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/NIDA, Sponsor Award ID: R21DA020831
  • September 30, 1989 - March 31, 2007 - COMMUNITY CONSORTIUM (CPCRA), Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NIAID, Sponsor Award ID: U01AI042169
  • October 1, 1974 - September 29, 2006 - General Clinical Research Center, Co-Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NCRR, Sponsor Award ID: M01RR000083
  • September 15, 2003 - May 31, 2006 - Antihyperlipidemic Effects of Oyster Mushrooms, Principal Investigator. Sponsor: NIH/NCCIH, 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. Abrams DI Rolling back reefer madness.  View on PubMed
  2. Balla A, Abrams DI Questioning the New Drug Enforcement Administration Proposed Rule to Facilitate the Cultivation of Cannabis for Research Purposes.  View on PubMed
  3. 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.  View on PubMed
  4. Abrams DI, Guzmán M Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?  View on PubMed
  5. 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.  View on PubMed
  6. 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.  View on PubMed
  7. 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.  View on PubMed
  8. 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.  View on PubMed
  9. Abrams DI Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?  View on PubMed
  10. Casarett D, Abrams DI Why Insurance Companies Should Pay for Medical Cannabis.  View on PubMed
  11. Zick SM, Snyder D, Abrams DI Pros and Cons of Dietary Strategies Popular Among Cancer Patients.  View on PubMed
  12. Abrams DI An Integrative Approach to Prostate Cancer.  View on PubMed
  13. Abrams DI The therapeutic effects of Cannabis and cannabinoids: An update from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report.  View on PubMed
  14. Chao C, Silverberg MJ, Chen LH, Xu L, Martínez-Maza O, Abrams DI, Zha HD, Haque R, Said J Novel tumor markers provide improved prediction of survival after diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.  View on PubMed
  15. Piomelli D, Cooper Z, Abrams D, Grant I, Patel S A Guide to the National Academy of Science Report on Cannabis: An Exclusive Discussion with Panel Members.  View on PubMed
  16. Abrams D, McCulloch M, Cohen M, Liaw M, Silverman D, Wilson C A Survey of Licensed Acupuncturists in the San Francisco Bay Area: Prevalence of Treating Oncology Patients.  View on PubMed
  17. Edman JS, Greeson JM, Roberts RS, Kaufman AB, Abrams DI, Dolor RJ, Wolever RQ Perceived Stress in Patients with Common Gastrointestinal Disorders: Associations with Quality of Life, Symptoms and Disease Management.  View on PubMed
  18. Gupta NK, Nolan A, Omuro A, Reid EG, Wang CC, Mannis G, Jaglal M, Chavez JC, Rubinstein PG, Griffin A, Abrams DI, Hwang J, Kaplan LD, Luce JA, Volberding P, Treseler PA, Rubenstein JL Long-term survival in AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma.  View on PubMed
  19. Abrams DI Using Medical Cannabis in an Oncology Practice.  View on PubMed
  20. Abrams DI Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care.  View on PubMed

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