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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International Palliative Care Programs

Palliative Care Education and Practice in Singapore

With the assistance of several PCEP alumni from Singapore, Mervyn Koh, MBBS, MRCP (class of 2011) and Wah Ying Ong, MBBS, Patricia Soek Hui Neo, MBBS, MRCP, MPH and Yew Jin Ong, MB, BS (all class of 2012), Drs. Billings and Block presented a "mini-PCEP" focused on palliative care education for Singapore palliative care educators in July 2012. The Singapore palliative care community is a growing, vibrant group, with an extraordinary variety of faculty, fellows, and other health care professionals. As part of the visit, Drs. Block and Billings were able to tour several palliative care units, met with fellows and other learners, had dialogues with government officials, including the Director of Medical Services and the Minister of Health, about palliative care in Singapore, and participated in an international palliative care conference that was attended by 600 clinicians from the region.

German Program in Palliative Care Education and Practice

With the assistance of several PCEP alumni from Germany, Bernadette Fittkau-Tonnesmann MD (class of 2005) and Gian D. Borasio MD (class of 2001), a week-long version of PCEP for medical students/faculty was offered in Germany. Five of our faculty, including Drs. Block and Billings, traveled there to teach from August 26 to September 2, 2006 and returned in 2008.

Palliative Care Training in Vietnam

International Programs at the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care are directed by Dr. Eric L. Krakauer. Founder of the Vietnam-CDC-Harvard Medical School AIDS Partnership (VCHAP) and its Director from 2002 to 2006, Dr. Krakauer supervised the training of over 700 physicians and 50 nursing leaders in comprehensive HIV/AIDS care and treatment in Vietnam. He also provided training and technical assistance in palliative care to HIV/AIDS and cancer centers around the country.

In 2005, he collaborated with Vietnam's Ministry of Health on a rapid situation analysis of palliative care needs and services in Vietnam. He then assisted the Ministry to draft Vietnam's first national "Guidelines on Palliative Care for Cancer and AIDS Patients," issued in September 2006. He now is providing technical assistance to the Ministry for its review of laws and regulations governing availability of opioid analgesics.

Dr. Krakauer was a member of the Salzburg Group convened by the International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care to draft a List of Essential Medications for Palliative Care. He is a member of the International Advisory Collaboration on opioid policy of the Pain and Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, a WHO Collaborating Center.

Clinician-educators at the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care collaborated with the Ministry of Health of Vietnam and other international colleagues to develop three culturally appropriate and locally relevant curricula in palliative medicine for Vietnam. As of spring 2011, over 400 Vietnamese physicians had been trained with our Module 1 Basic Course, nearly 100 with our Module 2 Advanced Course, and 15 with our Fellowship and Certification Curriculum. Harvard Medical School faculty members and Fellows as well as invited colleagues from other medical schools participate in our teaching programs in Vietnam. We also provide technical assistance to major Vietnamese hospitals to integrate sustainable palliative care services into the care of patients with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other serious chronic illnesses. For more information, please visit our website.

The Center provides mentorship for medical students, residents, fellows and faculty members interested in palliative care in resource-limited settings.