The Science and Health Education Partnership was founded in 1987 at UC San Francisco by Bruce Alberts and David Ramsay.
As SEP Co-Director Emeritus, Rebecca Smith relays:
At SEP, the story of our founding is like legend, passed down as oral history from one generation of SEP staff to the next. In hearing the story, we learn that our origins are humble. In 1987, Bruce Alberts was Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF, a busy professor with young children in the San Francisco public schools. He and his wife, Betty, were concerned about the science education that their children were receiving and they wondered if UCSF could do something to help. Bruce initially worked to develop a mechanism to transfer surplus university laboratory equipment and supplies to the schools. This was a start, but critical to our future success, Bruce did two things – he recruited David Ramsay, then Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UCSF to support this nascent initiative and he asked teachers how UCSF could support them. As the story is told now, the teachers relayed “The supplies and equipment are great and we can really use them but what we really want is access to the intellectual resources of UCSF. We want to be able to work with scientists.” From these conversations, with the support of the university administration, and staffed by a single program coordinator, SEP was born.
Bruce Alberts has had a rich and varied history in science and science education. He is currently an emeritus faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. From 1994 to 2006, Bruce served as President of the National Academy of Sciences, he also served as the Editor-in Chief of Science magazine from 2009-2013 and as a United States Science Envoy from 2009-2011. In 2016 Bruce won the Lasker~Koshland Special Achievement Award in Medical Science, one of the highest honors in biomedicine for his work in both research and science advocacy.
David Ramsay spent 13 years as UCSF’s Senior VIce Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Dr. Ramsay left UCSF in 1994 to become President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. After his retirement in 2010, he returned to UCSF where he served as a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neurology until his death in June 2020.