The Division was founded in 1980 as part of the establishment of the multi-campus Northern California Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (UC Berkeley-UC Davis-UCSF), a unit that was mandated by the state legislature to provide training, research, and clinical service.
In 1992, Dr. Paul D. Blanc and Dr. John R. Balmes assumed the positions of Division Chiefs at Parnassus-Mt Zion and SFGH, respectively. In 2002, Dr. Balmes was additionally appointed to the faculty in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley School of Public Health in its Division of Environmental Health Sciences and as Director of the multi-UC Campus Center for Occupational and Environmental Health (COEH). In January 2015, Dr. Blanc became Chief of an integrated three-campus Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine that includes a new academic Division at the UCSF-affiliated San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) as well as the existing Parnassus-Mt Zion and SFGH units. Dr. Balmes has assumed interim directorship of the joint UCSF-Berkeley Joint Medical Program in addition to his roles at SFGH, UC Berkeley, and COEH. Dr. Balmes also has a secondary appointment in the SFGH Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine; Dr. Blanc has a parallel secondary appointment in the Parnassus-Mt. Zion Pulmonary Division, as well as secondary appointments in the Department of Medical Anthropology, Social Medicine and Medical History and in the School of Pharmacy (through his work with the California Poison Control System San Francisco Division).
In addition to internationally recognized research programs in occupational and environmental lung diseases at both the Parnassus-Mt. Zion and SFGH campuses under the leadership of Drs. Blanc and Balmes, an internationally recognized program in ergonomics research that was established by Dr. David Rempel is based at the Richmond Field Station campus of UC Berkeley. The Division has long been the site of a CDC/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)-funded training program, the UCSF OEM Residency. This residency is an ACGME-accredited program that is governed by the American Board of Preventive Medicine. This training program has expanded further with additional extramural support from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Division physicians provide clinical care at the UCSF Medical Center, SFGH, and the VAMC campuses, as well as medical direction for Occupational Health Services for employees at all three sites. Members of the Division faculty are prominent in a variety of scholarly endeavors. In 2014, long-time faculty member Dr. Robert Harrison co-edited the latest (5th) edition of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (Current Diagnosis and Treatment) with the Division’s Emeritus Professor Dr. Joseph LaDou. Faculty members also play leading roles in various public health policy activities at the state, national, and international levels.