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Chancellor Donates Proceeds From Tobacco Stock

The chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, has donated $134,000 from the sale of her stock in the nation’s largest cigarette company to the university’s tobacco control center, officials said Wednesday.

Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the leader of U.C.S.F. since last summer, had ordered the Altria Group stock sold on Friday, a day after being questioned about it by The New York Times. Altria owns Philip Morris USA and manufactures Marlboro cigarettes.

In a statement this week, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann said she and her husband, who is also a doctor, had not realized their financial adviser had purchased Altria among more than 100 other stocks in their investment portfolio.

“Let there be no question: I am strongly anti-tobacco,” she said, adding that tobacco company stock “conflicts with our values.”

In an interview on Monday, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann said she had handwritten the Altria stock among others on state financial disclosure forms in August 2009 and again last April. In August 2009 she listed its value in the range of $100,000 to $1 million; last April, she listed its value as $10,000 to $100,000; she declined to give specifics.

Dr. Desmond-Hellmann said she thought about divesting it earlier but that the matter slipped her mind as she was busy running the university. She previously worked at Genentech.

“As chancellor of a leading biomedical university, my actions must advance the patient care, discovery and educational mission of U.C.S.F.,” she wrote in the statement. “Therefore, my husband and I will donate all proceeds made from the sale of the tobacco company stock to U.C.S.F.’s Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education.”

The center has 46 faculty members including some of the leading anti-tobacco researchers in the nation. U.C.S.F. also keeps an online data base of more than 50 million pages of once-secret tobacco industry documents unearthed in litigation and investigation.

Updated: Stanton A. Glantz, a medical professor and director of the center, put the value of the Altria donation at $134,000. He said Dr. Desmond-Hellmann telephoned him on Tuesday morning. “She said, ‘I screwed up on this,’ and she said, ‘The best way to make it right, we’ve gotten rid of the stock and my husband and I decided the best use of it would be to donate it to your center. So make good use of it.’”

Professor Glantz praised Dr. Desmond-Hellmann for her support of the university’s anti-tobacco work. “She did have this little faux pas, but I think she acted decisively and her policy before this was excellent,” he said on Wednesday.

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