Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Nynikka R. A. Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, Department of Medicine, UCSF


Box 1354, UCSF
San Francisco, CA 94143-1354

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Cancer Center Membership

Associate Member » Prostate Cancer» Cancer Control

Research Summary

Dr. Nynikka Palmer received her undergraduate training from Morgan State University, where she obtained a degree in health education with honors. She then earned a master’s degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and subsequently worked for 3 years at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia collaborating with community organizations on cancer education and early detection in minority and underserved communities. Dr. Palmer then earned a doctorate in public health, in behavioral sciences and health promotion from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston. During her doctoral program, she was a pre-doctoral fellow in an NCI-sponsored cancer prevention and control training program. She extended her training in cancer with a focus on cancer survivorship and health disparities as a postdoctoral fellow on an NCI-sponsored training award at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Palmer was recruited to join the faculty at UCSF in 2013 to further establish her research in cancer health disparities. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor, with a primary appointment in the Division of General Internal Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) and secondary appointments in Urology and Radiation Oncology. Dr. Palmer is also an Associate member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and an Associate Faculty member of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

The central theme of Dr. Palmer’s research is identifying and addressing health disparities among cancer survivors, with a special focus on the medically underserved, particularly African American men. To date, her research has examined racial/ethnic and geographic (e.g., rural/urban) disparities in follow-up care among adult cancer survivors. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she examined racial/ethnic disparities in health care receipt among male cancer survivors, rural/urban disparities in cancer survivors forgoing care because of cost, and racial/ethnic disparities in patient-provider communication, quality of care ratings, and patient activation among long-term cancer survivors. Dr. Palmer is particularly interested in prostate cancer among African American men, and has examined African American prostate cancer survivors’ treatment decision-making and their subsequent quality of life. Findings from these studies have directed her research agenda to further understand and examine quality of care and patient-provider communication among African American men with prostate cancer, particularly in low-income communities. Dr. Palmer’s long-term goal is to move beyond identifying cancer health disparities to developing, implementing, and disseminating interventions and programs that will ultimately reduce the burden of cancer among vulnerable populations.


Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD, BS, 05/00, Community Health Education
Emory University, Atlanta, GA, MPH, 05/02, Behavioral Science Health Education
University of Texas, Houston, TX, DrPH, 08/10, Health Promotion Behavioral Science
Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, Fellowship, 09/13, Cancer Prevention & Control – Cancer Survivorship

Professional Experience

  • 1998-1998
    Summer Intern, National Immunization Project, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
  • 1998-2000
    Research Interviewer, Starting Early Starting Smart Project, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
  • 2000-2000
    Public Health Intern, Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic, Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore, MD
  • 2000-2002
    Graduate Research Assistant, Healthy Body Healthy Spirit and Go Girls!, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
  • 2001-2002
    Program Operations Assistant, National Center for HIV, STD & TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
  • 2002-2005
    Mission Delivery Manager, South Atlantic Division, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA
  • 2003-2005
    Instructor, Department of Social Sciences, Georgia Perimeter College, Dunwoody, GA
  • 2006-2006
    Cancer Prevention Fellow, Patient Medication Knowledge Study, General Internal Medicine, UT MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
  • 2006-2008
    Project Director, Exploring Influenza Vaccine Attitudes: A Community Partnership. Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
  • 2007-2007
    Project Director, Assessing Problem Areas in Referrals for Chronic Hematological Malignancies, Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
  • 2007-2010
    Predoctoral Fellow, Cancer Education and Career Development Program, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, TX
  • 2009-2010
    Research Coordinator, Controlled Trial of Goal-Setting for Diabetes Control in Minority Communities, Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, TX
  • 2011-2011
    Adjunct Assistant Professor, Epidemiology, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
  • 2010-2013
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Prevention and Control Traineeship Focusing on Cancer Survivorship, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC
  • 2013-present
    Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA

Honors & Awards

  • 1997-2000
    Regents Associate Scholarship, Morgan State University
  • 2000
    Golden Key National Honor Society, Morgan State University
  • 2000
    Outstanding Practicum Experience Award, Morgan State University
  • 2001
    Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research Scholar, Northern California Cancer Center
  • 2003
    Doctoral Application Support Award, Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research
  • 2004
    Excellence in Community Outreach – Mission Delivery, American Cancer Society
  • 2010
    Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, University of Texas School of Public Health
  • 2011
    Health Equity Leadership Institute Scholar, Collaborative Center for Health Equity, University of Wisconsin.

Selected Publications

  1. Weaver KE, Palmer N, Lu L, Case LD, Geiger AM. Rural-urban differences in health behaviors and implications for health status among US cancer survivors. Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Aug; 24(8):1481-90.
    View on PubMed
  2. Naik AD, Palmer N, Petersen NJ, Street RL, Rao R, Suarez-Almazor M, Haidet P. Comparative effectiveness of goal setting in diabetes mellitus group clinics: randomized clinical trial. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Mar 14; 171(5):453-9.
    View on PubMed

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