Richard N. Barg, JD, MBA is Director of Digital Strategy and Web Development for the Department of Surgery. Barg has developed over 75 websites for the Department and has overall responsibility for Department's social media accounts. Barg also assists in the onboarding of new faculty in the Department, advising them on how to build and optimize their digital footprint.
In 2016, Barg was appointed by then Interim Chair of the Department of Surgery John P. Roberts, MD to represent the Department on the UCSF Committee on Web Governance. He served in that role until 2019, when the committee disbanded after enacting a comprehensive suite of policies. Barg has collaborated with numerous programs and institutional entities at UCSF, including the Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI), UCSF Profiles, and the UCSF Foundation, leveraging their data and features to develop a more robust web footprint for the Department. Barg has also written an article for the UCSF Department of Radiology on lung cancer screening protocols.
Barg graduated Muhlenberg College with a degree in political science. He earned his law degree from Emory University and is a member of the California Bar. He also has an MBA from Golden Gate University.
In 2000, Barg's then partner was diagnosed with advanced non-small cell lung cancer at the age of 42, after having been told by her doctors for nearly a year that she was probably suffering from asthma and seasonal allergies. She was then informed her disease was incurable, that treatment would have insignificant clinical benefit, and that she had less than a year to live.
Undaunted, she sought treatment at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center where she was referred to David M. Jablons, MD, Chief of Thoracic Surgery and Program Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program. Her treatment team, which included thoracic oncologist Thierry Jahan MD, initiated an aggressive therapeutic regimen of neoadjuvant (before surgery) chemotherapy and radiation, a protocol that led to the downstaging of her tumor so she could undergo potentially curative surgery.Although Barg's partner eventually succumbed to her disease, the state-of-the-art treatment she recevied at the cancer center, both before and after surgery, enabled her to live for nearly four years.
As a caregiver and logistical coordinator for his partner in two clinical trials for novel therapeutic agents, Barg learned firsthand about the stigma associated with lung cancer, including a "blame the victim" mentality. Among the public misconceptions: only smokers developed lung cancer, and female never smokers were such outliers that symptoms pointing the disease could be safely attributed to something else. In fact, worldwide, lung cancer in never-smokers comprises an estimated 15 to 20 percent of cases in men and over 50 percent in women. In the U.S., nearly 20 percent of women diagnosed lung cancer have never smoked.
On the strength of his academic background and extensive experience as a caregiver, Dr. Jablons hired Barg as Director of Strategic Development for the Thoracic Oncology Program. In addition to a mandate to grow the program, Barg was tasked with helping to change the prevailing narrative of therapeutic nihilism, replacing it with one of empathy and compassion; and helping to foster a climate where donors would open their wallets and pocketbooks to drive research funding.
Within weeks of being hired, Barg reached out to Amy Marcus, a science reporter at the Wall Street Journal, recounting Nadine's experience as a lung cancer patient and survivor. Intrigued, Marcus published an article focused on the plight of women diagnosed with lung cancer, devoting several paragraphs to a discussion of his partner's struggles with the stigma of lung cancer, and his thoughts on public misperceptions.
Several months later, Marcus penned another article, "New Approach To Lung Cancer: Being Aggressive" citing UCSF as among only a handful of institutions pioneering aggressive approaches to saving and extending the lives of selected lung cancer patients.
Barg's public engagement and advocacy eventually led to his appointment as a Board Member of the National Lung Cancer Partnership, a leading non-profit supporting lung cancer research, where he served in a policy-making role for four years.