University of California San Francisco

About Us

Founded by John W. Severinghaus, MD, in 1958, the UCSF Hypoxia Research Laboratory is a leading center for the study of the effects of hypoxia on humans. The laboratory has focused on oxygen transport, oxygen measurement, and high-altitude physiology for more than 40 years. Studies done in San Francisco and at the University of California’s White Mountain Research Station represent some of the most important studies done on human adaptation to hypoxia. We continue this interest in studies on control of breathing and adaptation to hypoxia in humans.

At the present time, the Hypoxia Lab is also actively working to improve access to accurate pulse oximeters, especially those commonly found in resource-denied settings. More information about this initiative can be found at OpenOximetry.org.

We are a completely independent university-based testing facility with non-profit status as part of UCSF.

 

Photos Courtesy of Professor Emeritus Richard Schlobohm and the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care History Archive maintained by Morgen Ahearn.

Our History

The laboratory was founded in the late 1950s when John Severinghaus, MD moved to San Francisco to be part of the UCSF Department of Anesthesia and the Cardiovascular Research Institute, then directed by Julius Comroe. Severinghaus and colleagues were responsible for decades of innovation, with some outlined below:

Hypoxia Laboratory Staff

John W. Severinghaus, M.D.

John W Severinghaus MD, founder of the UCSF Hypoxia Research Laboratory, died June 2nd, 2021 at age 99. His innumerable contributions included the invention of modern blood gas analysis and blood gas machines. He also contributed fundamentally to understanding the control of breathing and adaptation to high altitudes in humans. His interest in hypoxia and high-altitude medicine led to the founding of the Hypoxia Research Laboratory in 1958, shortly after his arrival in San Francisco.

Philip E. Bickler, Ph.D., M.D.

Dr. Bickler joined Dr. Severinghaus as a research fellow in 1986 and he has directed the laboratory since Dr. Severinghaus’ retirement in the early 1990’s. In addition to the Hypoxia Lab for industry sponsored clinical studies, Dr. Bickler directs a basic science laboratory that is involved in studying how neurons adapt to oxygen deprivation. He also oversees our high altitude protocols, clinical projects investigating regional and cerebral oximetry during neurosurgery, and a pilot study examining the effects of acute hypoxia.

John R. Feiner, M.D.

Dr. Feiner has been involved in the Hypoxia Lab since his fellowship in 1992. Much of his research has focused on hypoxia, pulse oximetry and pulmonary physiology. He is interested in diving medicine and free-diving and has been a safety physician at a number of free-diving competitions. He continues to do medical missions with Operation Rainbow, which does orthopedic surgery mainly in Central and South America.

Michael Lipnick is an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesia at UCSF and based clinically at San Francisco General Hospital. He is a graduate of the UCSF School of Medicine and completed residency programs in internal medicine at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and anesthesia residency at UCSF as well as Critical Care Fellowship at UCSF. His research interests include comparative physiology with focus on mechanisms of hypoxia tolerance and preconditioning. He completed a research fellowship at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station where he studied mechanisms of cold-tolerance among endothermic fish. Michael’s interests in public health have focused on injury and critical care in resource-constrained settings. He has served as a contributor to the Global Burden of Disease Study Group and co-founded The Global Health Hub and Global Partners in Anesthesia and Surgery (GPAS). Dr. Lipnick’s current grant funding is aimed at developing novel methods for oximetry validation during severe anemia.

Dr. Law completed a five-year residency in anesthesiology at the University of Toronto, and holds an M.Sc. in health policy, planning and finance from the London School of Economics and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He is interested in the interface between the surgical system and the rest of the health system, and how these interactions can be optimized. His experience in global health is an outgrowth of this interest, and he has published on knowledge translation in developing countries as well as completed an internship at WHO in Geneva.

Dr. Law’s clinical activities are based at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

He’s excited to be working to expand the contribution of anesthesia to UCSF’s global health work. He’s a beginner rock climber and an avid cyclist in Toronto, but Toronto is a fairly flat city, so if anyone has advice on how to survive cycling in San Francisco he’ll gladly take it.

Gregory Leeb, M.B.B.S., FANZCA

Dr. Leeb is an Australian-trained anesthesiologist with a strong interest in global health equity and pediatric anesthesia. He has recently completed a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia at the Red Cross Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa and the UCSF CHESA fellowship. He has also completed a master of public health to better understand the broader issues affecting access to equitable health care globally. Gregory has assisted in developing community clinics and ongoing nurse education in Sierra Leone and worked as a medical aero-retrievalist in rural and remote Australia with Australia’s First Nations communities. He hopes to continue to develop his understanding of global surgery and health equity.

James Ramsay, M.D.

Carolyn Hendrickson, MD, MPH

Dr. Hendrickson is a physician scientist practicing Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine where she works on several clinical and translational research projects aimed understanding the pathobiology of pneumonia, sepsis, and severe COVID-19 disease and improving clinical outcomes for critically ill patients. She is the Medical Director of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, the county’s safety net hospital. Outside of work, Carolyn enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, sailing, and camping with her partner, young children, and dog. She recently took up gravel biking.

Kelvin Moore

Kelvin Moore Jr. is a UCSF Medical Student and Research Assistant in the Hypoxia Lab. With career interests in anesthesiology and an overarching passion for implementing health equity, he believes that working on OpenOximetry is an excellent opportunity to propel his interests as well as contribute to a canon of work that highlights and addresses the disparate medical conditions seen domestically and globally. Prior to his appointment with the Hypoxia Lab, he served as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He holds two Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and Biology from Brown University.

Seema Gandhi, M.D.

Romain Pirracchio, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Pirraacchio is the Chief of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

He received his medical degree in 1999 from Lariboisiere Medical School, Paris Diderot University, before completing a fellowship in critical care at Hôpital Lariboisière from 2003-2005, where he subsequently joined the faculty. In 2012, Dr. Pirracchio also received a doctoral degree in epidemiology and biostatistics at Paris Diderot University, then completed a postdoc in biostatistics at UC Berkeley in 2013.

Dr. Pirracchio was an Assistant Professor in Anesthesiology and Critical Care at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou at Paris Descartes University from 2005-2010 before assuming the role of Head of the Surgical & Trauma Critical Care team at the Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou at Paris Descartes University from 2010-2013. Dr. Pirracchio achieved the highest French academic degree of Habilitation in 2014.

Odinakachukuw (Odi) Ehie, M.D., FASA

Dr. Ehie not only currently serves as the Anesthesia Co-Director for the Health Volunteer Overseas, but she also serves as Chair of the SEA Global Health Outreach Committee. She is currently the Chair for the California Society of Anesthesiologists Committee of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI), Vice Chair of the Society of Pediatric Anesthesia Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, and she is the Vice Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) within the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care.

Isabella Auchus, M.D.

Dr. Auchus graduated medical school from UCSF where she pursued interests in anesthesia and global health equity with the Open Oximetry team. Dr. Auchus has been a key contributor to building the oximetry database, FAQs, and studies on oximeter performance on varied skin pigments. She is also a research associate in the Hypoxia Lab where she has been actively studying the performance of inexpensive oximeters. She will be completing her residency in anesthesiology at UCSF.

Jenna Lester, M.D.

Dr. Lester is a dermatologist and faculty member at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She founded the UCSF Skin of Color Clinic, where she is the director. The clinic looks to address health disparities by providing dermatological care to people of color.

Matthew Dudley

Olubunmi (Bunmi) Okunlola, M.D.

Bunmi Okunlola is a Clinical Instructor of Anesthesia at NYU and member of the UCSF Hypoxia Lab research team. After completing her medical training and anesthesia residency at Mount Sinai in New York, Bunmi joined the CHESA team in 2020 as a Global Health Equity Fellow. During her Fellowship year she was based at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and her projects included development of a Health Equity Curriculum for residents in multiple perioperative departments. Bunmi also led a research project focusing on equity in pulse oximetry.

Fekir Negussie, MPH

As a public health professional, Fekir worked in Southern Africa for several years leading research and implementation projects. She worked as a Strategic Information Fellow with CDC Mozambique analyzing programmatic data and supporting Implementing Partners develop data collection tools. Most recently, Fekir worked as the in-country lead for IGHS’ portfolio of projects in Namibia conducting HIV research and launching national-level informatics projects.

Currently, Fekir is a Program Manager at the Center for Health Equity in Surgery and Anesthesia. In this role, she supports the Open Oximetry project (https://openoximetry.org), which aims to solve challenges in equitable global access to pulse oximeters, and the COVID-19 Global Goods project (https://opencriticalcare.org) including the COVID-19 Guidelines Dashboard, Resource Library, and Oxygen Calculator.

Ashlee Osborne, B.A.

Ashlee is primarily dedicated to supporting the OpenOximetry project by expanding research outreach initiatives, conducting data analysis, and curating the Diversity Toolkit, a tool to be utilized by research principal investigators wanting to conduct more diverse research. Additionally, she is a 4th year UC Berkeley Molecular and Cell Biology student and will be attending medical school with the goal of practicing Cosmetic and Skin Cancer Dermatology, Pediatric Anesthesiology, or Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery.

Casey Norlin, M.D.

Casey Norlin grew up moving around the US and UK before attending Northwestern University where she majored in Neuroscience, enjoyed taking Anthropology courses, and was heavily involved in student theatre. She then worked as a Management Fellow for Cancer Treatment Centers of America before attending LSU New Orleans for medical school. As a current intern at Tulane University, she is interested in learning about how health systems function across countries, particularly in low-resource settings, and investigating how global partnerships can foster bi-directional learning. She’s excited to start her Anesthesiology residency training years at UCSF in July of 2024.

Tianyue Zhou

Tianyue is a 1st-year PhD student in Biostatistics at UC Berkeley and has been collaborating with the Hypoxia Lab since 2023. He is involved in several projects trying to leverage statistical tools to identify features that affect the performance of pulse oximeters. He is also broadly interested in machine learning for health care and causal inference. He enjoys football, traveling and music during his spare time.

Nick Fong

Nick’s interests lie at the intersection of medicine and data science.

Danni Chen, M.S.

Danni joined the Hypoxia Lab in October 2023 and her background focuses on biostatistics and data science. She is excited to explore how her background may contribute to global health and health equity.

Michael Bernstein

Mike Bernstein is an engineer with extensive experience in pulse oximeter device development and validation. For nearly 40 years he has worked for leading oximeter manufacturers to develop and improve pulse oximeter technologies. He is the collaborating lead engineer for the UCSF Hypoxia Lab and has also served as a collaborator and advisor for Lifebox.

Jana Lyn Fernandez

Jana Lyn first joined the lab in October 2022 as an SF BUILD NIH Funded Scholar. Now, she splits her time being a student intern in the Hypoxia Lab and getting her master’s in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley. Jana Lyn graduated in May 2023 at San Francisco State University. She got her bachelor’s in science degree in chemistry. Her goal is to bridge the engineering and medical fields together.

Yu (Celine) Chou, B.S.

Celine is a Clinical Research Coordinator with the Hypoxia Lab and the Kornblith Lab. She primarily oversees patient enrollment, data collection and management for the EquiOx project and many of the trauma and ICU-related projects at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Before joining UCSF, Celine graduated in 2021 from the University of Michigan with an honors degree in Biopsychology, Cognitive, and Neuroscience (BCN) and Biology, Health, and Society (BHS). She aims to pursue a career in the medical field. Through her professional interests, she hopes to continue her impact on health equity and medicine.

Seif Elmankabadi

Seif is currently working in the Hypoxia and Kornblith Lab, with hopes of attending medical school in the fall of 2024. Seif graduated with honors from UC Davis in 2022 where he studied Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, and also played on the division one men’s water polo team. In his free time, he loves watching the Los Angeles Lakers, surfing, and spending time with his family and friends.

Ella Behnke

Ella joined the Hypoxia Lab as a Clinical Research Coordinator in April of 2023. She oversees subject and sponsor study scheduling for pulse oximetry testing with the lab. She also assists with data collection and management for both the OpenOximetry and EquiOx projects.

Before coming to UCSF, Ella graduated from Macalester College in 2022 with a Bachelor’s in Biology and Community and Global Health. She has an EMT license and worked at Planned Parenthood as a Medical Assistant after graduation. Along with an internship at OHSU where she assisted research in on nontuberculous myobacteria, she worked with her professor while studying in Sweden on a research project in human trafficking for the purpose of organ removal. In her free time, she crochets her friends sweaters and practices aerial.

René Vargas Zamora, M. Sc.

René Vargas Zamora carries out clinical operations at the UCSF Hypoxia Lab for the EquiOx Study; having obtained a program certificate in clinical trials management from the University of Delaware and a Good Clinical Practice certificate from NIDA Clinical Trials Network. Holding a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from National Taiwan University and a strong background working in poverty alleviation – Vargas Zamora seeks to transition into a new career in clinical research that focuses on health equity.

Lily Ortiz, M.S.

Lily (she/her) joined the Hypoxia Lab as a Clinical Research Coordinator in August of 2023. She oversees data collection and management for pulse oximetry testing in the lab and will soon assist with the EquiOx project. She also supports the management of the Open Oximetry, Open Critical Care and Hypoxia Lab websites.

Lily is a recent graduate from the UCSF Global Health Sciences Master’s program. For her master’s capstone project, she analyzed data from snakebite patients treated at private hospitals in Tamil Nadu, India to assess the accuracy of coagulation parameters in diagnosing venomous snakebites. During her graduate studies, Lily worked as an Administrative Assistant for CHESA and supported the OpenCriticalCare and OpenOximetry projects.

Sky Vanderburg, MD MPH

Dr. Sky Vanderburg, MD MPH is a physician-scientist with a passion for redesigning critical care to maximize clinical impact while reducing inequity and waste. Aside from his clinical duties as a pulmonologist & intensivist, his research portfolio at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) includes initiatives to evaluate and reengineer respiratory support devices to conserve oxygen. He is also a technical advisor for US Government (USAID) and WHO programs aiming to evaluate and improve oxygen delivery in resource-variable settings. In his spare time, he can be found at the San Francisco Opera or swimming in the bay.