Donald Abrams, MD

Professor Emeritus of Medicine
+1 415 353-9740

Donald I. Abrams, M.D. is an integrative oncologist at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. He was Chief of Hematology-Oncology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General from 2003-2017. 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 UCSF 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 cannabis and distant healing. He is considered to be a pioneer in the investigation of inhaled cannabis, having conducted studies funded by the NIH and the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. His interest in botanical therapies led him to complete a two-year Fellowship in the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in December 2004. He co-edited the Oxford University Press textbook in Integrative Oncology with Andrew Weil, M.D.. Dr. Abrams is a long time member of the NCI PDQ Integrative, Alternative and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board and a past President of the Society of Integrative Oncology.


Rolling back reefer madness.

Complementary therapies in medicine

Effect of Inhaled Cannabis for Pain in Adults With Sickle Cell Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA network open

Abrams DI, Couey P, Dixit N, Sagi V, Hagar W, Vichinsky E, Kelly ME, Connett JE, Gupta K

Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?

JAMA oncology

Abrams DI, Guzmán M

Vitamin D Levels in Patients with Colorectal Cancer Before and After Treatment Initiation.

Journal of gastrointestinal cancer

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

Priority Considerations for Medicinal Cannabis-Related Research.

Cannabis and cannabinoid research

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

Improving Access to Integrative Oncology Through Group Medical Visits: A Pilot Implementation Project.

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)

Thompson-Lastad A, Atreya CE, Chao MT, Pollak C, Dhruva A, Santana T, Abrams DI

Should Oncologists Recommend Cannabis?

Current treatment options in oncology

Abrams DI

Why Insurance Companies Should Pay for Medical Cannabis.

The American journal of bioethics : AJOB

Casarett D, Abrams DI

Pros and Cons of Dietary Strategies Popular Among Cancer Patients.

Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)

Zick SM, Snyder D, Abrams DI

An Integrative Approach to Prostate Cancer.

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)

Abrams DI

Novel tumor markers provide improved prediction of survival after diagnosis of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-related diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Leukemia & lymphoma

Chao C, Silverberg MJ, Chen LH, Xu L, Martínez-Maza O, Abrams DI, Zha HD, Haque R, Said J

A Guide to the National Academy of Science Report on Cannabis: An Exclusive Discussion with Panel Members.

Cannabis and cannabinoid research

Piomelli D, Cooper Z, Abrams D, Grant I, Patel S

A Survey of Licensed Acupuncturists in the San Francisco Bay Area: Prevalence of Treating Oncology Patients.

Integrative cancer therapies

Abrams D, McCulloch M, Cohen M, Liaw M, Silverman D, Wilson C

Perceived Stress in Patients with Common Gastrointestinal Disorders: Associations with Quality of Life, Symptoms and Disease Management.

Explore (New York, N.Y.)

Edman JS, Greeson JM, Roberts RS, Kaufman AB, Abrams DI, Dolor RJ, Wolever RQ

Long-term survival in AIDS-related primary central nervous system lymphoma.


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

Using Medical Cannabis in an Oncology Practice.

Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)

Abrams DI

Patients Receiving Integrative Medicine Effectiveness Registry (PRIMIER) of the BraveNet practice-based research network: study protocol.

BMC complementary and alternative medicine

Dusek JA, Abrams DI, Roberts R, Griffin KH, Trebesch D, Dolor RJ, Wolever RQ, McKee MD, Kligler B

Stromal immune infiltration in HIV-related diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is associated with HIV disease history and patient survival.

AIDS (London, England)

Chao C, Xu L, Silverberg MJ, Martínez-Maza O, Chen LH, Castor B, Abrams DI, Zha HD, Haque R, Said J

Inhaled Cannabis for Chronic Neuropathic Pain: A Meta-analysis of Individual Patient Data.

The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society

Andreae MH, Carter GM, Shaparin N, Suslov K, Ellis RJ, Ware MA, Abrams DI, Prasad H, Wilsey B, Indyk D, Johnson M, Sacks HS

Integrative Medicine Patients Have High Stress, Pain, and Psychological Symptoms.

Explore (New York, N.Y.)

Wolever RQ, Goel NS, Roberts RS, Caldwell K, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Perlman A, Dolor R, Abrams DI

Survival among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected individuals with common non-AIDS-defining cancers.

Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology

Marcus JL, Chao C, Leyden WA, Xu L, Yu J, Horberg MA, Klein D, Towner WJ, Quesenberry CP, Abrams DI, Silverberg MJ

A comparative study of molecular characteristics of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma from patients with and without human immunodeficiency virus infection.

Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Chao C, Silverberg MJ, Xu L, Chen LH, Castor B, Martínez-Maza O, Abrams DI, Zha HD, Haque R, Said J

Prostate cancer incidence and prostate-specific antigen testing among HIV-positive and HIV-negative men.

Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Marcus JL, Chao CR, Leyden WA, Xu L, Klein DB, Horberg MA, Towner WJ, Quesenberry CP, Abrams DI, Van Den Eeden SK, Silverberg MJ

Milking the evidence: diet does matter.

Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Abrams DI

Characteristics of cancer patients presenting to an integrative medicine practice-based research network.

Integrative cancer therapies

Edman JS, Roberts RS, Dusek JA, Dolor R, Wolever RQ, Abrams DI

Non-AIDS-Defining Malignancies in the HIV-Infected Population.

Current infectious disease reports

Wang CC, Silverberg MJ, Abrams DI

Correlating traditional Ayurvedic and modern medical perspectives on cancer: results of a qualitative study.

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)

Dhruva A, Hecht FM, Miaskowski C, Kaptchuk TJ, Bodeker G, Abrams D, Lad V, Adler SR

Non-AIDS defining cancers in the D:A:D Study--time trends and predictors of survival: a cohort study.

BMC infectious diseases

Worm SW, Bower M, Reiss P, Bonnet F, Law M, Fätkenheuer G, d'Arminio Monforte A, Abrams DI, Grulich A, Fontas E, Kirk O, Furrer H, De Wit S, Phillips A, Lundgren JD, Sabin CA

The medicinal use of cannabis and cannabinoids--an international cross-sectional survey on administration forms.

Journal of psychoactive drugs

Hazekamp A, Ware MA, Muller-Vahl KR, Abrams D, Grotenhermen F

The BraveNet prospective observational study on integrative medicine treatment approaches for pain.

BMC complementary and alternative medicine

Abrams DI, Dolor R, Roberts R, Pechura C, Dusek J, Amoils S, Amoils S, Barrows K, Edman JS, Frye J, Guarneri E, Kligler B, Monti D, Spar M, Wolever RQ

It's time for clinicians to reconsider their proscription against the use of soyfoods by breast cancer patients.

Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)

Messina M, Caan BJ, Abrams DI, Hardy M, Maskarinec G

Integrating dietary supplements into cancer care.

Integrative cancer therapies

Frenkel M, Abrams DI, Ladas EJ, Deng G, Hardy M, Capodice JL, Winegardner MF, Gubili JK, Yeung KS, Kussmann H, Block KI

Exposure to antiretroviral therapy and risk of cancer in HIV-infected persons.

AIDS (London, England)

Chao C, Leyden WA, Xu L, Horberg MA, Klein D, Towner WJ, Quesenberry CP, Abrams DI, Silverberg MJ

Patients seek integrative medicine for preventive approach to optimize health.

Explore (New York, N.Y.)

Wolever RQ, Abrams DI, Kligler B, Dusek JA, Roberts R, Frye J, Edman JS, Amoils S, Pradhan E, Spar M, Gaudet T, Guarneri E, Homel P, Amoils S, Lee RA, Berman B, Monti DA, Dolor R

Assessing the Association between Leptin and Bone Mineral Density in HIV-Infected Men.

AIDS research and treatment

Rao MN, Schambelan M, Tai VW, Abrams DI, Khatami H, Havel PJ, Sakkas G, Mulligan K

Epstein-Barr virus infection and expression of B-cell oncogenic markers in HIV-related diffuse large B-cell Lymphoma.

Clinical cancer research : an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research

Chao C, Silverberg MJ, Martínez-Maza O, Chi M, Abrams DI, Haque R, Zha HD, McGuire M, Xu L, Said J

What's the alternative?

The New England journal of medicine

Abrams DI, Weil AT

Yoga breathing for cancer chemotherapy-associated symptoms and quality of life: results of a pilot randomized controlled trial.

Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.)

Dhruva A, Miaskowski C, Abrams D, Acree M, Cooper B, Goodman S, Hecht FM

Massage for children undergoing hematopoietic cell transplantation: a qualitative report.

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM

Ackerman SL, Lown EA, Dvorak CC, Dunn EA, Abrams DI, Horn BN, Degelman M, Cowan MJ, Mehling WE

Hematopoietic cell transplant and use of massage for improved symptom management: results from a pilot randomized control trial.

Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM

Mehling WE, Lown EA, Dvorak CC, Cowan MJ, Horn BN, Dunn EA, Acree M, Abrams DI, Hecht FM

HIV infection, immunodeficiency, viral replication, and the risk of cancer.

Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology

Silverberg MJ, Chao C, Leyden WA, Xu L, Horberg MA, Klein D, Towner WJ, Dubrow R, Quesenberry CP, Neugebauer RS, Abrams DI

HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins) use and risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in HIV-positive persons.

AIDS (London, England)

Chao C, Xu L, Abrams DI, Towner WJ, Horberg MA, Leyden WA, Silverberg MJ

Antihyperlipidemic effects of Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushrooms) in HIV-infected individuals taking antiretroviral therapy.

BMC complementary and alternative medicine

Abrams DI, Couey P, Shade SB, Kelly ME, Kamanu-Elias N, Stamets P

Cannabis in palliative medicine: improving care and reducing opioid-related morbidity.

The American journal of hospice & palliative care

Carter GT, Flanagan AM, Earleywine M, Abrams DI, Aggarwal SK, Grinspoon L

Survival of non-Hodgkin lymphoma patients with and without HIV infection in the era of combined antiretroviral therapy.

AIDS (London, England)

Chao C, Xu L, Abrams D, Leyden W, Horberg M, Towner W, Klein D, Tang B, Silverberg M

Can clinicians now assure their breast cancer patients that soyfoods are safe?

Women's health (London, England)

Messina M, Abrams DI, Hardy M

Not soy simple.

Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology

Abrams DI

New insights into the role of HIV infection on cancer risk.

The Lancet. Oncology

Silverberg MJ, Chao C, Abrams DI

HIV infection and the risk of cancers with and without a known infectious cause.

AIDS (London, England)

Silverberg MJ, Chao C, Leyden WA, Xu L, Tang B, Horberg MA, Klein D, Quesenberry CP, Towner WJ, Abrams DI

Do antiretrovirals reduce the risk of non-AIDS-defining malignancies?

Current opinion in HIV and AIDS

Silverberg MJ, Abrams DI

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals.

Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology

Deng GE, Frenkel M, Cohen L, Cassileth BR, Abrams DI, Capodice JL, Courneya KS, Dryden T, Hanser S, Kumar N, Labriola D, Wardell DW, Sagar S

HIV-induced immunodeficiency and mortality from AIDS-defining and non-AIDS-defining malignancies.

AIDS (London, England)

Monforte Ad, Abrams D, Pradier C, Weber R, Reiss P, Bonnet F, Kirk O, Law M, De Wit S, Friis-Møller N, Phillips AN, Sabin CA, Lundgren JD

Poor initial CD4+ recovery with antiretroviral therapy prolongs immune depletion and increases risk for AIDS and non-AIDS diseases.

Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Baker JV, Peng G, Rapkin J, Krason D, Reilly C, Cavert WP, Abrams DI, MacArthur RD, Henry K, Neaton JD

Review of acupressure studies for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting control.

Journal of pain and symptom management

Lee J, Dodd M, Dibble S, Abrams D

CD4+ count and risk of non-AIDS diseases following initial treatment for HIV infection.

AIDS (London, England)

Baker JV, Peng G, Rapkin J, Abrams DI, Silverberg MJ, MacArthur RD, Cavert WP, Henry WK, Neaton JD

Symptoms, self-care, and quality of life of Chinese American patients with cancer.

Oncology nursing forum

Chou FY, Dodd M, Abrams D, Padilla G

Risk of cancers during interrupted antiretroviral therapy in the SMART study.

AIDS (London, England)

Silverberg MJ, Neuhaus J, Bower M, Gey D, Hatzakis A, Henry K, Hidalgo J, Lourtau L, Neaton JD, Tambussi G, Abrams DI

An overview of integrative oncology.

Clinical advances in hematology & oncology : H&O

Abrams DI

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) effects on HIV replication and host immunity: a randomized placebo-controlled study.

AIDS research and human retroviruses

Abrams DI, Shade SB, Couey P, McCune JM, Lo J, Bacchetti P, Chang B, Epling L, Liegler T, Grant RM

Integrative Oncology Practice Guidelines.

Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology

Deng GE, Cassileth BR, Cohen L, Gubili J, Johnstone PA, Kumar N, Vickers A, Abrams D, Rosenthal D, Sagar S, Tripathy D

The efficacy of distant healing for human immunodeficiency virus--results of a randomized trial.

Alternative therapies in health and medicine

Astin JA, Stone J, Abrams DI, Moore DH, Couey P, Buscemi R, Targ E

Disadvantages of structured treatment interruption persist in patients with multidrug-resistant HIV-1: final results of the CPCRA 064 study.

Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Lawrence J, Hullsiek KH, Thackeray LM, Abrams DI, Crane LR, Mayers DL, Jones MC, Saldanha JM, Schmetter BS, Baxter JD

Contrasts, conflicts, and change: A case in cultural oncology.

The journal of supportive oncology

Dhruva A, Cheng J, Kwong M, Luce JA, Abrams DI

Anemia and HIV in the antiretroviral era: potential significance of testosterone.

AIDS research and human retroviruses

Behler C, Shade S, Gregory K, Abrams D, Volberding P

Medicinal cannabis: rational guidelines for dosing.

IDrugs : the investigational drugs journal

Carter GT, Weydt P, Kyashna-Tocha M, Abrams DI

Nadir CD4+ T cell count predicts response to subcutaneous recombinant interleukin-2.

Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Markowitz N, Bebchuk JD, Abrams DI

Continued CD4 cell count increases in HIV-infected adults experiencing 4 years of viral suppression on antiretroviral therapy.

AIDS (London, England)

Hunt PW, Deeks SG, Rodriguez B, Valdez H, Shade SB, Abrams DI, Kitahata MM, Krone M, Neilands TB, Brand RJ, Lederman MM, Martin JN

Structured treatment interruption in patients with multidrug-resistant human immunodeficiency virus.

The New England journal of medicine

Lawrence J, Mayers DL, Hullsiek KH, Collins G, Abrams DI, Reisler RB, Crane LR, Schmetter BS, Dionne TJ, Saldanha JM, Jones MC, Baxter JD

Short-term effects of cannabinoids in patients with HIV-1 infection: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Annals of internal medicine

Abrams DI, Hilton JF, Leiser RJ, Shade SB, Elbeik TA, Aweeka FT, Benowitz NL, Bredt BM, Kosel B, Aberg JA, Deeks SG, Mitchell TF, Mulligan K, Bacchetti P, McCune JM, Schambelan M

Short-term effects of cannabinoids on immune phenotype and function in HIV-1-infected patients.

Journal of clinical pharmacology

Bredt BM, Higuera-Alhino D, Shade SB, Hebert SJ, McCune JM, Abrams DI

The evaluation of subcutaneous proleukin (interleukin-2) in a randomized international trial: rationale, design, and methods of ESPRIT.

Controlled clinical trials

Emery S, Abrams DI, Cooper DA, Darbyshire JH, Lane HC, Lundgren JD, Neaton JD

The effects of cannabinoids on the pharmacokinetics of indinavir and nelfinavir.

AIDS (London, England)

Kosel BW, Aweeka FT, Benowitz NL, Shade SB, Hilton JF, Lizak PS, Abrams DI

Randomized, open-label study of the impact of two doses of subcutaneous recombinant interleukin-2 on viral burden in patients with HIV-1 infection and CD4+ cell counts of > or = 300/mm3: CPCRA 059.

Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)

Abrams DI, Bebchuk JD, Denning ET, Davey RT, Fox L, Lane HC, Sampson J, Verheggen R, Zeh D, Markowitz NP