Current Projects

The following is a brief list of investigators whose current work directly relates to or touches upon palliative care:

Angela Fagerlin, PhD (Associate Professor, General Medicine). Dr. Fagerlin is a cognitive psychologist whose primary research focuses are testing methods for communicating the risks and benefits of treatment to patients (e.g., in decision aids) and testing how patient decision aids can affect patient physician communication. Her other research includes studying cognitive biases involved in medical decision making and the use of living wills at the end of life.

Brant Fries, PhD (Professor, Institute of Gerontology). Dr. Fries research career has been focused on the use of data to make informed decisions for elderly and disabled persons, at levels ranging from the clinical to policy-making. He is a co-author of the National Nursing Home Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI)/Palliative Care which can be used for both the design of individual care plans and for case mix and outcomes research for patients in hospice.

Chris Friese RN, PhD, AOCN (Assistant Professor, School of Nursing). Dr. Friese is a junior health services researcher focused on measuring and improving the nursing care received by patients with cancer. He is currently working on an IVR tool to measure and treat chemotherapy-related toxicities among patients with leukemia.

Carmen Green MD (Professor, Anesthesiology). Dr. Green is a senior health services researcher and pain specialist known for her research examining racial and ethnic disparities in access to pain management. Her most recent work focuses on the determinants of chronic pain among cancer survivors. 

Theodore Iwashyna, MD (Assistant Professor, Critical Care). Dr. Iwashyna is a health services researcher who has explored effects of market pressures upon access to hospice care. Currently, he is examining the experience of survivorship after critical illness, particularly among those with severe sepsis with an eye to interventions to improve the quality of life of survivors.

Lisa Kujawski, MD (Assistant Professor, Hematology & Oncology and Palliative Medicine). Dr. Kujawski is a junior investigator interested in describing the symptom burden of patients with leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Marcos Montagnini, MD (Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine). Dr. Montagnini directs the Fellowship in Palliative Medicine and has ongoing research in assessment of learners’ knowledge of and attitudes regarding palliative care. 

Laurel Northouse PhD (Professor, School of Nursing). Dr. Northouse has conducted a series of federally funded randomized clinical trials to test the effects of a family-based intervention on quality of life and other psychosocial outcomes of cancer patents and their family caregivers. Currently, she is identifying patients and caregivers at higher risk for emotional distress, examining intervention dose on patient and caregiver outcomes, and studying the use of health care resources.

Ken Pituch, MD (Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Palliative Medicine). Dr. Pituch directs the Palliative Care Service at Mott Children’s Hospital.  He helped develop “Survey About Caring for Children With Heart Disease at End of Life” which is being used to measure burden among parental caregivers of children with congenital heart anomalies. He is collaborating in trials of early palliative care for children with complex chronic illness (specifically, end stage renal disease and congenital heart malformation). 

Mina Rakoski, MD (Clinical Lecturer, Gastroenterology). Dr. Rakoski is a junior investigator who has published work documenting the growing burden of liver disease among older adults. She is interested in testing interventions to improve access to early palliative care for elderly patients with cirrhosis and reduce the burden upon their family caregivers. 

Philip Rogers, MD (Assistant Professor, Family Medicine and Palliative Medicine). Dr. Rogers directs the Palliative Care Service at UMHS. He is collaborating with the Bone Marrow Transplant Program in a quality improvement project to evaluate the benefits of early palliative care for patients about to receive a bone marrow transplant.

Maria Silveira MD (Assistant Professor, General Medicine & Palliative Care): Dr. Silveira is a health services researcher who has a national profile for having been among the first to convincingly demonstrate the efficacy of advance directives. Her most recent research involves testing algorithms to predict default surrogates for patients without decisional capacity. Additionally, her work includes testing innovations to improve symptom management and caregiving for patients with cancer. She has developed a system that assesses patients’ symptoms by phone, gives them feedback for self management of those symptoms, and informs their family caregiver about how to best support the patient; with funding from the VA, she is testing this system among patients undergoing chemotherapy for solid tumors. She is collaborating with investigators at the School of Nursing and in the Department of Hematology to test this system with patients with leukemia. She is collaborating with the Center for Health Communications Research (Larry An et al.) to develop an m-health application based on her original work; the goal is for this application to be used as the cornerstone for a comprehensive program to improve the quality of symptom management for patients at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Ted Skolarus MD (Assistant Professor, Urology). Dr. Skolarus is a junior investigator who has developed a symptom assessment and management platform for patients with prostate cancer. He has a Career Development Award to test this system among veterans at the Ann Arbor VAMC.

Susan Urba, MD (Professor, Hematology & Oncology and Palliative Medicine). Dr. Urba is a leader in the field of palliative care. She has an interest in symptom management for patients with head and neck and gastrointestinal tumors. She is currently conducting an industry-sponsored trial of a new anti-emetic.

Caroline Vitale, MD (Associate Professor, Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine). Dr. Vitale directs the Fellowship in Geriatrics. She is interested in structured evaluation of programs to educate medical students and residents in palliative care.