Nynikka Palmer, DrPH, MPH

Assistant Professor

Dr. Nynikka Palmer received her undergraduate training from Morgan State University, where she obtained a degree in health education with honors. She then earned a master’s degree in public health from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and subsequently worked for 3 years at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia collaborating with community organizations on cancer education and early detection in minority and underserved communities. Dr. Palmer then earned a doctorate in public health, in behavioral sciences and health promotion from the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston. During her doctoral program, she was a pre-doctoral fellow in an NCI-sponsored cancer prevention and control training program. She extended her training in cancer with a focus on cancer survivorship and health disparities as a postdoctoral fellow on an NCI-sponsored training award at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Palmer was recruited to join the faculty at UCSF in 2013 to further establish her research in cancer health disparities. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor, with a primary appointment in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (ZSFGH) and secondary appointments in Urology and Radiation Oncology. Dr. Palmer is also an Associate member of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and an Associate Faculty member of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at ZSFGH.

Dr. Palmer’s research is grounded in cancer disparities and has progressed over the years to focus on racial/ethnic and geographic disparities (e.g., rural/urban) in cancer, challenges faced by male cancer survivors, prostate cancer in African American men, and quality cancer care. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she examined racial/ethnic disparities in health care receipt among male cancer survivors, rural/urban disparities in cancer survivors forgoing care because of cost, and racial/ethnic disparities in patient-provider communication, quality of care ratings, and patient activation among long-term cancer survivors. Dr. Palmer is particularly interested in prostate cancer among African American men, and has examined African American prostate cancer survivors’ treatment decision-making and their subsequent quality of life. Findings from these studies have directed her research agenda to further understand and examine quality of care and patient-provider communication among African American men with prostate cancer, particularly in low-income communities. Dr. Palmer’s long-term goal is to move beyond identifying cancer disparities to developing, implementing, and disseminating interventions and programs that will ultimately reduce the burden of cancer among vulnerable populations.
DrPH, 2010 - School of Public Health, University of Texas Health Science Center
MPH, 2002 - Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University
BS, 2000 - , Morgan State University
Honors and Awards
  • School of Medicine Inaugural Class of Dean’s Population Health and Healthy Equity (PHHE) Scholars, University of California San Francisco, 2018
  • Health Disparities Research Loan Repayment Program, National Institutes of Health – National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, 2016-2017
  • CTSI KL2 Scholar Award, University of California San Francisco, 2016-2017
  • Helen Diller Family Chair in Community Education and Outreach for Urologic Cancer, University of California San Francisco, 2016
  • Center for Aging in Diverse Communities Scholar Award, University of California San Francisco, 2015-2016
  • Distinguished Honoree of the Black Student Health Alliance - 2nd Annual African Heritage Celebration, University of California San Francisco, 2015
  • Health Disparities Research Loan Repayment Program, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities - National Institutes of Health, 2013-2015
  • Doctoral Dissertation Research Award, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, 2010
  • Excellence in Community Outreach, American Cancer Society, 2004
  • Doctoral Application Support Award, Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research, Northern California Cancer Center, 2003
  1. Cancer health disparities in racial/ethnic minorities in the United States.
  2. Ethnographic investigation of patient-provider communication among African American men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer: a study protocol.
  3. Rural cancer survivors' health information needs post-treatment.
  4. Defining and Measuring Adherence in Observational Studies Assessing Outcomes of Real-world Active Surveillance for Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review.
  5. Minority Recruitment Trends in Phase III Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials (2003 to 2014): Progress and Critical Areas for Improvement.
  6. Differential use of medical versus surgical androgen deprivation therapy for patients with metastatic prostate cancer.
  7. A bilingual, Internet-based, targeted advertising campaign for prostate cancer clinical trials: Assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a novel recruitment strategy.
  8. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Prostate Cancer Survivors' Perceived Engagement in Treatment Decision-Making.
  9. The San Francisco Cancer Initiative: A Community Effort To Reduce The Population Burden Of Cancer.
  10. Family history of prostate and colorectal cancer and risk of colorectal cancer in the Women's health initiative.
  11. Outcomes of men on active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer at a safety-net hospital.
  13. Disparities in barriers to follow-up care between African American and White breast cancer survivors.
  14. Familial clustering of breast and prostate cancer and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in the Women's Health Initiative Study.
  15. Racial and ethnic disparities in patient-provider communication, quality-of-care ratings, and patient activation among long-term cancer survivors.
  16. Impact of rural residence on forgoing healthcare after cancer because of cost.
  17. Racial/Ethnic disparities in health care receipt among male cancer survivors.
  18. Rural-urban differences in health behaviors and implications for health status among US cancer survivors.
  19. Transitioning from active treatment: colorectal cancer survivors' health promotion goals.
  20. African American prostate cancer survivors' treatment decision-making and quality of life.
  21. Comparative effectiveness of goal setting in diabetes mellitus group clinics: randomized clinical trial.
  22. What is the evidence for pharmaceutical patient assistance programs? A systematic review.