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Susan D. Block, MD


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  • Institute Physician
  • Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Clinical Interests

  • Adult psychosocial oncology
  • End-of-life care
  • Palliative medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Symptom management

Contact Information

  • Appointments617-632-6179
  • Office Phone Number617-632-6179
  • Fax617-632-6136


Susan D. Block, M.D is an Institute Physician in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Womens Hospital and Co-Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care, a national center of excellence in palliative care education. Dr. Block received her AB from Stanford University, her MD from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and completed residencies in both internal medicine and psychiatry at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. She is board-certified in both fields and in palliative medicine. Throughout her career, Dr. Block has had a strong interest in improving care of patients with life-threatening illness and in medical education reform. She has been a leader in the development of the field of Palliative Medicine nationally and has been responsible for the development of innovative educational programs for medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty. She runs national and international faculty development programs for palliative care clinicians, is active in research focused on mental health, communication, and cancer outcomes, and on medical education, serves on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, is the recipient of numerous awards for teaching, mentoring, and research, and has led the development of palliative care and psychooncology services at DFCI and BWH.

Board Certification:

  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Internal Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Neurology


  • Beth Israel Hospital, Internal Medicine
  • Beth Israel Hospital, Psychiatry

Medical School:

  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine

Recent Awards:

  • Jack Maatsch-Association of American Medical Colleges Award for research in medical education 2002
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Distinguished Service Award 2002
  • Association for Academic Psychiatry, Outstanding Psychiatric Educator Award 1998
  • American College of Psychiatrists "Creativity in Psychiatric Education" 1997
  • HMS Student Teaching Award (Social Medicine) 2004 Project on Death in America Palliative Medicine Leadership Award 2006


Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care

Many deficiencies have been noted in end-of-life care. Medical education and postgraduate training offer few opportunities for physicians to learn how to care for patients with advanced illness. However, through understanding the status of palliative care education, physicians' attitudes and practices in relation to end-of-life care, and their experiences in caring for patients who die, we can develop new ways to improve physician education and patient care. To that end, we are conducting the following studies:Physicians' emotional reactions to their patients' deaths. In this study, we are using both qualitative and quantitative methods to explore the experiences of medical students, interns, residents, and attending physicians who are caring for dying patients.Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice Outcome Evaluation. We are conducting an intensive long-term evaluation of the impact of a two-week faculty development program on physicians' competencies in palliative care, education, and organizational change.Through the Center for Psychooncology and Palliative Care Research, we are also developing a series of studies focused on mental health issues at the end of life, caregivers of dying patients, and the bereaved, as well as the impact of physician factors (e.g., beliefs, knowledge, attitudes) on the quality and outcomes of care at the end of life. Finally, we are developing and validating performance-assessment measures for specialist training in palliative care.


Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
450 Brookline Avenue
Shields Warren G411
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