Five Physicians Honored for Outstanding Care of Patients Near the End of Life

Leaders who advance palliative care in underserved areas and forge ties with various medical specialists to help people with cancer receive the 2015 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards.

PRESS RELEASE: 3/24/15 A physician who is improving palliative care for children with brain tumors and another physician who is helping impoverished patients with advanced dementia are among the five recipients of the 2015 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards.

“This cohort of physicians demonstrates that compassion, competency, and a healing presence are cherished by patients and their families and admired and respected by their colleagues,” says Richard Payne, MD, chairman of the selection committee and the Esther Colliflower Professor of Medicine and Divinity at Duke University and the John B. Francis Chair in Bioethics at the Center for Practical Bioethics. “The awards will make a difference for their careers, and will assist them in building palliative care programs in their communities.”

The awards were made in three categories: a senior award and a mid-career award of $25,000 each and three early-career awards of $15,000 apiece. Each recipient has been exemplary in one or more of four areas: medical practice, teaching, research, and community.

The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the doctor-patient relationship near the end of life, funds the awards. The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute that has done groundbreaking work on end-of-life decision-making, cosponsors the awards. Duke University Divinity School’s Program in Medicine, Theology, and Culture oversees the selection process.

“All these award winners share a commitment to reaching special populations, from children with cancer to veterans to underserved minority communities,” says Mildred Z. Solomon, Ed.D, president of The Hastings Center. “They are outstanding clinicians who provide exquisite patient care, but who also have the skill and commitment to create durable organizational structures that will ensure that the work succeeds over time.”

The 2015 recipients are:

Senior Physician Award: David N. Korones, MD, professor of pediatrics, oncology, and neurology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The selection committee cited his success in advancing palliative care for children with brain tumors, as well as his work to care for children with cancer in Russia and Ethiopia. He is the founder and director of the pediatric palliative care program at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Golisano Children’s Hospital; the program serves about 200 children a year. Dr. Korones also directs the pediatric brain tumor program and is an attending physician on the adult palliative care service. He is also the lead physician consultant at CompassionNet, a community-based pediatric palliative care program in upstate New York. “David provides the highest level of biological, psychological, social, and spiritual care available,” wrote the selection committee.

Mid-Career Physician Award: Bruce E. Condit, MD, FHM, medical director of palliative care and an attending physician at the Central Maine Medical Center and medical director of Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, an outpatient hospice team, both in Lewiston . The selection committee commended him for “creating something from nothing” by establishing the first palliative care program in the region. Under his leadership, the program has grown from one full-time clinician to an interdisciplinary team that sees 678 patients a year.

Early-Career Physician Awards:

Shaida Talebreza Brandon, MD, FAAHPM, HMDC, a geriatrician and palliative care specialist at the George E. Wahlen Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and medical director of Inspiration Hospice, a hospice and palliative care teaching site for the University of Utah. The selection committee praised her work with home-based primary care for veterans.

Mary K. Buss, MD, MPH, a medical oncologist and palliative medicine specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where she built and directs the outpatient palliative care clinic. The selection committee commended Dr. Buss for having “altered the perception of palliative care within the institution” and cited “her role as an important bridge between oncology and palliative care.”

Laura M. Iglesias Lino, MD, medical director for geriatrics and palliative care at Brightwood Health Center and associate medical director for hospice at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. The selection committee praised her for her leadership and for using her skills in geriatrics and palliative care to help Spanish-speaking and other immigrant populations in Springfield.

The prize recipients were selected by a committee convened by The Hastings Center. In addition to Dr. 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 Diane E. Meier, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.