Division of General Internal Medicine

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

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

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

Associate Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Director of Research Resources, Department of Medicine

Director, General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program, Department of Medicine

Areas of Research: Improving access to care and health outcomes among drug users with or at-risk for HIV; buprenorphine treatment in primary care settings; opioid use, misuse, and addiction; collaborating with community-based organization

Professional Interests


Chinazo Cunningham, MD, MS 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 NIH, CDC, HRSA, SAMHSA, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and local and state Departments of Health. In addition to her own research, she has mentored over 20 trainees to conduct clinical research, resulting in several NIH-funded grants led by her trainees. Dr. Cunningham has served on numerous national advisory committees, including serving as the Chair of NY State Department of Health AIDS Institute’s Substance Abuse Committee, a member of the NIH Office of AIDS Research’s Racial and Ethnic Populations Committee, and a member of the NIH’s Behavioral and Social Consequences of HIV/AIDS Study Section. 

In addition to her research, Dr. Cunningham serves in leadership roles at Einstein. She is the Associate Chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine, in which she directs research activities and resources. She is also the founding Director of the General Internal Medicine Fellowship Program. Finally, she is the Director of Diversity Affairs within the Department of Medicine.

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.

3. Dr. Cunningham was selected as a Fellow in the Hedwig van Ameringen Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine® (ELAM) Program, class of 2014-2015. 

ELAM® is the only program in North America dedicated to preparing women for senior leadership roles in academic health science institutions, where they enhance institutional leadership diversity while contributing to organizational strategy and innovation. www.drexelmed.edu/elam


Selected Publications

For a comprehensive list of publications, see the PubMed link above. Below are a selection of 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 theU.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.

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

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 Gen Intern Med. 2012 Nov;27(11):1521-7. PMC3475838

Fox AD, Sohler NL, Ning Y, Starrels JL, Giovanniello A, Cunningham CO. Pain is not associated with worse office-based buprenorphine treatment outcomes. Subst Abus. 2012 Oct;33(4):361-5. PMC3447624

Bachhuber MA, Cunningham CO. Availability of buprenorphine on the Internet for purchase without a prescription. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013 Jun 1;130(1-3):238-40. PMC3600391

Kunins HV, Sohler NL, Giovanniello A, Thompson D, Cunningham CO.  Implementation and evaluation of a buprenorphine education and training program for primary care internal medicine residents. Subst Abus. 2013;34(3):242-7. PMC3799907

Bachhuber MA, Cunningham CO.  Changes over time in offering on-site testing for HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and hepatitis C virus in opioid treatment programs. JAMA. 2013 Dec 25;310(24):2671-2. PMC4038104

Fox AD, Shah P, Sohler NL, Lopez C, Cunningham CO. I heard it from a friend: Assessing interest in buprenorphine treatment. Subst Abus. 2014;35(1):74-9. PMC3942801

Cunningham CO, Buck J, Shaw F, Seigal L, Agins B. Factors associated with returning to HIV care after a gap in New York State. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Aug 1;66(4):419-27. NIHMSID 585632

Bachhuber MA, Southern WN, Cunningham CO. Profiting and providing less care: comprehensive services at for-profit, nonprofit, and public opioid treatment programs in the United States. Med Care. 2014 May;52(5):428-34. NIHMSID 566058

Felsen UR, Bellin EY, Cunningham CO, Zingman BS. Development of an electronic medical record-based algorithm to identify patients with unknown HIV status. AIDS Care. 2014 Oct;26(10):1318-25. PMC4095997

Bachhuber MA, Saloner B, Cunningham CO, Barry SL. Medical cannabis laws and opioid pain reliever overdose mortality in the United States, 1999-2010. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Oct 1;174(10):1668-73.


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

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Research Information

Media Coverage

The Daily News interviews Dr. Chinazo Cunningham about treating drug addiction as a chronic disease, rather than a moral failing.

Los Angeles Times interviews Dr. Chinazo Cunningham about buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, for an article on Prince’s death.

More media coverage

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