Facilitate multidisciplinary research that will provide comprehensive understanding of problems of health, illness and health care.


About the Center

The Center for Health and Community (CHC) aims to improve individual and population health through research and teaching addressing the social, behavioral and policy aspects of health and health care.   Its unique structure supports and links faculty from all four Schools whose work addresses this wide range of determinants of health and also houses its own programs of research and education in focal areas.

CHC’s 200+ members represent both basic and applied social and behavioral scientists in epidemiology, health policy, anthropology, psychology, sociology, history, informatics, bioethics, economics, and clinical research.   CHC members share an awareness that we cannot isolate physical diseases from our emotions, behaviors, and the experiences linked to where we live, work, and play.  We encourage and support multidisciplinary collaborations designed to promote comprehensive approaches to health problems, and to bridge the gap between biomedical and social science.

CHC researchers aim not only to improve overall health, but also to reduce disparities in health between more- and less-advantaged groups to achieve greater “health equity”.   We bring a variety of theories and methods to bear on this problem. Our work includes lab-based basic studies of causal mechanisms, observational research linking social exposures to health outcomes, intervention research testing innovative approaches, implementation research to improve uptake of successful interventions, and dissemination of new knowledge and approaches.

More than half of premature deaths can be prevented through changes in behavior, environment, and socioeconomic factors-a fact that has been largely ignored by traditional medicine. The Center places special research emphasis on the human side of health care, on who the patient is rather than what disease the patient has.

CHC and its members play important roles in training the next generation of clinicians and researchers to recognize and address social, behavioral and policy determinants of health.  In the School of Medicine, for example, we have developed innovative curricula for both pre-clinical and clinical years for physicians to promote their understanding of the contributions of non-biological factors to health, disease, and recovery and prepares them to work in a complex socio-political professional environment that crosses traditional boundaries.


Statement from the UCSF Center for Health and Community on Institutional Racism

The UCSF Center for Health and Community (CHC) is committed to achieving health equity for all people and communities. Achieving that vision requires universal access to opportunities and resources needed to live a full and healthy life. Recent events have shown us how far away the country is from that vision, particularly in relation to the health and wellbeing of Black Americans.

The murder of George Floyd brought to the forefront the shameful legacy of institutional racism and its ripple effects. This legacy is evident in the unconscionable acts of violence and intimidation of police against the Black community and the failure of the justice system to right these and other wrongs. It also resides in economic policies that create income and wealth differentials, exclusionary zoning regulations which foster residential segregation and inadequate housing, and in school practices that hinder educational attainment by Black children. And it is seen in disparities in access and quality of medical care, resulting in a distressingly unequal burden of diseases, including COVID-19.

Black lives matter to the many CHC members whose research seeks to understand and address key social forces that explain why Black Americans live with a greater burden of disease and die younger than those who hold more power and privilege. One of the lessons of the past few weeks is that diverse social factors are interconnected and need to be understood as inherent parts of structural racism.

Social psychologist Kurt Lewin observed that the first step in social change involves rejecting prior beliefs and actions, a process he termed “unfreezing”. Unfreezing an existing equilibrium allows for expression of new ideas and approaches and establishment of a more progressive equilibrium. In the midst of difficult and disturbing events that have occurred over the past few weeks, there have also been inklings of possible unfreezing of institutional racism and the emergence of new attitudes, behaviors and policies. CHC is committed to advancing meaningful change and forging a new equilibrium based on respect, inclusion, and equity.

Partnership Opportunities

We want to give you this opportunity to acquaint yourself with the excellence and innovation offered by the Center for Health and Community. If you concur with our belief in the importance of the human side of health care, your support can make a tangible contribution to our continued growth.


The Center for Health and Community is supported by the UCSF Foundation, a nonprofit corporation that raises funds to advance the interests of the University of California, San Francisco.


To learn more about giving to the CHC, visit the UCSF Foundation online at Support for Community.