Shelley R. Adler, PhD

Shelley Adler
Director, UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Osher Foundation Distinguished Professor of Integrative Medicine Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine

Areas of Interest

  • Health equity 
  • Integrative palliative and end-of-life care 
  • Medical education and interprofessional education 
  • Healing narrative
  • Qualitative, ethnographic, and mixed-method study designs; community-based participatory research

Experience and Current Work

Dr. Shelley Adler trained in medical anthropology, sociocultural gerontology, and medical education research. In addition to her role as director of the Osher Center, she is an integrative medicine researcher and educator, examining inequalities and exploring avenues for equity in health and education. Examples of Dr. Adler’s work include: a study of Hmong refugee sudden deaths in California’s Central Valley (culminating in the book, Sleep Paralysis: Night-mares, Nocebos, and the Mind-Body Connection); an investigation of leadership and teamwork among members of interprofessional clinical teams; and integrative palliative care projects to improve quality of life for underserved people at the end of life, as well as their caregivers.

Dr. Adler is also involved in teaching, curriculum development, advising and mentoring, and educational administration and leadership. She co-directs the Osher Center’s research fellowship program and teaches medical student and interprofessional courses in integrative medicine and integrative end-of-life care. Dr. Adler was inducted into the UCSF Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators in 2005 and served as the Osher Center’s director of education from 2008 to 2019. Examples of her work in education include: an interprofessional curriculum in integrative medicine for health professions students; a UCSF-wide study of minority faculty experiences; a training program for direct-care workers supporting people at the end of life; and an interprofessional, standardized patient exercise focused on integrative health, which is required of UCSF students in the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, and the Program in Physical Therapy. 

Education and Training

  • Medical Education Research Fellowship, UCSF 
  • NIH Sociocultural Gerontology Research Fellowship, UCSF 
  • MA, PhD, Folklore and Ethnomedicine, UCLA 
  • BA, English Literature, UC Berkeley


View publications on UCSF Profiles


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