Division of General Internal Medicine

Chinazo O. Cunningham, M.D., M.S.

Dr. Chinazo O. Cunningham

Professor, Department of Medicine (General Internal Medicine)

Professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine

Director of Diversity Affairs for the Department of Medicine, Department of Medicine


Professional Interests


Chinazo Cunningham, MD, MS, Associate Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has spent over a decade providing care, developing programs, and conducting research focused on marginalized populations including drug users, HIV-infected individuals, and the unstably housed.  While on faculty at Einstein, she has collaborated with community-based organizations to develop unique and innovative programs to deliver health care to these marginalized populations. Parallel with program development, her research has focused on improving access to care, utilization of health care services, and health outcomes.  Dr. Cunningham has been the principal investigator on numerous grants funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Services and Resources Administration (HRSA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Agency (SAMHSA), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and local and state Departments of Health.

Prior to becoming faculty at Einstein, Dr. Cunningham received her undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, her medical degree from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and completed her residency in primary care internal medicine at UCSF and New York University (NYU), followed by a year of chief residency at NYU.  While at Einstein, she received her master’s degree in clinical research methods.



1. Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Barriers to Opioid Addiction Treatment with Buprenorphine

Dr. Cunningham received support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program. This 4-year research award is given to historically disadvantaged physicians who are committed to research, academic medicine, and improving the health of underserved populations..

2. Dr. Cunningham has joined, by invitation, the Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section at the Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, for the term beginning July, 2012 and ending June 30, 2018.

Study section members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors.  Membership on a study section represents a unique opportunity to contribute to the national biomedical research effort. Study sections review grant applications submitted to the NIH, make recommendations on these applications to the appropriate NIH national advisory council or board, and survey the status of research in their fields of science.


Selected Publications

Cunningham WE, Sohler NL, Tobias C, Drainoni ML, Bradford J, Davis C, Cabral HJ, Cunningham CO, Eldred L, Wong MD. Health Services Utilization for People with HIV Infection: A Comparison of a Population Targeted for Outreach with the U.S. Population in Care. Medical Care. 2006 Nov;44(11):1038-1047.

Cunningham CO, Sohler NL, Ramsey K, Li X. A comparison of HIV-related utilization measures in a marginalized population: Self-report versus medical record information. Medical Care. 2007 Mar;45(3):264-268.

Cunningham CO, Sohler NL, Wong MD, Relf M, Cunningham WE, Drainoni ML, Bradford J, Pounds M, Cabral H. Utilization of Health Care Services in HIV-Infected Marginalized Populations Enrolled in Outreach Programs. AIDS Patient Care STDs. 2007;21(3):177-186.

Cabral HJ, Tobias C, Rajabiun S, Sohler NL, Cunningham CO, Wong MD, Cunningham WE. Outreach program contacts: Do they increase the likelihood of engagement and retention in HIV primary care for hard-to-reach patients?  AIDS Patient Care STDs. 2007 Jun;21(S1):S59-S56.

Cunningham CO, Kunins HV, Roose RJ, Elam RT, Sohler NL. Barriers to Obtaining Waivers to Prescribe Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction Treatment Among HIV Physicians. J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Sep;22(9):1325-9. Epub 2007 Jul 10. PMC2219773

Cunningham CO, Sanchez JP, Heller D, Sohler NL. Assessment of a medical outreach program to improve access to HIV care among marginalized individuals. Am J Public Health. 2007 Oct;97(10):1758-61. Epub 2007 Aug 29. PMC1994196

Cunningham CO, Giovanniello A, Sacajiu G, Whitley S, Mund P, Beil R, Sohler NL. Buprenorphine treatment in an urban community health center: What to expect. Fam Med. 2008 Jul-Aug;40(7):500-6. PMC2840630

Cunningham CO, Doran B, DeLuca J, Dyksterhouse R, Asgary R, Sacajiu G. Routine opt-out HIV testing in an urban community health center. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2009 Aug;23(8):619-23. PMC2832648

Sohler NL, Li X, Kunins HV, Sacajiu G, Giovanniello A, Whitley S, Cunningham CO. Home- versus office-based buprenorphine inductions for opioid-dependent patients. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2010 Mar;38(2):153-9. Epub 2009 Oct 3. PMC2849656

Whitley S, Sohler NL, Kunins HV, Giovanniello A, Li X, Sacajiu G, Cunningham CO. Factors associated with complicated buprenorphine inductions. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2010 Jul;39(1):51-7.

Cunningham CO, Sohler NL, Cooperman NA, Berg KM, Litwin AH, Arnsten JH. Strategies to improve access to and utilization of health care services and adherence to antiretroviral therapy among HIV-infected drug users. Subst Use Misuse. 2011;46(2-3):218-32. PMC3150583

Altice FL, Bruce RD, Lucas GM, Lum PJ, Korthius PT, Flanigan TP, Cunningham CO, et al. HIV treatment outcomes among HIV-infected opioid dependent patients receiving buprenorphine/naloxone treatment in HIV care setting: Results from a multi-site study. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2011 Mar 1;56 Suppl 1:S22-32. PMC3263431

Fiellin DA, Weiss L, Botsko M, Egan JE, Altice FL, Bazerman L, Chaudhry A, Cunningham CO, et al. Drug treatment outcomes among HIV-infected, opioid-dependent patients receiving buprenorphine/naloxone. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2011 Mar 1;56 Suppl 1:S33-8.

Cunningham CO, Giovanniello A, Li X, Kunins HV, Roose RJ, Sohler NL. A comparison of buprenorphine induction strategies: patient-centered home-based inductions versus standard-of-care office-based inductions. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2011 Jun;40(4):349-56. Epub 2011 Feb 18. PMC3081891.

Starrels JL, Fox AD, Kunins HK, Cunningham CO. They don’t know what they don’t know: Internal medicine residents’ knowledge and confidence in urine drug test interpretation for patients with chronic pain.  J General Int Med. 2012 Jul 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Fox AD, Sohler NL, Ning Y, Starrels JL, Giovanniello A, Cunningham CO. Pain is not associated with worse office-based buprenorphine treatment outcomes. Subst Abuse. In press.

Cunningham CO, Giovanniello A, Kunins HV, Roose RJ, Fox AD, Sohler NL. Buprenorphine treatment outcomes among opioid-dependent cocaine users and non-users. American Journal on Addictions. In press.

Cunningham CO, Roose RJ, Starrels JL, Giovanniello A, Sohler NL. Prior buprenorphine experience is associated with office-based buprenorphine treatment outcomes. J Addict Med. In press.


Material in this section is provided by individual faculty members who are solely responsible for its accuracy and content.


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Media Coverage

CBS News interviews Dr. Chinazo Cunningham about the growing problem of opioid painkiller abuse and addiction.

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