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Press release from The Hastings Center, shared Jan. 10:
A pioneer in establishing best practices for palliative care is one of the five American physicians being honored today for improving the care of patients near the end of life. Others include a specialist in pain management and spiritual care of cancer patients and a director of the service that makes palliative care house calls to underserved homebound patients. They were named recipients of the third annual Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards.
The awards were given by the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the doctor-patient relationship near the end of life, in partnership with The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute that has done groundbreaking work on end-of-life decision-making. The nomination and selection process was administered by The Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life.
The recipients were drawn from a national group of nominated candidates. “This year’s winners emerged from an exceptionally strong field of nominees and serve as models of competent, caring, compassionate doctoring,” said Richard Payne, MD, a selection committee member and Esther Colliflower Director of the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life.
The awards were made in three categories: a senior physician category for leadership in end-of-life care, a mid-career physician category for longstanding commitment to serving patients and for leadership in palliative care, and an early-career physician category for serious commitment to the field and contribution through practical research or clinical work.
Janet Bull, MD, chief medical director and principal investigator of Four Seasons, a nonprofit hospice and palliative care organization that serves the Hendersonville and Asheville regions of Western North Carolina, received the senior physician award of $25,000. She has served as principal investigator on more than 30 clinical trials to establish best practices in hospice and palliative care. She has also designed an experiential course to train palliative care physicians and provides consulting programs in hospice, palliative care, and research. In addition, she has worked closely with the Palliative Care Association of Zambia to advance policy, education, and clinician training to promote palliative care throughout that country.
Michael Rabow, MD, professor of clinical medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and director, Symptom Management Service, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Care Center, received the mid-career physician award of $25,000. He developed the service, which is one of the first outpatient palliative care services in a comprehensive cancer center in the U.S. It includes an interdisciplinary team of clinicians from medicine, oncology, surgery, nursing, social work, psychology, pharmacy, and chaplaincy.
Early-career awards of $15,000 each were given to three physicians:
- Justin N. Baker, MD, FAAP, FAAHPM, director, Division of Palliative and End-of-Life Care; an attending physician, Quality of Life Service; and director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, for outstanding leadership and research on palliative care for children.
- Jason Morrow, MD, PhD, medical director, inpatient palliative care, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, for his advocacy in expanding palliative care services and his passion for educating medical students, residents, and other physicians in clinical practices and ethics.
- Theresa A. Soriano, MD, MPH, director, Mount Sinai Visiting Doctors Program, Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, for her advocacy and leadership in caring for underserved patients and bringing primary and palliative care to those who are homebound.
The prize recipients were selected by a committee convened by The Hastings Center. In addition to Richard Payne, the committee consisted of Thomas P. Duffy, MD, of Yale University; Kathleen M. Foley, MD, of Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; and Larry R. Churchill, PhD, of Vanderbilt University.
The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation was founded in 2005 by Matthew A. Baxter in memory of his wife, Carley Cunniff, who died of breast cancer, and in recognition of her attending physician, Dr. Peter S. Dixon, in Essex, Conn., who enabled her to die a peaceful death at home with her family and loved ones.
“We commend the winners for their exceptional skill in palliative care and their leadership in bringing this care to diverse groups of patients,” said Thomas Murray, president of The Hastings Center. “They are making a difference to these patients and their families.”