Current Fellows

Gwen Bernacki, MD, MHSA, joined our program in November 2018 having completed her fellowship in Cardiology at Duke University and residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington.  She is currently a senior fellow and acting instructor in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Washington.  Prior to attending medical school, Dr. Bernacki received a Masters of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan.

 

Dr. Bernacki’s research is focused on examining the effect of multi-morbidity on quality of care among older adults with cardiovascular disease.  The present approach to the care of cardiovascular patients with multiple chronic conditions is costly; at times, confusing to patients; and unsustainable.  In order to best care for these complex patients, cardiologists need novel tools and data to help determine the most appropriate treatment plans.  During her palliative care research fellowship, she is studying shared decision making and its effect on discussions about goals of care, as well as the approach to code status reversal for cardiovascular procedures.  She is mentored by Drs. Ann O’Hare (nephrology), J. Randall Curtis (pulmonary/critical care) and James Kirkpatrick (cardiology).

 

“I am eager to learn more about how to research and optimize the treatment of multiple chronic conditions and as the population continues to age, this research will assume even greater importance.  As my career as a cardiologist focusing on the care and quality of life of older adults develops, I look forward to more effectively helping my patients and contributing to this rapidly growing field.”

Matthew Modes, MD, MPP, joins our program in January 2019 as a senior fellow in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Washington. Prior to his fellowship, he completed residency at the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He is currently enrolled at the University of Washington School of Public Health in the Masters of Epidemiology program.

 

Dr. Modes’ research focuses on understanding the values and goals of patients and families facing serious illness, enhancing provider knowledge of those values and goals, and improving the delivery of clinical care consistent with those values and goals. He aims to better understand the experiences of patients and families facing serious illness and to improve communication between patients, families, and providers. He is mentored by Dr. Erin Kross, Dr. Ruth Engelberg, and Dr. J. Randall Curtis.

 

“My goal is to help patients and families make informed and authentic decisions when facing serious illness and ensure clinical care aligns with those decisions. My research aims are to better understand the values and goals of patients and families facing serious illness, to enhance communication so patients, families, and providers are on the same page, and to identify ways to improve delivery of goal-concordant care.”

Angela Steineck, MD, joined our program in August 2019 having completed her fellowship in Hematology-Oncology at the University of Washington-Seattle Children’s Hospital and residency in Pediatrics at Stanford University. She is currently a senior fellow and acting instructor in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at the University of Washington. Dr. Steineck is working toward completing a Master’s of Science in Epidemiology from the University of Washington.

 

Dr. Steineck’s research focuses on understanding the experience of children and adolescents undergoing treatment for cancer. She is using mixed methods, incorporating both qualitative and patient reported outcome data, to more clearly define the symptoms patient experience and understand how this impacts quality of life. This will help pediatric oncologists more effectively guide families in the decision making process and prepare them for the treatment ahead. During her Palliative Care Research Fellowship, she is studying the experience of pediatric patients undergoing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. She is mentored by Dr. Abby Rosenberg at the University of Washington, School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

 

“My goal is to find ways to alleviate the suffering children experience from their cancer and the related treatment. Learning how to do this directly from our patients and their families will help us identify innovative opportunities for improvement in the care we provide.”

Molly Taylor, MD, joined the T32 team in February 2019.  She completed her Pediatrics internship at the University of Chicago, and residency at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where she is currently a senior fellow in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology.  She is concurrently pursuing a Master of Science in Health Services degree at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

 

Dr. Taylor’s research interests include psychological mediators of disease in adolescents and young adults with cancer and their caregivers.  Her primary aim is to explore the biological mechanisms by which attitudes and behaviors influence the development and treatment course in pediatric cancer.  She hopes to evaluate the physiologic correlates of positive psychological interventions to improve resilience in pediatric oncology patients and families.  She is mentored by Dr. Abby Rosenberg, Dr. J. Randall Curtis, Dr. Karen Syrjala (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center), and Dr. Jennifer Knight (Psycho-Oncology at Medical College of Wisconsin).

 

“My goal is to try to better understand how the mind and the immune system interact in pediatric oncology patients and their caregivers.  Through stress biomarker research, we can uncover these relationships that will facilitate targeted psychosocial interventions.  My hope is this will allow us to more successfully support our patients and families through the cancer illness process.”

 

Recent Fellows

Anna Halpern, MD, completed a 1-year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2018. Prior to her fellowship, she completed her fellowship in Hematology-Oncology at the University of Washington.

 

Dr. Halpern’s research is focused on novel approaches to the care of patients with hematologic malignancies. During her palliative care research fellowship, she focused on investigational questions that, as an overarching theme, aim to improve the outcomes and quality of life of adults with hematologic malignancies via the development and testing of evidence-based and cost-effective therapies that are tailored to individual patients. As part of this goal, she will trial interventions that shift some of the inpatient-heavy care of these patients to the outpatient setting, and evaluate how this shift affects patient and caregiver well-being, as well as healthcare resource utilization.

 

Currently, Dr. Halpern is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Hematology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and an Assistant Member of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Nancy Lau, MA, PhD, joins us from Harvard University where she completed her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology.

 

Dr. Lau’s research broadly focuses on palliative care in pediatric cancer populations.  Specifically, she is interested in family-based models of resilience and treatment moderators and mediators of the Promoting Resilience in Stress Management (PRISM) psychosocial intervention for adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer and their caregivers.  She is mentored by Dr. Abby Rosenberg and Dr. Elizabeth McCauley at the University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

 

“Although advances in pediatric cancer care provide state of the art biomedical treatment, psychosocial health outcomes have remained largely ignored. I aim to address this important gap in the field by conducting research on the development and dissemination of psychosocial treatments for young cancer survivors.”

Cara McDermott, PharmD, PhD, completed a 2-year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2018.  Prior to her fellowship, she completed her PharmD, MSc, and PhD degrees at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.


Her research interests include implementing interventions to improve medication use, cancer care delivery, and end-of-life care for older adults with multiple chronic conditions. During her fellowship, Dr. McDermott published 4 first author publications and received the AcademyHealth New Investigator Small Grant Award. At the end of her fellowship, she was appointed as a K12 Scholar with the University of Washington Implementation Sciences Training Program, and received a Palliative Care Research Cooperative pilot award to investigate palliative and end-of-life care for adults with multi-morbidity.

 

Currently, Dr. McDermott is an Acting Instructor in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the University of Washington.

Jill M. Steiner, MD, MS completed a 2 year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2018, during which she earned a Masters in Epidemiology/Clinical Research from the University of Washington School of Public Health. Prior to her fellowship, Dr. Steiner completed residency at Georgetown University and general cardiology fellowship at the University of Washington.

 

Dr. Steiner’s research focuses on perceptions and implementation of palliative and end-of-life care in adults with congenital heart disease. During her fellowship, she was selected as a 2018 AAHPM Research Scholar. She is mentored by Dr. James Kirkpatrick and Dr. J. Randall Curtis.

 

Dr. Steiner is currently an Adult Congenital Heart Disease fellow in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Washington.

 

 

Robert “Bob” Y. Lee, MD, completed a 1 year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2018.  Prior to his fellowship, Dr. Lee completed medical school at the University of Colorado and internal medicine residency at the University of California San Francisco. He is currently completing his is fellowship in pulmonary and critical care medicine at the University of Washington.

 

Dr. Lee’s research focuses on long-term psychological symptoms in survivors of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and their families, and the mechanisms of goal-discordant care in patients with acute respiratory failure.  At the completion of his T32 fellowship, Dr. Lee was awarded a 2-year individual National Research Service Award (F32) from NHLBI to study the etiologies and risk factors for receipt of POLST-discordant intensive care near the end of life. He is mentored by Dr. Erin Kross and Dr. J. Randall Curtis.

 

Dr. Lee is currently a Senior Fellow in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Washington.

Heather Coats, PhD, MS, APRN-BC, completed a 2 year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2017.  As a Palliative Care Adult Nurse Practitioner, Dr. Coats joined us with over 18 years of clinical experience in palliative, oncology and hospice care. Prior to her fellowship, she received her PhD at the University of Arizona College of Nursing.

 

Her research interests are focused on improving psychological-social-spiritual well-being through the development of narrative interventions with minorities living with life-limiting illnesses. During her fellowship she continued to build upon her research interests of narrative interventions and was awarded an NIH/NINR Pathway to Independence Award (Parent K99/R00) for her research project titled:  Personalized Experiences: to inform improved communication for Minorities with Life Limiting Illness. This research project focuses on assessing the feasibility and efficacy of a storytelling intervention incorporated into the electronic health records, with the primary outcome to improve communication between patients who have serious illnesses and the providers that care for them.

 

During her fellowship, Dr. Coats continued building her publication record by completing 5 first author and 3 second author publications.  She was selected as a 2017 AAHPM/HPNA Research Scholar and was invited to serve as one of the plenary speakers at the annual AAHPM/HPNA State of the Science Session for the next three national assemblies.

 

Dr. Coats is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Colorado.

Crystal Brown, MD, MA, completed a 1-year post-doctoral T32 fellowship at the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence in 2016.  She previously had completed a fellowship in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Washington.

 

Her research interests center around empirical bioethics questions that pertain to justice in health and healthcare disparities, particularly around chronic lung disease and palliative and end-of-life care. A recent research project examined the role of race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and healthcare intensity at the end of life in patients receiving care within the UW Medicine system. Currently, through a project funded through the Palliative Care Research Cooperative, Dr. Brown is studying perspectives on palliative care and advance care planning in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension. Additionally, she is interested in understanding the role of ethics consultations in clinical decision-making, particularly for patients from underserved and marginalized groups.

 

During her fellowship, Dr. Brown was selected as a 2016 AAHPM Research Scholar.  She is currently a Clinical Instructor in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine at the University of Washington and serves as an ethics consultant at Harborview Medical Center.

 

 

 

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