Harvard Medical SchoolCenter for Palliative Care

Our Mission

The Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care (HMS CPC) aims to ease suffering and enhance the quality of care for patients and their families dealing with life-threatening and/or serious illness, through fostering leadership and supporting outstanding educational programs in palliative care. By educating future generations of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals, the Center serves as a national and international resource for the best practices in palliative care education and practice.


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Janet AbrahmJanet L. Abrahm, MD

Attending Physician, Division of Adult Palliative Care, Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital

Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School


Educational and Professional Experience


University of California, Berkeley


B.S. University of California, San Francisco Medical School


M.D. University of California, San Francisco Medical School


Straight Medical Intern, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA


Medical Resident and Fellowship in Hematology, Massachusetts General Hospital


Chief Medical Resident, Moffitt Hospital, UCSF


Fellow in Hematology/Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania


Staff Physician, HUP and Philadelphia VA Medical Center


Chief, Medical Service, Philadelphia VA Medical Center


Associate Chief of Staff, Primary Care and Consultative Medicine, Philadelphia VA Medical Center


Fellowship Director, Palliative Care Fellowship, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania


Director, Education and Research and Medical Director, Wissahickon Hospice of the University of Pennsylvania Health System


Director, Pain and Palliative Care Fellowship, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


Director, Pain and Palliative Care Service, DFCI/BWH


Associate Professor, Medicine Harvard Medical School


Staff Physician at DFCI and BWH


Division Chief, Adult Palliative Care, DFCI/BWH


Professor, Medicine Harvard Medical School

Current Teaching and Research Interests

Dr. Abrahm's teaching and research concentration within palliative care is pain and symptom management of patients with cancer. The third edition of her book, A Physician's Guide to Pain and Symptom Management in Cancer Patients, will be published in 2014 by Johns Hopkins University Press. She is currently an Investigator in two grants that involve decision support for symptom and quality of life management: (1) a feasibility study that created a computer-based algorithmic system that uses the patient's own symptom ratings and current medications to provide real-time symptom management suggestions to oncologists and nurse practitioners during outpatient visits of their patients with complaints of pain, dyspnea, fatigue, or depression, and (2) a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute Grant to explore and identify preferences for format, specific information and components of decision support that would be most useful either to patients and caregivers or clinicians, and to develop and pilot a decision support prototype that incorporates these elements. In addition to teaching about pain and symptom assessment and management, she is especially interested and has written about the early detection and aggressive treatment of spinal cord compression and of delirium. Dr. Abrahm also teaches about compassion fatigue, patient requests for hastened death, and palliative care program development.