top of page


Our mission is to create better health outcomes for all people who use substances through studying and supporting pharmacologic, behavioral, and system interventions addressing substance use and related health outcomes.


The Center on Substance Use and Health (CSUH) at the San Francisco Department of Public Health was originally the Research Unit of the HIV-Prevention Section. Projects were focused on how to reduce HIV infections related to substance use. The original director, Dr. Grant Colfax, was appointed by President Obama to lead the National HIV/AIDS strategy in 2012 and returned in 2019 to direct the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Dr. Phillip Coffin took the helm in 2012 and the team was renamed the Substance Use Research Unit. The portfolio was expanded to include additional health issues affecting people who use substances, including several substance use disorders, hepatitis C virus, and drug overdose. CSUH has further expanded to include studies related to opioid therapy for chronic pain and supporting primary care. Investigators include Drs. Coffin, Santos, and McMahan as well as trainees and visiting scholars. Our work honors San Francisco values and is founded on the core elements of harm reduction. We proudly serve all sexual orientations, races/ethnicities, and gender identities.

bottom of page