UC San Diego News Center


Breaking Ground on a New Era of Health Care

Jacobs Medical Center to transform world-class research into top-quality clinical care


Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Photos by Melissa Jacobs

Philanthropists, community leaders, health care visionaries, architects and contractors, along with faculty and staff of UC San Diego, gathered April 9 to celebrate the official start of construction for the Jacobs Medical Center, a ten-story, multi-specialty medical center that will open in La Jolla in 2016. The new medical center will transform the delivery of health care by ensuring that medical research discoveries are quickly translated into enhanced patient care.

Almost exactly two years after announcing a pledge of $75 million from Joan and Irwin Jacobs to name the new facility, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences David A. Brenner, and the Jacobs were among those putting ceremonial shovels to dirt at the future site of Jacobs Medical Center, directly adjacent to Thornton Hospital. The new facility will house the Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Cancer Hospital and the Hospital for Women and Infants.

The visionary gift from the Jacobs will help fund a state-of-the art medical center that will be the largest component of the university’s East Campus in La Jolla, and allow the UC San Diego Health System to become one of the premier destination academic medical centers in the country. In addition to increasing the speed at which medical breakthroughs are translated into clinical practice, the Jacobs Medical Center will serve as an educational space for the next generation of physicians, pharmacists and scientists.

Changing the Landscape of Health Care

As Chancellor Fox pointed out in her opening remarks at Monday’s celebration, “as long as you have the word ‘Jacobs’ in the sentence, you know a groundbreaking event will be a huge success.”

This isn’t the Jacobs’ first UC San Diego groundbreaking ceremony. Irwin Jacobs attended the groundbreaking for the Basic Science Building on campus in September 1966, when the School of Medicine and Health System were still plans on the drawing board. Jacobs added that he never dreamed his family would one day be in the position to help build a new state-of-the-art medical center on campus.

“When we heard what could be accomplished here – for this city, the campus, nation and the world – and how we could attract the very best doctors who would come to UC San Diego to train new physicians, we thought this project would be very important to support,” he said.  Joan and Irwin also introduced Carol Vassiliadis, to acknowledge her recent pledge to help fund the medical surgery floor at the Jacobs Medical Center Hospital for Cancer Care.

 “The support of our vision by the Jacobs and other generous donors will literally change the landscape of health care in San Diego, and strengthen our ability to serve patients from the region and beyond,” said David A. Brenner, Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences and Dean of the UCSD School of Medicine.”As the region’s only academic medical center, UC San Diego Health System is known for the synergy between our clinical and research mission.  We are committed to integrating into these beautiful new facilities the most advanced approaches to personalized medicine, high-risk pregnancies, imaging, surgery and the treatment of cancer.”

Irwin Jacobs, co-founder, former chairman and CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated, a San Diego-based Fortune 500 company, was also a founding faculty member of UC San Diego, serving as a professor of electrical and computer engineering from 1966 to 1972.  Both he and his wife, Joan, have been dedicated advisors as well as donors to the university, and each has served as board members of the UC San Diego Foundation.  Joan was a cofounder of the Friends of the International Center and the Friends of the Stuart Collection, as well as a long-term board member of the La Jolla Playhouse.  She currently chairs the UC San Diego Health System Advisory Board.

A Transformative Facility

The 509,500-square-foot facility will add 245 private patient rooms and include four hospitals in one location: the existing Thornton Hospital and the future Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Cancer Hospital and the Hospital for Women and Infants. Architecturally, this timeless and transformative building will center on the individual patient experience of those seeking a variety of specialized care. The architectural vision is to create a facility that is responsive to their unique needs, while incorporating input from medical faculty, staff and community members.

One of the most important features of the new medical center is its garden-based design, which includes numerous outdoor areas. Both interior and exterior spaces have been included to maximize natural light. Patients exposed to sunlight and fresh air recover faster, both physically and mentally. In terms of operations, the design incorporates the findings of work flow and efficiency studies, addressing areas where efficiency can be increased for the benefit of the patient. For example, in order to simplify the patient experience, there will be a “Patient Intake Center” that allows for the consolidation of many hospital services into one location at the front door of the hospital. Additional provisions for families of patients have been planned throughout the tower, including dedicated family areas and “living rooms” on each bed floor. There will also be a Helistop (helicopter pad) on the roof with direct access to all floors.

For more information about the Jacobs Medical Center and how you can support it, go to For more information about the Jacobs Medical Center and how you can support it go to