Members of our research team in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

Members of our research team in Shinyanga, Tanzania.

Sandra McCoy is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) School of Public Health. She studies how social, economic, and cultural forces influence disease transmission and health outcomes. During the past several years, Sandi has explored these relationships through the lens of HIV infection and reproductive health. Using a diverse array of approaches, her goal is to identify innovative, cost-effective, and scalable interventions to overcome global health challenges.

Sandi is especially interested in designing and testing new interventions that can positively change health behavior, such as increasing adherence to treatment or encouraging people to engage in health screenings. Most recently, Sandi and an exceptional team in Tanzania completed a randomized study to compare the effects of short-term food and cash assistance on adherence to antiretroviral therapy among people living with HIV infection in Shinyanga Region (read more about the study here). In addition to her work in Tanzania, Sandi is part of the external impact evaluation team for Zimbabwe’s Accelerated National Prevention of Mother-to-Child HIV Transmission (PMTCT) Program. In this role, she has led several sub-analyses, including describing service utilization in the PMTCT cascade, an analysis of unmet need for family planning, a study examining the effect of food insecurity on utilization of services in the PMTCT cascade, and a study using geospatial analysis to better target resource allocation in the “last mile” towards elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission.

Sandi, her husband Brian Lewis, and long-time collaborator Dr. Prosper Njau at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Sandi, her husband Brian Lewis, and long-time collaborator Dr. Prosper Njau at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

At home in California, Sandi has led or collaborated on several research studies, both quantitative and qualitative, to identify innovative ways to increase the demand for HIV prevention, treatment, and care services among poor or disenfranchised communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Currently, the team is evaluating a novel intervention for young men who have sex with men in Oakland and Hollywood using principles of gamification, the use of game elements in non-game settings (read more about Stick To It here or visit the project website). Other projects include a respondent-driven sampling study to increase HIV testing among African American adults (Oakland Connect) and a community-based participatory research project with Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation to bolster HIV testing and linkage to care in Oakland. 

At UC Berkeley, Sandi teaches the fall course PH250a: Introduction to Epidemiologic Methods and co-teaches the spring course PH253B: Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases. In addition to her research and teaching at UC Berkeley, Sandi has been an instructor at numerous impact evaluation workshops led by PEPFAR, the World Bank, and UNAIDS in the U.S., Italy, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tanzania. She has experience with experimental and quasi-experimental impact evaluations, qualitative research, and implementation science.