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Ciaran Murphy

Serving People with Substance Use Disorders 

Growing up in San Francisco, Ciaran Murphy discovered a talent for running and dreamed of becoming an Olympian. But after injuries forced him to quit his college team, Murphy searched for a new goal.

He joined service-oriented organizations on campus and took part in several national and international health programs, spending time in Honduras, Indigenous reservations in the U.S, and Nepal. 

“Living a life of service is something I really value.”

After graduation, Murphy moved to Washington, D.C., where he spent a year working for Joseph’s House, an organization that provides hospice care for people living with HIV and/or terminal cancer. By listening to residents’ stories, he learned about how lived experiences—some that led to preventable health problems—deeply impacted a person’s health trajectory. These included addiction, mental health issues, and homelessness, which affected many of the residents living at the facility. 

This work influenced him to apply to medical school at the University of California San Francisco, where he is currently enrolled in the Program in Medical Education for the Urban Underserved. There, he has studied trends in unintentional fentanyl overdoses and successfully advocated for the school’s first-year curriculum to include Narcan training. 

Although Murphy plans to continue focusing on addiction medicine after medical school, working one-on-one with patients with substance use disorders, he believes population-level research will have a bigger impact on expanding the national conversation about addiction. A degree from the Bloomberg School will allow him to employ the quantitative skills he needs to assess addiction trends and evidence-based interventions. 

“I want to be a champion for people who suffer from substance use disorders,” he says.