Research Summary

Donald I. Abrams, M.D. is a general oncologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, an integrative oncologist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He graduated from Brown University in 1972 and from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 1977. After completing an Internal Medicine residency at the Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Francisco, he became a fellow in Hematology-Oncology at the UCSF Cancer Research Institute in 1980. During his fellowship, Dr. Abrams spent eight months working in the retrovirology laboratory of Harold Varmus, M.D. during the time that the first cases of AIDS were being diagnosed. He subsequently returned to the clinical arena where he was one of the original clinician/investigators to recognize many of the early AIDS-related conditions. He conducted numerous clinical trials investigating conventional as well as complementary therapies in patients with HIV including therapeutic touch, Traditional Chinese Medicine interventions, medicinal mushrooms, medical marijuana and distant healing. His interest in botanical therapies led him to pursue a two-year Fellowship in the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona which he completed in December 2004. His particular passion in the field involves nutrition and cancer. Since completing his Fellowship, Dr. Abrams has been providing Integrative Medicine consultation to people living with and beyond cancer at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He served as Chief of hematology-Oncology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital from 2003-2017. He co-edited an Oxford University Press textbook in Integrative Oncology with Andrew Weil, M.D.. He is a member of the NCI PDQ CAM Editorial Board. Dr. Abrams was President of the Society of Integrative Oncology in 2010.

Research Funding

  • April 1, 2006 - March 31, 2009 - Opioid and Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetic Interactions , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R21DA020831
  • October 1, 1974 - November 30, 2007 - General Clinical Research Center , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: M01RR000083
  • September 30, 1989 - March 31, 2007 - COMMUNITY CONSORTIUM (CPCRA) , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: U01AI042169
  • September 15, 2003 - May 31, 2006 - Antihyperlipidemic Effects of Oyster Mushrooms , Principal Investigator . Sponsor: NIH, Sponsor Award ID: R21AT001782


Brown University, Providence, RI, AB, 1972, Molecular Biology
Stanford Univ. School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, MD, 1977, Medicine
Kaiser Foundation Hospital, San Francisco, CA, 1980, Internal Medicine
Cancer Research Institute, UCSF, 1983, Hematology/Oncology
University of Arizona, Fellowship, Tucson, AZ, 2004, Integrative Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • 1986-89
    American Cancer Society Career Development Award
  • 1990
    Assistant Secretary of Health's Award for Outstanding Accomplishment
  • 2000
    American Foundation for AIDS Research Award of Courage
  • 2000
    International Association of Physicians in AIDS CARE (IAPAC) Heroes in Medicine Award
  • 2002
    UCSF AIDS Research Institute Sarlo Award for Excellence in Mentoring
  • 2007
    International Association for Cannabis as Medicine Award for Clinical Research
  • 2009
    National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Lester Grinspoon Award
  • 2015
    Patients Out of Time Lifetime Achievement in Cannabis Medicine
  • 2015
    2015 Lesbian, Gay. Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) Leadership Award from the California Legislative LGBT Caucus
  • 2015
    Newsweek Magazine 2015 Top Cancer Doctors

Selected Publications

  1. Dusek JA, Gao Q, Kim RS, Abrams DI, Kligler B, Dyer NL, Hansen K, McKee MD, PRIMIER Research Group. Patients Receiving Integrative Medicine Effectiveness Registry (PRIMIER) of the BraveNet practice-based research network: Outcomes of the PRIMIER cohort. Complement Ther Med. 2022 Nov 23; 71:102904.  View on PubMed
  2. Li S, Cruz-Torres R, Santiesteban N, Ye ZH, Abrams D, Alsalmi S, Androic D, Aniol K, Arrington J, Averett T, Gayoso CA, Bane J, Barcus S, Barrow J, Beck A, Bellini V, Bhatt H, Bhetuwal D, Biswas D, Bulumulla D, Camsonne A, Castellanos J, Chen J, Chen JP, Chrisman D, Christy ME, Clarke C, Covrig S, Craycraft K, Day D, Dutta D, Fuchey E, Gal C, Garibaldi F, Gautam TN, Gogami T, Gomez J, Guèye P, Habarakada A, Hague TJ, Hansen JO, Hauenstein F, Henry W, Higinbotham DW, Holt RJ, Hyde C, Itabashi T, Kaneta M, Karki A, Katramatou AT, Keppel CE, Khachatryan M, Khachatryan V, King PM, Korover I, Kurbany L, Kutz T, Lashley-Colthirst N, Li WB, Liu H, Liyanage N, Long E, Mammei J, Markowitz P, McClellan RE, Meddi F, Meekins D, Beck SM, Michaels R, Mihovilovic M, Moyer A, Nagao S, Nelyubin V, Nguyen D, Nycz M, Olson M, Ou L, Owen V, Palatchi C, Pandey B, Papadopoulou A, Park S, Paul S, Petkovic T, Pomatsalyuk R, Premathilake S, Punjabi V, Ransome RD, Reimer PE, Reinhold J, Riordan S, Roche J, Rodriguez VM, Schmidt A, Schmookler B, Segarra EP, Shahinyan A, Slifer K, Solvignon P, Širca S, Su T, Suleiman R, Szumila-Vance H, Tang L, Tian Y, Tireman W, Tortorici F, Toyama Y, Uehara K, Urciuoli GM, Votaw D, Williamson J, Wojtsekhowski B, Wood S, Zhang J, Zheng X. Revealing the short-range structure of the mirror nuclei 3H and 3He. Nature. 2022 09; 609(7925):41-45.  View on PubMed
  3. Braun IM, Nayak MM, Roberts JE, Chai PR, Tulsky JA, Abrams DI, Pirl W. Backgrounds and Trainings in Cannabis Therapeutics of Dispensary Personnel. JCO Oncol Pract. 2022 Nov; 18(11):e1787-e1795.  View on PubMed
  4. Siani-Rose M, McKee R, Cox S, Goldstein B, Abrams D, Taylor M, Kurek I. The Potential of Salivary Lipid-Based Cannabis-Responsive Biomarkers to Evaluate Medical Cannabis Treatment in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2023 08; 8(4):642-656.  View on PubMed
  5. Abrams DI. Cannabis, Cannabinoids and Cannabis-Based Medicines in Cancer Care. Integr Cancer Ther. 2022 Jan-Dec; 21:15347354221081772.  View on PubMed
  6. Siani-Rose M, Cox S, Goldstein B, Abrams D, Taylor M, Kurek I. Cannabis-Responsive Biomarkers: A Pharmacometabolomics-Based Application to Evaluate the Impact of Medical Cannabis Treatment on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2023 02; 8(1):126-137.  View on PubMed
  7. Abrams DI, Velasco G, Twelves C, Ganju RK, Bar-Sela G. Cancer Treatment: Preclinical & Clinical. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2021 11 28; 2021(58):107-113.  View on PubMed
  8. Braun IM, Abrams DI, Blansky SE, Pergam SA. Cannabis and the Cancer Patient. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2021 11 28; 2021(58):68-77.  View on PubMed
  9. Cooper ZD, Abrams DI, Gust S, Salicrup A, Throckmorton DC. Challenges for Clinical Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in the United States. J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 2021 11 28; 2021(58):114-122.  View on PubMed
  10. Hill KP, Abrams DI. A cannabis oracle? Delphi method not a substitute for randomized controlled trials of cannabinoids as therapeutics. J Cannabis Res. 2021 Jul 02; 3(1):23.  View on PubMed
  11. Abrams DI. Rolling back reefer madness. Complement Ther Med. 2021 05; 58:102706.  View on PubMed
  12. Balla A, Abrams DI. Questioning the New Drug Enforcement Administration Proposed Rule to Facilitate the Cultivation of Cannabis for Research Purposes. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2020; 5(3):188-190.  View on PubMed
  13. Abrams DI, Couey P, Dixit N, Sagi V, Hagar W, Vichinsky E, Kelly ME, Connett JE, Gupta K. Effect of Inhaled Cannabis for Pain in Adults With Sickle Cell Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2020 07 01; 3(7):e2010874.  View on PubMed
  14. Abrams DI, Guzmán M. Can Cannabis Cure Cancer? JAMA Oncol. 2020 03 01; 6(3):323-324.  View on PubMed
  15. Savoie MB, Paciorek A, Zhang L, Van Blarigan EL, Sommovilla N, Abrams D, Atreya CE, Bergsland EK, Chern H, Kelley RK, Ko A, Laffan A, Sarin A, Varma MG, Venook AP, Van Loon K. Vitamin D Levels in Patients with Colorectal Cancer Before and After Treatment Initiation. J Gastrointest Cancer. 2019 Dec; 50(4):769-779.  View on PubMed
  16. Cooper ZD, Abrams DI. Considering abuse liability and neurocognitive effects of cannabis and cannabis-derived products when assessing analgesic efficacy: a comprehensive review of randomized-controlled studies. Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2019; 45(6):580-595.  View on PubMed
  17. Bonn-Miller MO, Pollack CV, Casarett D, Dart R, ElSohly M, Good L, Guzmán M, Hanuš L, Hill KP, Huestis MA, Marsh E, Sisley S, Skinner N, Spahr J, Vandrey R, Viscusi E, Ware MA, Abrams D. Priority Considerations for Medicinal Cannabis-Related Research. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2019; 4(3):139-157.  View on PubMed
  18. Thompson-Lastad A, Atreya CE, Chao MT, Pollak C, Dhruva A, Santana T, Abrams DI. Improving Access to Integrative Oncology Through Group Medical Visits: A Pilot Implementation Project. J Altern Complement Med. 2019 Jul; 25(7):733-739.  View on PubMed
  19. Abrams DI. Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis? Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2019 06 03; 20(7):59.  View on PubMed
  20. Casarett D, Abrams DI. Why Insurance Companies Should Pay for Medical Cannabis. Am J Bioeth. 2019 Apr; 19(4):8-10.  View on PubMed

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