Sandra McCoy PhD, MPH

Professor in Residence
Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Sandra McCoy is a Professor in Residence in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. She studies how social, economic, and cultural forces influence disease transmission and health outcomes. During the past several years, Dr. McCoy 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.

Together with collaborators in the United States, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa, Dr. McCoy designs and evaluates interventions that can improve sexual and reproductive health among adolescents and adults. She is especially interested in innovative, low-cost interventions, often using technology, that can positively change health behavior, such as increasing adherence to treatment, bolstering the adoption of modern contraception, or encouraging people to engage in beneficial health screenings. To achieve these goals, Dr. McCoy uses a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods from epidemiology, impact evaluation, implementation science, behavioral science, and human-centered design. For example, Dr. McCoy leads a portfolio of projects in Tanzania to bolster adherence to antiretroviral therapy among people living with HIV infection. In the Afya II project, her team is evaluating the effectiveness of short term cash transfers provided at treatment initiation that are deployed through a comprehensive digital platform. The solution uses biometric identification to track patients over time and automatically delivers cash transfers to patients using their desired mobile money provider. In addition, Dr. McCoy led a study in California to develop and pilot an online mHealth intervention (Stick To It) for young gay and bisexual men based on principles of gamification, the use of game elements in non-game settings. The intervention leveraged proven motivational tools from behavioral economics and psychology (incentives, rewards, competition) in a fun, game-like setting. In this way, Dr. McCoy’s work combines innovative tools from behavioral science with technology to enhance engagement in beneficial health services and behaviors.

At UC Berkeley, Dr. McCoy teaches introduction to epidemiologic methods (PH250A) and co-teaches a course on the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases (PH253B). She is on the editorial board of the journal mHealth and is the PI of the UCSF/UC Berkeley Global Technical Anchor to the Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) project, a USAID-funded implementation science partnership that seeks to generate, synthesize, and use evidence to improve the implementation of policies and programs to improve global health. Dr. McCoy has held consultancies with PEPFAR, the World Bank, and UNAIDS and has research experience in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Kenya.

  • PhD – Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
  • MPH – Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • BA – Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
  • Impact evaluation and implementation of science
  • Prevention and control of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, including PrEP, HIV self-testing, and adherence
  • Demand creation for voluntary family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services, especially among adolescent girls and young women
  • Human-centered design
  • Digital health interventions
  • PH250A: Epidemiologic Methods
  • PH253B: Epidemiology and Control of Infectious Diseases