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Our Grantees

Across the Foundation’s priority areas, our grantees are working to improve the health of the public through innovative research and programs.  The Foundation awards up to 40 grants on a rotating schedule each year.

Train the Trainer Program for Cancer Communication


Institution: Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Grant Type: Board Grant

Award Amount: $204,430

Grant Awarded: July 2007

Principal Investigator: David W. Kissane, MD

This grant supports a program to disseminate the communication skills curriculum created at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to cancer centers throughout New York State. Despite the attention given to the role of communication skills in general medicine, little training in communication skills has been provided in the field of oncology. In fact, the four-day training session for oncology fellows conducted before the annual American Society for Clinical Oncology meeting has trained only 130 fellows over the past five years.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering is the first comprehensive cancer center to develop a training laboratory dedicated to communication skills. Utilizing role-playing and video replays as part of the feedback and teaching process, the laboratory has developed six modules. These deal with breaking bad news; discussing prognosis, shared decision making about treatment options, including clinical trials; responding to patient anger; discussing the transition from curative to palliative care; and obtaining do-not-resuscitate and do-not-intubate orders.

Dr. Kissane, who developed the program, trained 48 surgeons and medical oncologists as facilitators and 98 fellows during 2006. Macy support will be used to assess the outcome of the training program, to support a proposal for further funding from the National Cancer Institute, and to continue the train-the-trainers and fellows training program. Based on the outcome data, the next steps will be to invite oncologists from Mount Sinai, New York Presbyterian and New York University to participate in the program and to invite the 18 institutions in New York metropolitan area with oncology fellowship programs to participate.

In addition to NCI, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation is a potential supporter. Program leaders also plan to develop a fee structure for teaching communication skills to medical, surgical, pediatric and radiation oncology departments and to divisions of nursing and social work.