2024 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards Announced

Categories: Leadership and People & Places.

The Hastings Center and The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation are pleased to announce six recipients of awards that honor physicians for providing exemplary care to patients nearing the end of life.

The awards are based on technical competence, personal integrity, empathic dialogue with patients, active engagement with the family and loved ones, practical and heartfelt communication regarding advance directives, and compassionate alleviation of suffering. Read more.

The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the provider-patient relationship near the end of life through education, collaboration and recognition, created and funded the awards, which are from $15,000 to $25,000 each. The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute that has done groundbreaking work on end-of-life decision-making, cosponsors the awards.

“It’s hard to express how meaningful these awards are,” said Andrew Peters, Executive Director of The Cunniff-Dixon Foundation.  “This year’s nominees were so exceptional and reflect the level of exemplary end-of-life care being provided at all career levels throughout the country.  The interdisciplinary nature of palliative care is a model of good holistic medicine. We are honored to help recognize those leading this field.”

The Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards have long recognized five outstanding physicians—a senior physician, a mid-career physician, and three early-career physicians. A sixth physician award, the Dr. Richard Payne Leadership Award, was added in 2022 to honor physicians who work with vulnerable and/or underserved populations. Here are the 2024 physician award recipients:

Dr. Richard Payne Leadership Award:

Hunter Groninger, MD, FAAHPM, Director of the Section of Palliative Care, MedStar Washington Hospital Center; Scientific Director for Palliative Care, MedStar Health Research Institute; and Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University. For the last 20 years, his clinical practice has focused on providing hospice and palliative care to patients and their families in Washington, DC, across all care settings. Active in clinical education, Dr. Groninger founded the MedStar Health/Washington Hospital Center Interprofessional Palliative Medicine Fellowship and teaches at MedStar Health and Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is also an investigator at the MedStar Health Research Institute. His grant-funded research currently focuses on novel symptom management strategies, innovative palliative care delivery models, and health disparities.

Senior Physician Award:

Julie Hauer, MD, FAAHPM, Division of General Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital; Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School. For nearly three decades, Dr. Hauer’s work as a clinician scientist has focused on children with disorders of the central nervous system who have complex medical care and decision-making needs. Her expertise includes complex symptom treatment, including at the end-of-life. Dr.  Hauer has written two books and developed medical content for NeuroJourney at Courageous Parents Network, a team effort that included editing by parent experts. She is committed to education and the support of future clinician scientists. She views relationship-building with parents as her most important work, tapping into their expert knowledge of their child, with commitment to iterative shared decision-making. Dr Hauer’s driving philosophy is that children with medical complexity are not defined by their problems, and that we must strive to see each child’s abilities and what brings meaning to a child’s life. Her work is made possible by being a member of a team that includes nurses, therapists, and social workers.

Mid-Career Physician Award:

Lynn Flint, MD, Clinical Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, University of California, San Francisco.Dr. Flint is the medical director of outpatient palliative care at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the founding director of the UCSF integrated geriatrics and palliative care fellowship, the first such fellowship on the West Coast. The program aims to produce leaders in the care of older adults and those with serious illnesses. In honor of her contributions to education, in 2021 she was inducted into The Haile T. Debas Academy of Medical Educators, which supports people who advance the education mission at UCSF. At the San Francisco VA Medical Center outpatient palliative care clinic, she works with a transdisciplinary team to care for veterans living with serious illness and their loved ones. After more than 10 years of inpatient work, she transitioned to the outpatient setting for the opportunity to impact new and broader populations.

Early-Career Physician Awards:

Andre M. Cipta, MD, FAAHPM, Assistant Professor of Clinical Science, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. Dr. Cipta is the program director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship and site director of the innovative mid-career fellowship track at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center. He also serves as associate medical director of the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Hospice Agency and palliative medicine clerkship director at the Tyson School of Medicine. Board certified in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Dr. Cipta is a recipient of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Leadership Scholar Award. In his multifaceted roles as a leader, educator, and researcher, he strives to enhance the quality of care across the continuum of serious illnesses. His interests lie in exploring novel approaches to medical education, studying the relationship between spirituality and health, and advocating for compassionate, evidence-informed, whole-person-centered care.

Richard Leiter, MD, MA, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Leiter is a palliative care physician, writer, and researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He serves as the director of the Inpatient Palliative Care Consult Service and founding director of the Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care Writing Core, and he sits on the Brigham and Women’s ethics committee. Dr. Leiter writes about the intersection of palliative care and ethics and the emotional experience of working in the field. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New England Journal of Medicine, STATNews, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Cell, among other publications. Along with Dr. Alexis Drutchas and Rachel Rusch, LCSW, he is a co-founder ofThe Palliative Story Exchange, a storytelling intervention that seeks to enhance connection and foster meaning-making among health care professionals.

Tyler Tate, MD, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). Dr. Tate is a pediatric palliative physician, ethicist, writer, and researcher at OHSU. He serves as an associate director of the OHSU Center for Ethics in Health Care and founding director of the Oregon Bioethics and Humanities Colloquium speaker series. Dr. Tate has written extensively about suffering and decision-making in the palliative context, with a special focus on promoting just and compassionate health care for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. His academic work has been published in numerous journals, including the Hastings Center Report, Pediatrics, and the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Beginning in June 2024, Dr. Tate will be moving to Stanford University where he will be a clinical associate professor in the department of pediatrics in the new Division of Quality of Life and Pediatric Palliative Care.

The Physician Awards selection committee is chaired by Kathleen Foley, MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and includes Zara Cooper, MD, MSc, FACS, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Anthony N. Galanos, MD, Duke University School of Medicine; Diane Meier, MD, Mt. Sinai Hospital and Center to Advance Palliative Care; and Rodney Tucker, MD, UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care.

The Hastings Center and the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation also give awards to outstanding nurses. Learn more about the physician awards and the nursing awards, including the past recipients, here.

[Photo, top left to right: Hunter Groninger, Lynn Flint, Andre M. Cipta; bottom left to right: Richard Leiter, Julie Hauser, Tyler Tate]

Published Posted in End-Of-Life Care

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