Dean Schillinger, M.D. (UCSF)

Professor of Medicine in Residence and a primary care physician at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH), University California, San Francisco

Dean Schillinger, M.D. is UCSF Professor of Medicine in Residence and a primary care physician at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH). He serves as Chief of the UCSF Division of General Internal Medicine at SFGH and directs the Health Communications Research Program in the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations. Dr. Schillinger served as Chief Medical Officer for the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program for California from 2008-13. In 2016, he founded and directs the Special Populations Initiative of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, whose overarching objective is to enhance the quality and quantity of translational research involving under-represented groups, e.g. socially vulnerable populations, pediatric populations, and geriatric populations. He previously directed the ambulatory care clinics at SFGH. He co-directs a national course on Medical Care of Vulnerable and Underserved Patients. He has been awarded grants from NIH, AHRQ, CDC and private foundations to develop and evaluate care management programs tailored to the literacy and language needs of patients with chronic disease and has published over 170 peer-reviewed scientific articles in the field of health communication science.  In 2016, he was awarded a James L Irvine Leadership Award for his innovative work in California to improve public health literacy and address the epidemic of Type 2 diabetes.  


Dr. Schillinger is a leading scientific and public health expert on the root causes of the global diabetes epidemic and has been instrumental in engaging the scientific community in the critical policy discourse related to the dangers of unmitigated added sugar consumption. He served as the scientific expert for the City and County of San Francisco in the successful defense of a lawsuit filed in Federal Court by the American Beverage Association for an injunction against a city ordinance to mandate health warning labels on billboards advertising sugary drinks. As a result of the City’s successful defense, the first sugary drink warning label law in the world will go into effect in 2017 (1) requiring health warnings on advertisements for sodas and other sugary drinks (2) banning such advertising on city property and (3) prohibiting the city from spending money on sugary drinks. Dr. Schillinger has recently authored a number of widely-read original investigations as well as influential public health policy pieces in the Annals of Internal Medicine and JAMA that describe how the sugary beverage industry has been manipulating disparate elements of the scientific process to undermine scientific claims of their products’ health consequences and to create controversy regarding the scientific basis for placing dietary limits on added sugars.  To directly engage the affected communities in the emerging crisis of Type 2 diabetes in America’s children, Dr. Schillinger co-created a minority youth-led public health literacy campaign to prevent diabetes that employs social media and spoken word, The Bigger Picture (, which was highlighted at a 2013 IOM Health Literacy Policy Roundtable event and was awarded the Spirit of 1848 Award from the American Public Health Association in 2014. An innovative marriage of Public Health and the Arts,  The Bigger Picture  has been evaluated by his team, and results demonstrate its positive impacts on minority youth and youth stakeholders. The Bigger Picture campaign has had >1.5 million views to date, has been adopted by 3 California counties for their initiatives to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, and was influential in the passage of sugary drink taxation policies in 4 Bay Area municipalities through its engagement of minority voters. In 2016, Dr. Schillinger received the prestigious James Irvine Leadership Award of California for his groundbreaking work in advancing the public health literacy of Californians with respect to the diabetes epidemic.  


  • Schillinger D, Jacobson M. Science and Public Health on Trial: Warning Notices on Advertisements for Sugary Drinks. JAMA. 2016 Oct 18;316(15):1545-1546
  • Schillinger D, Tran J, Mangurian C, Kearns C. Do Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Cause Obesity and Diabetes? Industry and the Manufacture of Scientific Controversy. Ann Intern Med. 2016 Nov 1. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Rogers EA, Fine SC, Handley MA, Davis HB, Kass J, Schillinger D. Engaging Minority Youth in Diabetes Prevention Efforts Through a Participatory, Spoken-Word Social Marketing Campaign. Am J Health Promot. 2016 Jan 5. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Ratanawongsa N, Barton JL, Lyles CR, Wu M, Yelin EH, Martinez D, Schillinger D. Association Between Clinician Computer Use and Communication with Patients in Safety-Net Clinics. JAMA Intern Med. 2016 Jan 1;176(1):125-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6168.
  • Mangurian C, Newcomer JW, Vittinghoff E, Creasman JM, Knapp P, Dilley J, Fuentes-Afflick E, Lee B, Schillinger D. Diabetes screening Among underserved adults with severe mental illness who take antipsychotic medications. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Dec 1;175(12):1977-9. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.6098.