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Shelley Adler, PhD, Appointed as New Director of the Osher Center

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Published: 12/19/2016



Dean Talmadge E. King, Jr., MD, announced the appointment of Shelley Adler, PhD, as the new director of the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, effective December 1. Dr. Adler was selected after a national search. She has served as interim director since May 2015.

Dr. Adler is trained in medical anthropology, sociocultural gerontology, and medical education research. She received her BA in English, summa cum laude, from UC Berkeley; master’s degree and doctorate from UCLA; and a graduate fellowship in anthropology from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has also completed both the UCSF Teaching Scholars Program and Medical Education Research Fellowship. Since becoming a UCSF faculty member in 1995, she has held appointments in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics/Division of Medical Anthropology and the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine. Currently, she is a professor in residence in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Dr. Adler is internationally recognized as a leader in integrative medicine education. As a champion of collaboration, she is an outstanding educator and mentor. She is director of education at the Osher Center, co-director of its NIH Research Fellowship in Integrative Medicine, and a member of the Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators. Dr. Adler has had significant leadership roles in medical education, including director of the Social Sciences in Medicine area of concentration and co-director of the Pathway to Discovery in Health and Society, as well as prominent leadership positions in the new Bridges curriculum, including co-chair of the Foundational Sciences Steering and Oversight Committees and director of the Health & the Individual and Health & Society blocks. In addition to her educational leadership at UCSF, Dr. Adler has served as director of education at Zen Hospice Project.

Under Dr. Adler’s interim leadership, the Bernard Osher Foundation named the UCSF Osher Center as the site of the Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine Coordinating Center. This international center will serve as a collaborative hub for the five Osher Centers (UCSF, Harvard University-Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Karolinska Institute, Northwestern University, and Vanderbilt University) and is designed to facilitate clinical, educational, and research progress in integrative medicine.

Dr. Adler’s research has focused on integrative medicine, the illness experience, and medical and interprofessional education. She has served as principal investigator or Co-PI for 25 grants (10 funded by NIH), and is best known for her work on doctor-patient communication in integrative medicine, interprofessional teamwork, treatment decision making, and enhancing quality of life at the end of life. She is the author of Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection, published by Rutgers University Press.

Dr. Adler is a committed advocate for equity, inclusion, and diversity, through teaching and mentoring that addresses the needs of diverse learners; providing accessible care for underserved populations; and conducting research that makes progress towards health equity. She has created and participated in several ongoing UCSF efforts for the Osher Center staff and faculty, the School of Medicine, and—through her position on the Differences Matter executive advisory board—the campus as a whole. Dr. Adler was honored as a UCSF Champion of Diversity in 2007.

Dean King recognized Margaret Chesney, PhD, for her leadership and service as director. From 2009 to May 2015, Dr. Chesney oversaw programs in integrative medicine research, education, and patient care and developed partnerships within UCSF and at the local and national level to advance integrative medicine.