The Department of Family Medicine is thrilled to announce the appointment of Dr. Justin Sanders as Kappy and Eric M. Flanders Chair in Palliative Care Medicine. Dr. Sanders takes over from Dr. Bernard Lapointe, who held this Chair with distinction since 2009. In addition to his role at Palliative Care McGill, Dr. Lapointe is Chief of the Palliative Care Division at the Jewish General Hospital. Dr. Lapointe’s dedication to palliative care has been recognized by numerous awards including the 2017 Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians Lifetime Achievement Award. We take this opportunity to thank Dr. Lapointe for his leadership of Palliative Care McGill as Chair and wish him ongoing success as he continues his important work.

Palliative Care McGill is an interdisciplinary network of clinicians, educators, researchers, allied-health professionals, volunteers and support staff who work together across five teaching hospitals, at the adult and pediatric, community and tertiary levels and at two affiliated hospices to provide top-quality palliative care, education and research. It has a broad scope of services in its various clinics, including rehabilitation, lymphedema, interdisciplinary cancer pain and cannabis clinics. It welcomes 150 learners, from across Canada and across the globe, on average each year.

McGill University has long been a pioneer in palliative care, with a 45-year history of hosting international conferences in Montreal and of promoting world-wide collaborations. It is a leader in supporting social policy development and community outreach.

As a palliative care physician-investigator who studied Family Medicine, Dr. Sanders brings a global perspective and a clear vision for how to build upon the singular legacy of Palliative Care McGill and to improve patient and family-centred care for all people affected by serious illness.

Dr. Sanders possesses broad clinical, research, education, and implementation experience. He received his MD in 2007 from the University of Vermont, before completing his MSc in Medical Anthropology the following year at the University College London in the United Kingdom as a US-UK Fulbright Post-graduate Scholar. Dr. Sanders pursued his residency in Family and Social Medicine at the Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, where he served as Chief Resident. In 2014, he completed his fellowship in the Harvard Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Prior to joining McGill, Dr. Sanders served seven years at the Faculty of Adult Palliative Care in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (the first department of its kind), and as Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His primary academic role was in the Serious Illness Care Program at Ariadne Labs, a joint centre for health care delivery innovation at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital founded by Atul Gawande. As a lead faculty member and Associate Director of Innovation for the program, Dr. Sanders contributed to the program’s strategic direction and oversaw a portfolio of projects aimed at improving communication and care for all people affected by serious illness. In the last seven years, he has participated in every aspect of the development of a care delivery model to systematically improve serious illness communication, including clinical tool development, implementation and communication skills curriculum design, interprofessional clinician training. His primary research focus lies at the intersection of serious illness, culture, and communication.

“I can imagine no higher honour than to build on the work started by Dr. (Balfour) Mount and continued by Dr. Lapointe,” says Dr. Sanders. “McGill is a birthplace of our field, and I am humbled and thrilled by the opportunity to bring to bear the incomparable resources of the university, the Department of Family Medicine, and the community to usher in the next generation of palliative care innovation and research.”

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Sanders to McGill and to his new role!