Wagahta Semere, MD, MHS

Associate Professor

Dr. Semere is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF in the Division of General Internal Medicine and a primary care provider in the Richard H. Fine People’s Clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. She is trained in health services research, with a background in quantitative, qualitative, and community-based participatory research (CBPR) methods. Dr. Semere's work is focused on developing strategies, informatics-based tools, and using CBPR and computer science to better engage racially/ethnically diverse patients and their caregivers with providers in chronic disease management.

My current work focuses on examining communication between culturally and linguistically diverse patients, their caregivers, and providers. I am analyzing over 400,000 secure messages exchanged over an online patient portal between more than 9,500 ethnically diverse diabetes patients with limited health literacy, their caregivers, and their providers. I have applied machine learning, natural language processing, and novel computational linguistics techniques to characterize secure message communication. As an example, through the application of natural language processing, I have worked with computational linguists to identify caregivers’ “hidden proxy” communication on behalf of patients. We have characterized a socially and medically vulnerable group of patients who rely on proxies.

My research has been supported by an RWJF Clinical Scholar award, a UCSF John A. Watson Faculty Scholar award, a Center for Aging in Diverse Communities grant, and is now supported by an NIH KL2 award with which I am “Leveraging Secure Messaging for Diverse Diabetes Patients and their Caregivers.” I am particularly interested in leveraging technology-based platforms and clinical informatics methods to develop communication tools that promote safe and effective family-centered care.
Certificate, 2020 - Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training, UCSF
MHS, 2016 - Health Services Research, RWJF Clinical Scholars
Residency, Chief Resident, 2013,14 - Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine
MD, 2010 - Medicine, University of Michigan
BSE, 2005 - Biomechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Honors and Awards
  • NIH Loan Repayment Award, NIH, 2021
  • John A. Watson Faculty Scholar, UCSF, 2017
  • Gold Humanism Society, Yale, 2013
  1. El Ayadi AM, Mitchell A, Nalubwama H, Miller S, Semere W, Barageine JK, Korn AP, Obore S, Lucas R, Byamugisha J. The social, economic, emotional, and physical experiences of caregivers for women with female genital fistula in Uganda: A qualitative study. Global public health 2023. PMID: 37671506

  2. Semere W, Althouse AD, Arnold R, White D, Smith TJ, Chu E, Rosenzweig MQ, Schenker Y. Examining Caregiver Outcomes in the CONNECT Intervention for Patients with Advanced Cancer. Journal of pain and symptom management 2022. PMID: 36503155

  3. Semere W, Makaroun LK, Beach S, Schillinger D, Rosland AM. Family caregivers navigating the health care system: Evolving roles during the COVID-19 pandemic. "It's not the doctor - it's me." How self-blame obscures language and other structural barriers to diabetes care mong low-income Latinos with limited English Proficiency. 2022. PMID: 35549487

  4. Semere W, Kaplan L, Valle K, Guzman D, Ramsey C, Garcia C, Kushel M. Caregiving Needs Are Unmet for Many Older Homeless Adults: Findings from the HOPE HOME Study. "It's not the doctor - it's me." How self-blame obscures language and other structural barriers to diabetes care mong low-income Latinos with limited English Proficiency. 2022. PMID: 35167064

  5. Semere W, Cemballi AG, Schillinger D, Casillas A, Lemberg M, Lyles CR. "We need to bring them out from the shadows:" A qualitative study of safety net physician leaders' perspectives on caregivers. "It's not the doctor - it's me." How self-blame obscures language and other structural barriers to diabetes care mong low-income Latinos with limited English Proficiency. 2021. PMID: 34756473

  6. Cemballi AG, Karter AJ, Schillinger D, Liu JY, McNamara DS, Brown W, Crossley S, Semere W, Reed M, Allen J, Lyles CR. Descriptive examination of secure messaging in a longitudinal cohort of diabetes patients in the ECLIPPSE study. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA 2020. PMID: 33236117

  7. Semere W, Althouse AD, Rosland AM, White D, Arnold R, Chu E, Smith TJ, Schenker Y. Poor patient health is associated with higher caregiver burden for older adults with advanced cancer. Journal of geriatric oncology 2021. PMID: 33478890

  8. Brown W, Balyan R, Karter AJ, Crossley S, Semere W, Duran ND, Lyles C, Liu J, Moffet HH, Daniels R, McNamara DS, Schillinger D. Challenges and Solutions to Employing Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to Measure Patients' Health Literacy and Physician Writing Complexity: The ECLIPPSE Study. Journal of biomedical informatics 2020. PMID: 33316421

  9. Casillas A, Cemballi AG, Abhat A, Lemberg M, Portz JD, Sadasivaiah S, Ratanawongsa N, Semere W, Brown A, Lyles CR. An Untapped Potential in Primary Care: Semi-Structured Interviews with Clinicians on How Patient Portals Will Work for Caregivers in the Safety Net. Journal of medical Internet research 2020. PMID: 32706709

  10. Semere W, Crossley S, Karter AJ, Lyles CR, Brown W, Reed M, McNamara DS, Liu JY, Schillinger D. Secure Messaging with Physicians by Proxies for Patients with Diabetes: Findings from the ECLIPPSE Study. Journal of general internal medicine 2019. PMID: 31428986

  11. Semere W, Nápoles AM, Gregorich S, Livaudais-Toman J, Karliner L. Caregiving for Older Adults with Limited English Proficiency: Transitioning from Hospital to Home. Volume 34 of Issue 9. Journal of general internal medicine 2019. PMID: 31236893

  12. Warden C, Yun K, Semere W. Using the Children with Special Health Care Needs Screener with Immigrant Families: An Analysis of the National Survey of Children's Health. Volume 21 of Issue 1. Journal of immigrant and minority health 2019. PMID: 29603087

  13. Semere W, Agrawal P, Yun K, Di Bartolo I, Annamalai A, Ross JS. Factors Associated with Refugee Acute Healthcare Utilization in Southern Connecticut. Volume 20 of Issue 2. Journal of immigrant and minority health 2018. PMID: 28382427

  14. Semere W, Yun K, Ahalt C, Williams B, Wang EA. Challenges in Identifying Refugees in National Health Data Sets. American journal of public health 2016. PMID: 27196649

  15. Semere W, Karamanoukian HL, Levitt M, Edwards T, Murero M, D'Ancona G, Donias HW, Glick PL. A pediatric surgery study: parent usage of the Internet for medical information. Volume 38 of Issue 4. Journal of pediatric surgery 2003. PMID: 12677566

  16. Semere WG, Edwards TM, Boyd D, Barsoumian R, Murero M, Donias HW, Karamanoukian HL. The world wide web and robotic heart surgery. Volume 6 of Issue 6. The heart surgery forum 2003. PMID: 14721995