James Allison, MD

Board Member

photo of james allison MD


  • UCSF and Kaiser Division of Research

Dr. Allison received a BA with honors from the University of Pennsylvania, and, in 1969, his MD from the University of Rochester. His entire post graduate training was at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

He began his medical career at Kaiser San Rafael in 1974 where he was one of 2 first UCSF trained gastroenterologists in the Northern CA Permanente Medical Group. Beginning in 1977 he practiced at Kaiser Oakland where he was a full-time gastroenterologist and educator (Assistant Program Director – Internal Medicine) and where he devoted the majority of his time to patient care, administration, clinical research and teaching. In 1996 he received the Lowell Beal MD Award “in appreciation of his example of academic excellence combined with warm humanity.” He retired as a clinician from Kaiser in 1998.

After his retirement from Kaiser, Dr. Allison was invited to be a member of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) faculty and an Emeritus Investigator at Kaiser Permanente’s Division of Research.

He is Clinical Professor of Medicine Emeritus at UCSF and is a member of the Division of Gastroenterology at UCSF and the San Francisco General Hospital. He is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA). In 2003, he received the Bay Area Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Premier Physician Award, and in 2004, the AGA Distinguished Clinician Award. Recently he received the American Cancer Society’s 2017 Achievement Award for his contributions to increasing colorectal cancer (CRC) screening rates in California with the use of FIT.

Dr. Allison is a national and international expert on screening tests for CRC. In a publication in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1996, his research team was the first in the U.S. to show that the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) was superior to the standard guaiac fecal occult blood test for screening for CRC. Since 2000 Dr. Allison has been an ad hoc consultant to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Cancer Institute and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on issues concerned with screening for CRC. He has worked as a Board member of the California Colorectal Cancer Coalition (C4), California and San Francisco Departments of Public Health to increase screening rates in the uninsured/underserved population by helping to create FIT based screening programs in clinics served by safety net hospitals. The screening model this group has developed is being exported to other parts of the San Francisco Bay Area and state of California and has support from both the CDC and the AGA.

Dr. Allison’s CRC screening and IBD research has been published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, The New England Journal of Medicine, Gastroenterology, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and other peer reviewed journals. He has contributed articles on colorectal cancer screening tests to the University of California Berkeley Wellness Letter and he has been quoted in Prevention Magazine, the Ladies’ Home Journal, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Times.