Associate or Full Professor - Director of the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion

Associate or Full Professor - Director of the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion

Job # JPF03569
  • VC-HEALTH SCIENCES / School of Medicine


    Position title:
    Director of the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion
    Salary range: The posted UC Salary scales set the minimum pay at the appointment as determined by appointment type and if applicable, rank and/or step. The base pay range for this position is $250,000-$400,000. Salary is negotiated annually. Additional compensation may be available if the position includes membership in the Health Sciences Compensation Plan. UC Salary information can be found here: .


    Open date:
    April 25, 2023
    Next review date: Thursday, Jun 15, 2023 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)

    Final date: Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)
    Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.


    UC San Diego Health Sciences is committed to academic, scientific, and clinical excellence and diversity within the faculty, staff, and student body and is one of three academic units at UC San Diego. Health Sciences includes three professional schools (medicine, pharmacy, and public health); more than 30 research institutes; and a growing clinical practice that includes two hospitals, all working toward fulfilling the Health Sciences' tripartite mission. Led by the Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, it accounts for the majority of the University's research and philanthropic portfolios and serves as the top healthcare system in the San Diego region. Health Sciences has more than 1,700 faculty members, 1,000 residents and fellows, 800 medicine and pharmacy students, 1,500 graduate students, and 1,000 undergraduate public health majors. Its academic programs rank among the best in the country for primary care and research.

    UC San Diego seeks in its Sanford Institute Director an inspirational scientific leader with a deep research background and proven administrative experience to work closely with faculty, staff, and administrators within the Sanford Institute and beyond, fostering excellence in research and discovery, addressing physician burnout, informing the medical curriculum on empathy and compassion, and community outreach and service. The Director will work closely with a broad community of stakeholders to envision and achieve Sanford Institute's goals that align with UC San Diego Health Sciences' future plans and tripartite mission.

    UC San Diego Health is ranked No. 1 in San Diego and No. 17 nationally for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report in 2021. The physicians at UC San Diego Health not only provide personalized care with better outcomes, they also set treatment standards nationwide for more than 200 types of cancer, access to transformative clinical trials, advanced supportive care, and quality metrics.

    In 2019, businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford committed $100 million toward creating the T. Denny Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion at UC San Diego. This gift establishes a virtual institute to study the neurobiological basis of empathy and compassion and implement training models for physician education (medical students through practicing physicians) to teach the practice of compassion for self and others effectively.

    With the establishment of the Institute, investments have been made towards expanding subject matter expertise through key professorships, seed funding for research, collaborative projects, and appointment of research fellows and scholars. The Institute explores the neurobiology of empathy and compassion with educators to create curricula that enhance and sustains empathy and compassion in students and physicians for both self and others. The Institute employs state-of-the-art neuroscience technologies, including sophisticated neuro-imaging, to identify and map brain activity created by empathic behavior, quantify the factors promoting or inhibiting compassionate behavior, and design new methods to increase empathic signals in the brain.

    Additional activities include the establishment of an annual international conference, integrating new methods into the medical school curriculum, enhancing the Student-Run Free Clinic, and the establishment various centers.

    The Director leads the Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion, providing overall strategic and intellectual direction for the Institute's research programs, administrative structure, allocation of financial resources, and reviews of multidisciplinary education, wellness, and research efforts. The incumbent is responsible for creating and sustaining productive relationships with leaders across UC San Diego to ensure that Institute program initiatives are informed by and address the needs of those in the Health Sciences as well as the campus at large. The Director builds bridges with institutions in California and beyond to facilitate scaling and dissemination of Institute programs targeting empathy and compassion to enhance the lives of medical students, residents, medical faculty, and the patients they serve. In so doing, the Director enhances the visibility of the Institute and its activities regionally, nationally and internationally. The Director works closely with each of the Institute's six centers to provide strategic guidance, align programmatic activity, ensure proper financial stewardship, and evaluate outcomes of goals and milestones.

    Reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, with secondary reporting to the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the Director partners with academic and clinical leaders to guide research and care in the Health Sciences, and provides advice and counsel to campus- and University-level committees, as appropriate. The Director chairs the Sanford Institute Executive Council and leads the External Advisory Board, which advises on programmatic plans within the Institute and provides oversight and coordination of programs and research activities to ensure efficiency and transparency. In overseeing the activities of the Center for Research in empathy and compassion, the Director ensures transparency and fairness in all research activities and establishes and supports the Scientific Review Board and its panel of multidisciplinary experts who review and guide the research direction of the Institute.

    The Director manages the operations of the Sanford Institute, including its scientific and education programs and is responsible for overseeing agreements, ensuring appropriate financial and administrative oversight, and including partner institutions (e.g. Compassion Institute) in all relevant activities and programs in accordance with the requirements set by the gift agreement.

    Strategic Planning
  • Sets the overarching vision for the Sanford Institute to increase its leadership in empathy and compassion research, medical curriculum, and physician wellness.

  • Leads long-range strategic planning efforts, including implementation and evaluation processes, in alignment with UC San Diego Health Sciences tripartite mission.

  • Identifies areas of strategic investment that advance the Center's strengths in research discovery leading to novel training and interventions to advance empathy and compassion.

  • Establishes partnerships with key external academic, research, and health organizations, locally and nationally as well as internationally, to expand the Sanford Institute brand.

  • Leads efforts to launch new programs and/or initiatives to advance UC San Diego Health Sciences' national and international prominence in education, research, and physician wellness for empathy and compassion.

  • Identifies areas of synergy between the Institute and campus units that would foster academic excellence and scientific creativity related to the institute's mission.

  • Establishes internal and external multidisciplinary relationships with the national and international research community to foster collaborative research opportunities in both basic and applied research of empathy and compassion. 

  • Builds collaborations between scientists and educators to incorporate more effective training strategies into the curriculum at UC San Diego, providing future doctors with enhanced tools to harness their skills in compassionately caring for patients.

  • Works with external institutions in building partnerships to scale programmatic efforts created and developed at Sanford Institute. 

  • Establishes internal and external multidisciplinary relationships with the national and international research community to foster collaborative research opportunities in both basic and applied research of empathy and compassion.

    Administrative Management
  • Partners with academic and clinical leaders across the Health Sciences and UC San Diego campus to implement new programs, coordinate and evaluate empathy and compassion research outcomes.

  • In partnership with the Institute Center Directors, fosters innovative program and research methodologies and opportunities across multidisciplinary areas.

  • Working with the Office of Advancement team, builds relationships with the philanthropic community to secure gifts toward empathy and compassion education, research, and/or physician wellness.

  • Maintains overall accountability for the development and adherence of the Sanford Institute budget to ensure organizational fiscal standards and expectations are met.

  • Identifies gaps in faculty knowledge and expertise.

  • Facilitates recruitment of talent to advance Sanford Institute mission.
    Scholarly Activity 

  • Teaching and mentorship of trainees, along with service activities in an academic or clinical setting.

  • Participate in and meaningfully contribute to appropriate Health Sciences committees and meetings.
    The chosen candidate would be expected to be appointed as a faculty member in an academic school or department within Health Sciences, as aligned best with their academic and/or scholarly interests and expertise. Teaching, scholarly efforts and service would be commensurate with the departmental requirements for all faculty.

    Senior administrative positions at UC San Diego Health Sciences are considered at-will. This position will have annual performance reviews with a formal committee review every fifth year.

    A link to full descriptions of each series is provided for your review:

    Ladder Rank Professor - see:
    In-Residence Professor - see:
    Clinical X Professor - see:
    HS Clinical Professor - see:
    Adjunct Professor - see:

    As a member of the Health Sciences Compensation Plan, the appointee should be aware that there are limitations on outside professional activities and clinical moonlighting is expressly prohibited. Additional information can be found here:

    Vice Chancellor Health Sciences:


    Basic qualifications
    (Required at Time of Application)
  • Demonstrated dynamic leadership skills with a high level of conceptual and strategic thinking.

  • Personal record of distinguished Neurosciences research (basic, translational, and/or clinical) supported by a record of consistent federal (e.g. NIH, NSF) and private (e.g. foundation) funding such that the candidate qualifies for appointment as a Full Professor at UC San Diego.

  • Demonstrated commitment to Neurosciences research with evidence of the ability to effectively collaborate with investigators at UC San Diego as well as other US and international institutions.

  • Demonstrated commitment to contributing to diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as a commitment to advancing these principles within the School.

  • Terminal degree (MD, MD/PhD, PhD, PharmD, DrPH, etc.). If appropriate, certification required to practice in the state of California and eligible for a professional licensure in California.

    Preferred qualifications
    Candidates must have a broad set of important skills to be successful as Director. While no one person is expected to possess them all, the successful candidate will embody many of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • Outstanding academic record with experience as an effective senior administrator in an academic medical center environment.

  • Demonstrated success in managing and leading a complex organization undergoing significant and persistent change, with the ability to innovate and generate new ideas.

  • Demonstrated experience managing a unit's financial resources including; operating within a defined budget, reviewing financial analyses and plans, and providing regular reports to institutional leadership.

  • Demonstrated success in enhancing the research agenda of an academic unit or program, in responding to faculty needs and building environments that enhance research innovation, and in building programs and environments that enhance research productivity.

  • Demonstrated ability to build a sense of community and to actively engage faculty, staff, students, and alumni in support of a shared strategic vision.

  • Exceptional interpersonal and communications skills; the ability to listen attentively to varied perspectives and foster a supportive and collaborative working environment.

  • A collegial, consultative management style, with the ability to be strong and decisive while also taking into account the needs and perspectives of faculty, staff, and students.

  • The ability to collaborate and to delegate along with the ability to make difficult and timely decisions based on well-considered input.

  • A history of fostering career development for early and mid-stage faculty across multiple disciplines.

  • The ability to represent the Sanford Institute and UC San Diego effectively; to build strong relationships with internal and external constituents, to be an effective advocate for the Sanford Institute and the advancement of the profession.

  • A high level of integrity and professionalism, and a commitment to support the professional development of faculty and staff.


    Document requirements

  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter

  • Statement of Contributions to Diversity - Applicants should summarize their past or potential contributions to diversity. See our Faculty Equity site for more information.

  • Authorization to Release Form - Applicants must complete, sign and upload this form. See Institutional Reference Check ( ) for more information.

  • COVID 19 Statement - COVID-19 Impact Statement
    We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic may have had a substantial impact on academic productivity. In our academic hiring processes, we will be keeping this in mind as we consider achievement relative to opportunity. We encourage you to reflect on constraints on opportunity in your field that were caused by the events of the pandemic and where applicable, to discuss your achievements in this light. 

  • Misc / Additional (Optional)

    Reference requirements
  • 3 required (contact information only)

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    The University of California, San Diego is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer advancing inclusive excellence. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, covered veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.

    As a condition of employment, you will be required to comply with the University of California SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Vaccination Program Policy. All Covered Individuals under the policy must provide proof of Full Vaccination or, if applicable, submit a request for Exception (based on Medical Exemption, Disability, and/or Religious Objection) or Deferral (based on pregnancy) no later than the applicable deadline. For new University of California employees, the applicable deadline is eight weeks after their first date of employment.

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