Dr. Joanne Wolfe Wins American Cancer Society Pathfinder Award

October 16, 2013

Dr. Joanne Wolfe photo

(News release)

The American Cancer Society announced that Dr. Joanne Wolfe has been selected as the recipient of the 2013 American Cancer Society Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements of a professional who has demonstrated remarkable innovation and ingenuity across a range of opportunities for action that contribute to the advancement of the palliative care field.

Dr. Wolfe, founder of the Pediatric Advanced Care Team (PACT) at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, is Director of Pediatric Palliative Care at Boston Children's Hospital and Division Chief of Pediatric Palliative Care Service at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She will be honored Oct. 22 at the Kathleen Foley Palliative Care Research Retreat in Sausalito, Calif.

Dr. Wolfe’s groundbreaking early research in the experience of children with advanced cancer launched an entire field of scientific investigation, providing the evidentiary platform for numerous initiatives focused on improving care for children with life-threatening illness.

Since its founding more than a decade ago, PACT has served as a model pediatric palliative care program, offering inpatient and outpatient services for children with a variety of serious illnesses, including cystic fibrosis and metabolic disorders, as well as pediatric cancers. It offers a vibrant interdisciplinary fellowship program and a highly sought-after visitor program for clinicians seeking to expand their practice and develop pediatric palliative care programs in the US and abroad.

Dr. Wolfe led the formation of the Pediatric Palliative Care Research Network to foster clinical investigation in pediatric palliative care through multicenter research efforts and form a community of investigators who can exchange ideas, obtain valuable feedback, and develop key collaborations.

A fierce advocate for concurrent care, Dr. Wolfe has influenced the care of countless children by spearheading efforts to formulate policy creating the state funded Massachusetts Pediatric Palliative Care Network (PPCN), while also intensively training numerous pediatric palliative care clinicians through fellowships and mentorship.

“I am deeply humbled and grateful for the recognition of my work in pediatric palliative care. In actuality, this award acknowledges the high value of interdisciplinary team work, whether in clinical care, education or research, because I am surrounded by truly dedicated and talented colleagues,” Dr. Wolfe said. “I am also indebted to my mentors – Drs. Jane C. Weeks (recently deceased), Samuel Lux, Lisa Diller and Susan Block – for their continual support and insightful guidance. It is a true privilege to serve children with life-threatening illness and their families. The life lessons are boundless.”

“The American Cancer Society is committed to both saving lives and improving the quality of life for all adults and children facing cancer and their families,” said Vincent T. DeVita Jr., M.D., volunteer president of the American Cancer Society. “Dr. Wolfe deserves to be recognized for her outstanding commitment to this field as a legendary pioneer in paving the path for the field of pediatric palliative care to address suffering and improve quality of life for children and their families.”

Palliative care focuses on managing the pain, symptoms and stress of serious illness at any age and at any stage of disease. Through an innovative extramural grant partnership with the National Palliative Care Research Center, the American Cancer Society has dedicated nearly $23 million grant support for palliative care and symptom management research since 2007.  Building on the success of that research program, the Society’s advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN), is a driving force behind federal and state Quality of Life legislation to boost palliative care and pain management research, workforce training, and access to these quality care services for all seriously ill adults and children in every care setting. (http://www.acscan.org/qualityoflife).

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Kristen Dattoli

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