Dana-Farber physician honored with prestigious Palliative Care Lifetime Achievement Award

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Susan Block, MD, an institute physician in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School professor, and director of the Serious Illness Care Program at Ariadne Labs, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) Annual Assembly in Chicago on March 11, 2016, among the highest honors in the field.

“Dr. Block’s illustrious career has generated an outstanding body of work that has helped shape and advance hospice and palliative medicine,” said AAHPM President Christine Ritchie, MD, MSPH, FACP, FAAHPM. “She has touched the lives of so many. We are pleased to honor her with the AAHPM Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Block trained in internal medicine and psychiatry to provide both physical and psycho-emotional care to patients. She devoted time to learning about the psychological struggles of cancer patients through small, just-emerging hospice programs in Boston and later, through new palliative medicine programs she helped establish at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Block and her husband of 34 years, the late Dr. J. Andrew Billings, together established the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care.

“What I have loved about this work over the years is when you are taking care of people who are dying or living with a serious illness and you are supporting their families, you are witnessing love and loss at the most distilled, essential level that humans can ever experience,” Block said. “It has been a great privilege to be close to these profound human experiences.”

Block joins a select list of palliative care pioneers in receiving this award, among them Cicely Saunders, founder of the first modern hospice, and Dr. Balfour Mount, who brought palliative care to North America.

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