Research Summary

Michael W. Rabow, MD, FAAHPM, the Helen Diller Family Chair in Palliative Care, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology and Associate Chief of Education & Mentoring in the Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the Medical Director of Palliative Care in the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and Founding Director of the MERI Center for Palliative Care Education at UCSF/Mount Zion. Dr. Rabow attended UCSF for medical school and general internal medicine residency training. He completed fellowships at UCSF in general medicine, as well as in medical education research and is board-certified in internal medicine and hospice & palliative care. For 25 years previously, Dr. Rabow was in the Division of General Medicine and continued an active primary care practice along with his work in palliative care.

Program Development
Dr. Rabow directs a leading outpatient palliative care program-- the Symptom Management Service-- at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. One of the largest palliative care programs in a cancer center nationally, the Symptom Management Service currently provides outpatient palliative care co-management in more than 30 half-day clinics weekly across three campuses at UCSF. Previously, he was the founding director of the UCSF/Mount Zion Hospital and Bakar Hospital Palliative Care Consultation Services.

Dr. Rabow is a national expert in outpatient palliative care research and service delivery. He has conducted both controlled and longitudinal trials of outpatient palliative care consultation, as well as multiple surveys of current outpatient palliative care consultation practices nationally. He is currently part of a PCORI study examining in-person vs telemedicine for palliative care for people with lung cancer and is the site PI for a study looking at Dignity Therpay for elders with cancer. He lectures widely and has published over 100 papers in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of palliative care, spirituality, family caregiving, and end-of-life care education.

An expert in Community-Based Palliative Care, Dr. Rabow also serves as a consultant to medical centers nationally working to develop or expand their palliative care services, and as a consultant to numerous prominent professional or philanthropic organizations dedicated to expanding palliative care access and quality. Dr. Rabow served as the lead of the project advisory board for the "Improving Palliative Care in the Outpatient Setting" (IPAL-OP) initiative at the Center to Advance Palliative Care. He directed the outpatient palliative care service assessment team for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and is a consultant to the palliative care work from the California HealthCare Foundation. Dr. Rabow is on the advisory board to the Palliative Care Institute of the California State University at San Marcos, which provides online education and certification for members of the palliative care interdisciplinary team.

Dr. Rabow is one of the leads of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) and a member of the curriculum development committee for the PCLC Initiative nationally. The PCLC Initiative has trained more than 1200 hospital- and community-based palliative care programs in the United States. Previously, Dr. Rabow helped direct the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services, the first program to support the development of hospital-based palliative care services in California. In addition, Dr. Rabow served as a technical advisor and member of the leadership team for the Archstone Foundation's Hospital-Based Palliative Care Service Innovations project.

Dr. Rabow is the founding director of the MERI Center for Palliative Care Education at UCSF/Mount Zion, which also serves as the central hub for palliative care education across the UCSF enterprise. Dr. Rabow is an active member of the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators. He was Assistant Editor for the bimonthly section in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled "Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life." This series now appears as a palliative care textbook, Care at the Close of Life. For 15 years, he served as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Healer's Art at the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal in California. Dr. Rabow is the Associate Editor of the world's best-selling annually-updated general medicine textbook, Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment. Dr. Rabow is the executive producer of "The Caregivers" documentary film and accompanying family caregiver handbook.

Major Awards
In addition to numerous UCSF teaching awards and awards for research presentations at national meetings, in 2016, Dr. Rabow was selected as the winner of the AAHPM PDIA National Palliative Care Leadership Award. He is a past recipient of the Soros Project on Death in America award and the Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award.


Harvard College, Cambridge, MA, 1983-1987, B.A., summa cum laude (Anthropology)
Harvard University Extension School, Cambridge, MA, 1987-1988, No degree sought
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 1989-1993, M.D., (Medicine)
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 1993-1994, Primary Care Internal Medicine Internship
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 1994-1996, Primary Care Internal Medicine Residency
University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, 1996-1997, Clinician-Educator Fellowship in General Internal Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • 1987
    Summa Cum Laude, Harvard University Department of Anthropology
  • 1987
    Phi Beta Kappa, Harvard University Chapter
  • 1993
    Alpha Omega Alpha, UCSF School of Medicine
  • 1999
    UCSF/Mount Zion Medical Residency Teaching Award
  • 2000
    Robert H. Crede Award for Excellence in Teaching, UCSF
  • 2002
    Project on Death in America Faculty Scholarship, Soros Foundation
  • 2002
    David E. Rogers Junior Faculty Education Award, Society of General Internal Medicine
  • 2004
    Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Outstanding Lecture Award, UCSF Class of 2006
  • 2004
    UCSF Academy of Medical Educators
  • 2004
    Best Research Poster, AAMC Western Regional GEA/GSA Annual Conference
  • 2005
    Society of General Internal Medicine Clinician-Educator of the Year Award, California
  • 2007
    Circle of Life Award, American Hospital Association, to the UCSF Palliative Care Service
  • 2008
    Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, Innovation in Education Award to the Healer's Art
  • 2008
    Fellow, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • 2009
    American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Paper Award
  • 2010
    Essential Core Teaching Award for Outstanding Lecture from the UCSF Class of 2012
  • 2011
    Geriatrics Abstract Award, Society of General Internal Medicine
  • 2012
    Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Award
  • 2017
    2017 AAHPM PDIA Palliative Medicine National Leadership Award

Selected Publications

  1. Wilkie DJ, Fitchett G, Yao Y, Schoppee T, Delgado Guay MO, Hauser J, Kittelson S, O'Mahony S, Rabow M, Quest T, Solomon S, Handzo G, Chochinov HM, Emanuel LL. Engaging Mortality: Effective Implementation of Dignity Therapy. J Palliat Med. 2023 Sep 07.  View on PubMed
  2. Tsang M, Bischoff K, Schoenbeck KL, Berry K, O'Riordan D, Fakhri B, Wong SW, Shah N, Olin R, Andreadis C, Vieaux J, Cohen E, Lopez NS, Mannis GN, Rabow M. Value of embedded palliative care: outpatient palliative care and health care utilization for patients with hematologic malignancies. Blood Adv. 2023 Jul 11; 7(13):3146-3149.  View on PubMed
  3. Bischoff KE, Vanegas G, O'Riordan DL, Sumser B, Long J, Lin J, Berkey AR, Kobayashi E, Zapata C, Rabow MW, Pantilat SZ. A Systematic Approach to Assessing and Addressing Palliative Care Needs in an Outpatient Population. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2023 09; 66(3):270-280.e8.  View on PubMed
  4. Del Rivero J, Mailman J, Rabow MW, Chan JA, Creed S, Kennecke HF, Pasieka J, Zuar J, Singh S, Fishbein L. Practical considerations when providing palliative care to patients with neuroendocrine tumors in the context of routine disease management or hospice care. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2023 07 01; 30(7).  View on PubMed
  5. Digitale JC, Nouri SS, Cohen EL, Calton BA, Rabow MW, Pantilat SZ, Bischoff KE. Differential Use of Outpatient Palliative Care by Demographic and Clinical Characteristics. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2023 Aug; 66(2):e163-e176.  View on PubMed
  6. Zimmermann C, Buss MK, Rabow MW, Hannon B, Hui D. Should Outpatient Palliative Care Clinics in Cancer Centers be Stand Alone or Embedded? J Pain Symptom Manage. 2023 02; 65(2):e165-e170.  View on PubMed
  7. Emanuel LL, Solomon S, Chochinov HM, Delgado Guay MO, Handzo G, Hauser J, Kittelson S, O'Mahony S, Quest TE, Rabow MW, Schoppee TM, Wilkie DJ, Yao Y, Fitchett G. Death Anxiety and Correlates in Cancer Patients Receiving Palliative Care. J Palliat Med. 2023 02; 26(2):235-243.  View on PubMed
  8. Calton B, Rabow M, Page M, Rossi R, Oberheim-Bush N, Chang S, Taylor JW. Embedding palliative care in a neuro-oncology clinic at an academic medical center: Our structure, experience, and lessons learned. Neurooncol Adv. 2022 Jan-Dec; 4(1):vdac114.  View on PubMed
  9. Kwok I, Keyssar JR, Spitzer L, Kojimoto G, Hauser J, Ritchie CS, Rabow M. Poetry as a Healing Modality in Medicine: Current State and Common Structures for Implementation and Research. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2022 08; 64(2):e91-e100.  View on PubMed
  10. Chen WC, Boreta L, Braunstein SE, Rabow MW, Kaplan LE, Tenenbaum JD, Morin O, Park CC, Hong JC. Association of mental health diagnosis with race and all-cause mortality after a cancer diagnosis: Large-scale analysis of electronic health record data. Cancer. 2022 01 15; 128(2):344-352.  View on PubMed
  11. Lorenz K, Dy S, DeNatale M, Rabow MW, Spruijt O, Anderson K, Agar M, Mickelsen J, Vallath N. Epilogue: Reflections from International Mentors of the Quality Improvement Training Programme in India. Indian J Palliat Care. 2021 Apr-Jun; 27(2):235-241.  View on PubMed
  12. Pollock Y, Zhang L, Kenfield SA, Van Blarigan EL, Rodvelt T, Rabow M, Macaire G, Weinberg R, Topp K, Friedlander T, Lin A, Fong L, Kim W, Ma B, Hough J, Lee M, Paciorek A, Ryan CJ, Chan JM, Small E, Aggarwal R. A multidisciplinary team-based approach with lifestyle modification and symptom management to address the impact of androgen deprivation therapy in prostate cancer: A randomized phase II study. Urol Oncol. 2021 10; 39(10):730.e9-730.e15.  View on PubMed
  13. Rabow MW, Keyssar JR, Long J, Aoki M, Kojimoto G. Palliative Care Education During COVID-19: The MERI Center for Education in Palliative Care at UCSF/Mt. Zion. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2021 Jul; 38(7):845-849.  View on PubMed
  14. Schumacher KL, Plano Clark VL, Rabow MW, Paul SM, Miaskowski C. The Experience of Complex Pain Dynamics in Oncology Outpatients: A Longitudinal Qualitative Analysis. Cancer Nurs. 2021 Mar-Apr 01; 44(2):136-144.  View on PubMed
  15. Samuels V, Schoppee TM, Greenlee A, Gordon D, Jean S, Smith V, Reed T, Kittelson S, Quest T, O'Mahony S, Hauser J, Guay MOD, Rabow MW, Emanuel L, Fitchett G, Handzo G, Chochinov HM, Yao Y, Wilkie DJ. Interim Analysis of Attrition Rates in Palliative Care Study on Dignity Therapy. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2021 Dec; 38(12):1503-1508.  View on PubMed
  16. Rabow MW, Huang CS, White-Hammond GE, Tucker RO. Witnesses and Victims Both: Healthcare Workers and Grief in the Time of COVID-19. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2021 09; 62(3):647-656.  View on PubMed
  17. Rabow MW, Parrish M, Kinderman A, Freedman J, Harris H, Cox D, Liao S, Yu K, Ward K, Landau C, Kerr K. Staffing in California Public Hospital Palliative Care Clinics: A Report from the California Health Care Foundation Palliative Care in Public Hospitals Learning Community. J Palliat Med. 2021 07; 24(7):1045-1050.  View on PubMed
  18. Calton B, Shibley WP, Cohen E, Pantilat SZ, Rabow MW, O'Riordan DL, Bischoff KE. Patient and Caregiver Experience with Outpatient Palliative Care Telemedicine Visits. Palliat Med Rep. 2020; 1(1):339-346.  View on PubMed
  19. Lawrence EC, Carvour ML, Camarata C, Andarsio E, Rabow MW. Requiring the Healer's Art Curriculum to Promote Professional Identity Formation Among Medical Students. J Med Humanit. 2020 Dec; 41(4):531-541.  View on PubMed
  20. Smith GM, Calton BA, Rabow MW, Marks AK, Bischoff KE, Pantilat SZ, O'Riordan DL. Comparing the Palliative Care Needs of Patients Seen by Specialty Palliative Care Teams at Home Versus in Clinic. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2021 07; 62(1):28-38.  View on PubMed

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