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A deeper dive

The 21st century2000s – 2010s


The growth of a world leader in patient care, academics and medical research

UC Davis Medical Center continued to expand as a national and world leader as the century was turning. In 1997, it was one of first six hospitals in America designated as a Magnet™ nursing center of excellence. In August 1998, the Lawrence J. Ellison Ambulatory Care Center welcomed its first patients for outpatient care. In October 1999, the Telemedicine Learning Center was established, training practitioners and administrators throughout Northern California in the growing use of virtual care consultation and real-time specialist support over long distances.

In September 2001, workers broke ground on what would become another standard bearer for the UC Davis Sacramento campus, the MIND Institute. The 110,000-square-foot complex opened in 2003. The MIND’s founding was ignited by a group of parents unable to find care for their children with autism and other developmental disorders. The MIND Institute has since grown into a bastion of hope and an internationally recognized leader in understanding, researching and treating neurodevelopmental disorders.

The education mission of UC Davis Health and its coordination with the UC Davis Medical Center made two dramatic leaps to become an unparalleled teaching institution. In 2006, the School of Medicine’s Education Building opened on the Sacramento campus, bringing all four years of the UC Davis School of Medicine to Sacramento and creating an even closer link to the teaching hospital. Then in 2007, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation donated $100 million to launch the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis — the nation’s largest grant ever for nursing education.

The record gift helped establish a national class nursing school that emphasizes leadership, innovation, interprofessional training and team medicine. The school has become one of the foundations for the health system’s efforts to lead a transformation of health care locally, nationally and globally to a more multidisciplinary model of delivering care. The first nursing school students entered in 2010, taking masters and Ph.D. courses, and Betty Irene Moore Hall opened in 2017.

UC Davis Medical Center leaders have continued to build not just world-class patient care, but a nationally recognized model for patient experience. One example is the 2010 opening of the graceful surgery and emergency services pavilion, the new front entrance for the 625-bed medical center. It opens into a three-story atrium leading to a 32-foot-high tile mural of a majestic waterfall by artist Yoshio Taylor. The mural adds surprising beauty and calm for patients and has become one of the enduring images for patients and visitors.

By 2018, UC Davis Health had become the largest employer in Sacramento County, with more than 14,000 employees and an annual budget of more than $3 billion.

Also in 2018, the medical center reconnected with UC Davis’ agricultural roots and increased its focus on food sourcing, support for local farmers and ranchers and on the quality of food served to patients. UC Davis Medical Center launched a farm-to-fork program as part of a commitment to “Good Food is Good Medicine,” highlighted by the hiring of nationally renowned Executive Chef Santana Diaz. Under his leadership, the medical center’s kitchen — the second largest commercial kitchen in Sacramento — won national awards for quality and sustainability.

In 2019, UC Davis Health and Sacramento County formed an unprecedented partnership to provide care, including a growing range of specialty care, for underserved patients at the Sacramento County Primary Care Center just across from the health care campus. Coupled with a vast expansion of the number of Medi-Cal patients with access to UC Davis Health care, the health system created another huge expansion of the County Hospital’s founding mission to help people who face economic and health disparities.

The research arm of UC Davis Health and the university have long worked to bring breakthroughs and therapies to the bedsides of medical center patients and to patients everywhere. Another large step forward came in 2006, when the Clinical and Translational Science Center was established with a $24.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. UC Davis was one of the first 12 institutions in the country to receive the NIH grants to open centers that help translate biomedical research into treatment and care for patients.

In 2010, the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures opened next to the medical center to become the university’s hub for stem cell science and for work to bring stem cell therapies to patients.

As an R1 research university — a designation given to universities in the U.S. that engage in the highest levels of research — and with the rare and valuable ability to collaborate with other nationally ranked UC Davis schools on the Davis home campus, the School of Medicine began partnering more frequently with other UC Davis schools and colleges in the late 2010s. These partnerships leveraged the university’s strength as the University of California’s only campus with all 12 UC schools and colleges, including 102 undergraduate majors and 101 graduate programs.

In 2020, partnerships across the university helped the UC Davis School of Medicine become a national leader in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, treating thousands of the region’s sickest patients, helping create innovations in care, treatments and testing, and participating in crucial vaccine clinical trials.

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