James Tulsky

James Tulsky

James Tulsky, MD, has been appointed director of Palliative Care at BWHC and inaugural chief of the Division of Palliative Care in the Department of Medicine at BWH, effective Sept. 1. He will also become chair of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).

In these roles, Tulsky, who is nationally recognized for his leadership and achievements in end-of-life care and provider-patient communication, will lead the palliative care and psychosocial oncology efforts at BWHC, DFCI and Boston Children’s Hospital.

“The vision of the new BWH Division of Palliative Care is to support patients with life-threatening illness and their families, enhance quality of life and well-being and relieve suffering by providing compassionate clinical care,” said BWHC President Betsy Nabel, MD. “Our mission also includes training the next generation of leaders in psychosocial oncology and palliative care. We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Dr. Tulsky paving the way for us and bringing his inspiring vision to our community.”

Tulsky will join BWHC from the Duke University Health System, where he is a professor of Medicine and Nursing at Duke School of Medicine and a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. He has received National Cancer Institute funding for the development of an online intervention to improve communications skills and build trust between clinicians and patients. He is the author of 160 peer-reviewed publications and the book “Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients.”

Tulsky received his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago and trained as a resident in internal medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He joined Duke’s faculty in 1993, where he worked in the Palliative Care Unit.

Tulsky is the recipient of many awards, including the 2002 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the 2013 George L. Engel Award from the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare for “outstanding research contributing to the theory, practice and teaching of effective healthcare communication and related skills.”
Tulsky succeeds Susan Block, MD, who established and led Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at DFCI and palliative care services at the Brigham. Joanne Wolfe, MD, served as interim chair as Block transitioned to Ariadne Labs.

“Dr. Block has nurtured and developed the careers of an exceptional faculty and staff, and has built robust clinical and teaching services at Dana-Farber, BWH and Boston Children’s Hospital,” said Nabel. “We are very pleased that she will continue to be an active member of our medical staff. Additionally, Dr. Wolfe has done a terrific job balancing her roles as leader of palliative care and psychosocial oncology programs with her duties as interim head of the department.”