Laura A. Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH


Laura Schmidt, PhD, is a Professor of Health Policy in the School of Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. She holds a joint appointment in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Anthropology, History and Social Medicine. Dr. Schmidt is also Co-Director of the Community Engagement and Health Policy Program for UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. She received her PhD training in sociology at UC Berkeley and while there, completed doctoral coursework in public health, and also holds a masters degree in clinical social work. 

Dr. Schmidt's central goal is to bridge the worlds of biomedical research, clinical practice and population health in ways that help us better understand some of the most pressing issues in health and health care today: the widening of health disparities and the societal of regulation risk factors in chronic disease. Substantive areas of her research include addiction, poverty, obesity-related metabolic disease—all burdens that are profoundly influenced by the organization of care and the social environment. A hallmark of her research is blended methodologies: she incorporates historical-archival, ethnographic and quantitative methods into most of her studies as a way to cross-validate findings and better interpret their meaning. Since its inception, her research program has been stably funded through awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in combination with funding from private foundations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), Commonwealth Fund, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Laura & John Arnold Foundation.


Laura A. Schmidt, Patel A, Brindis CD, Lustig RH.“Towards Evidence-Based Policies for Reduction of Dietary Sugars: Lessons from the Alcohol Experience.” In: Goran MI, Tappy, L, Le, K-A, eds.  Dietary Sugars and Health, Taylor and Francis, 2015. ch. 26; 371-384.

Kearns, CE, Glantz, SA, Laura A.Schmidt, "Sugar Industry Influence on the Scientific Agenda of the National Institute of Dental Research's 1971 National Caries Program: An Historical Analysis of Internal Documents".  PLOS Medicine.  2015, Accepted, In Press.

Afshin A, Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Laura A. Schmidt, Mozaffarian D. The Handbook of Global Health policy. ch. 9: Dietary Policies to Reduce Non-Communicable Diseases. 2014; 177-193.

Schmidt LA. The Equal Right to Drink. Drug Alcohol Rev. 2014 Nov;33(6) 581-7.

Mulia N, Tam TW, Schmidt LA. Disparities in the Use and Quality of Alcohol Treatment Services and Some Proposed Solutions to Narrow the Gap. Psychiatr Serv. 2014 May 1; 65(5):626-33.

Schmidt LA. New Unsweetened Truths About Sugar. JAMA Intern Med. 2014 Apr 1; 174(4):525-6.

Taylor, AL, Parento, EW, Laura A. Schmidt. The Increasing Weight of Regulation: Countries Combat the Global Obesity Epidemic. Indiana Law Journal. 2014; 1:90.

Lustig, R, Schmidt, Laura A., Brindis, C. “The Toxic Truth About Sugar.” Nature, 2012;482: 27-9. (Reprinted in The Norton Reader, 2013).

Simopoulos AP, Bourne PG, Faergeman O, Adrus, J, Christopher G, Clay WD, Gopalan, S, Jaffe R, Johnson RJ, Kosko L, Legrand, P, Li D, Marcos A, Peniston AM, Rehnborg S, Laura A. Schmidt, Scott I, Tontisirin K, Waitzberg DL. . Bellagio report on Healthy Agriculture, Healthy Nutrition, Healthy People. Nutricion Hospitalaria. 2013; (28):1761-1769.

Rittenhouse DR, Schmidt LA, Wu KJ, Wiley J. Incentivizing Primary Care Providers to Innovate: Building Medical Homes in the Post-Katrina New Orleans Safety Net. Health Serv Res. 2014 Feb; 49(1):75-92. 

Schmidt, L., Reickmann, T., Abram, A, Molfenter, T., Capoccia, V., Roman, P., Gustafson, D., and McCarty, D. “Advancing Recovery: Implementing Evidence-Based Treatment at the Systems Level.”Journal of Studies on Alcohol Drugs. 73:413-422, 2012. PMC3594882.  Nominated as one of the "most influential research articles" on and is among the top 20 publications of  2012 in the RWJF Year-in-Research Poll.

Selected Projects: (Principal Investigator) – Laura & John Arnold Foundation – 10/01/2013 – 04/30/2015

Reducing Obesity: Sugar Stress and Environment (Co-Principal Investigator) – UC Office of the President – 01/01/2015 – 12/31/2018

Evaluation of Atlantic Philanthropies’ Campaign for Better Care (Co-Investigator) – Atlantic Philanthropies – 01/01/2013 – 12/31/2014

Integrating Addiction Treatment and Medical Care in a Commercial Health Plan (Co-Investigator – R01 NIH/NIDA) – 07/01/11 – 06/30/16

Testing Medical Marijuana's Unintended Consequences for Youth and Young Adults (Principal Investigator – R01 NIH/NIDA) – 09/15/12 – 05/31/16

Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSI) - Community Engagement/Health Policy Program yrs 1-4 (Co-Director – NIH/UL1) 09/30/06 – 06/30/16

Nutrition and Alcohol Policy (Co-Investigator) – Metta Fund – 07/01/2013 – 06/30/2014

Mobile Health Support for SFDPH Heavy Users of Multiple Systems (Principal Investigator – UCSF-CTSI RAP-SOS) – 02/01/12 – 06/30/12

Transforming Primary Care Practice: Lessons from the New Orleans Safety Net (Co- Investigator – R18 DHHS/AHRQ) – 07/10/10 – 7/31/12

Racial Disparities in Access to Appropriate Alcohol Treatment Services (Principal Investigator – R01 NIH/NIAAA) – 07/01/08 – 06/30/12