean for research in the School of Medicine, and vice chancellor for research. He chaired the committee that led the planning of the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

Yamamoto has chaired or served on numerous national committees that influence a broad range of important matters (e.g., public and science policy, public understanding and support of biological research, science education, training the biomedical workforce, research funding, NIH peer review). He chairs the Coalition for the Life Sciences and sits on the National Research Council Governing Board Executive Committee, serves as vice chair of the National Academy of Medicine’s Executive Committee and Council, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Division of Earth and Life Studies Advisory Committee and the Executive Committee of Research!America. As Chair of the NAS Board on Life Sciences, he established study committees for numerous reports, among them Toward Precision Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease, which enunciated the precision medicine concept, and he has helped lead efforts to implement it at the state and national levels, as well as at UCSF, where he serves as Director of Precision Medicine.

He is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Academy of Microbiology, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.