Research Team


Zana Lutfiyya
Tom Hassard


Murray Enns
Pierre Gagnon
Mogens Groenvold
Neil Hagen
Lise Jul Houmann
Wendy Johnson
Olav Lindqvist
Clare Ramsey
Janice Richman-Eisenstat
Carol Tishelmann

Harvey Max Chochinov, MD, PhD, FRSC

Dr. Chochinov leads the research team that pioneered the Dignity Model and Dignity Therapy. In addition to holding the only Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care, he is a Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba and Director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit, CancerCare Manitoba.

Dr. Chochinov’s publications addressing psychosocial dimensions of palliation have helped define core competencies and standards of end-of-life care. He is a member of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Chair for the Canadian Virtual Hospice, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

His many honours include:

  • The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
  • His province’s highest honour, the Order of Manitoba
  • The National Cancer Institute and Canadian Cancer Society O. Harold Warwick Prize (2008)
  • The University of Manitoba’s highest research honour, the Dr. John M. Bowman Rh Institute Foundation Award (2009)
  • The International Psycho-oncology Society’s Bernard Fox Research Award for outstanding contributions to research or leadership in the field of psycho-oncology (2010) i>
  • The Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)

In addition to more than 150 publications, Dr. Chochinov is the Co-Editor of the Handbook of Psychiatry in Palliative Medicine, published by Oxford University Press, and the Journal Palliative and Support Care, published by Cambridge University Press.

William Breitbart, MD


Dr. Breitbart’s research on psychiatric aspects of palliative care has focused on interventions for anxiety, depression, desire for death and delirium in cancer and AIDS patient. He recently developed and tested Meaning-Centered Psychotherapy, a novel intervention aimed at sustaining meaning and improving spiritual well-being in the terminally ill, and a textbook is in the works.

At the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, Dr. Breitbart is Chief of the Psychiatry Service, Vice-Chairman and Attending Psychiatrist of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, as well as Attending Psychiatrist of the Pain and Palliative Care Service. He is also a Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Cornell University. His numerous honours include lifetime achievement awards from the Society for Liaison Psychiatry and the International Psycho-oncology Society. Since 2003 he has been Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Palliative and Supportive Care.

Ronald Damant, MD


Dr. Damant is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, as well as Assistant Dean, Preclinical Undergraduate Medical Education. In addition to clinical practice, he is interested in Medical Education and the care of patients as they approach the end-of-life.

He received his MD from the University of Alberta in 1990 and studied Family Medicine at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. After two years of practice, Dr. Damant went on to complete training in Internal Medicine and Respirology.

Sara Davison, MD, MHSc (Bioethics), FRCPC


Dr. Davison’s research program, funded through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, focuses on pain and symptom management, advance care planning, spirituality and other end-of-life issues for patients with chronic kidney disease, and how these aspects of care impact health policy.

She is a nephrologist, bioethicist and health outcomes researcher at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, with cross appointments with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre and the Institute of Health Economics. Dr. Davison is also active internationally as a s peaker on pain and symptom management and end-of-life care for patients with chronic kidney disease, and as a consultant in creation of pain algorithms and end-of-life care programs.

Linda Emmanuel, BA, MA, PhD, MB, MD


Dr. Emanuel is working on ways to include Dignity Therapy as a standard palliative care service, particularly in hospices. She is also is the Founder and Principal of the Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care Project and the Patient Safety Education Project.

As an educator, Dr. Emanuel currently serves as the Buehler Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Center on Aging, Health and Society at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Kellogg School of Management. In the last decade she has served as Deputy Editor of the Archives of Internal Medicine and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Organizational Ethics. Her recent honours include the Pellegrino Award for lifetime achievement in medical ethics.

Carla Ens, PhD


Dr. Ens’ program of research related to palliative care includes work in the field of global health, medical education and pediatrics. Her doctoral research program, conducted under the advisement of Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov, focused on the role of the medical doctor in the provision of hospice and palliative care in South Africa. This work was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the International Development Research Centre, as well as various provincial and university scholarships. Future research is planned to examine the role of the Patient Dignity Index within the context of South African palliative care. She continues to work with the Manitoba Pediatric Palliative Care Research Team based at CancerCare Manitoba.

Thomas Hack, BComm, BSc, MA, PhD

Dr. Hack is a Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba, and a Clinical Psychologist with CancerCare Manitoba. His research programs focus on coping with cancer, and communication between cancer patients and health professionals.

Dr. Hack serves on the Cancer Survivorship Advisory Panel and the Standards and Guidelines Advisory Group of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. He chairs the International Task Force on Guidelines, Training and Accreditation for the International Psycho-Oncology Society, and is President of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology. Dr. Hack was named the inaugural Dorothy J. Lamont Scientist with the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute/Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and is a recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee medal for his psychosocial oncology research.

Sue Hall, BSc, PhD, CPsychol


Dr. Hall is a Charted Health Psychologist working in the Department of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation at King’s College London. She has collaborated on research exploring the views of older people in care homes on maintaining dignity, and she is now conducting two Phase II RCTs of Dignity Therapy. The first (in the analysis stage) involves 60 older people living in care homes. The second, involving 40 people with advanced cancer who have been referred to hospital-based palliative care teams, is nearing completion.

Dr. Hall’s research program also includes a new publication for the World Health Organization, Palliative Care for Older People: Better Practices, as well as studies of symptom burden for older people in care homes and end-of-life care in care homes.

Mike Harlos, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Dr. Harlos is continually raising expectations about what palliative care can achieve. He is Medical Director for the palliative care programs of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and St. Boniface Hospital, and is a member of the executive team of Canadian Virtual Hospice ( He is also co-chair of the Canadian Network of Palliative Care for Children and Medical Director of the Pediatric Symptom Management Service. At the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Harlos is Professor and Section Head of palliative medicine.

Recent honours include the Eduardo Bruera Award from the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association Award of Excellence, the Manitoba Medical Association’s Dr. Jack Armstrong Humanitarian Awards and the Hospice and Palliative Care Manitoba Companion of the Hospice Award.

Irene Higginson, BMedSci, BM, BS, FFPHM, PhD, FRCP

le=”float: left; margin-right: 10px;” />Professor Higginson has dual training in palliative medicine and epidemiology/public health, and has led national and international multidisciplinary collaboration in palliative care. For the past 10 years she has been Head of Department and Professor of Palliative Care and Policy at King’s College London, where her department has been designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for Palliative Care. She was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2008.

Her publications include more than 250 scientific papers and 14 books, and she is an advisor to many governments in research and policy in palliative care. Professor Higginson has developed the Support Team Assessment Schedule and the Palliative Care Outcome Scale, tools used widely in the UK and other countries. She is leading the assessment strand of the NCRI Supportive and Palliative Care Collaborative COMPASS, and is working on two European Palliative/End of Life Collaboratives.

Joe Kaufert, PhD

Dr. Kaufert’s research work is currently focused on Aboriginal health, interpretation and health communication, cross-cultural and research ethics, and disability studies.

As a community health researcher and medical anthropologist, Dr. Kaufert has worked in the departments of Community Medicine and Psychiatry in the universities of London (England), Texas and Manitoba. He is the founder of the British Society for Medical Anthropology and was President of the Canadian Association for Medical Anthropology. Currently, he is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. With Patricia Kaufert, he developed the postgraduate degree (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) programs in Community Health Sciences and co-directed the graduate program for three years.

Dr. Kaufert is the author of 80 peer-reviewed publications and has written or edited four books.

Linda Kristjanson, RN, PhD

Professor Kristjanson is Deputy-Vice Chancellor Research and Development for Curtin University in Perth, Australia. From 2000 to 2006 she was the Chair of Palliative Care for the Western Australian Centre for Cancer and Palliative Care, where she remains a senior researcher. She was also a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council from 2003 to 2006.

As a researcher, Professor Kristjanson has published more than 200 refereed papers and chapters, and has received $30 million in competitive research grants from organizations in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. In 2002 she was chosen Australian Business Woman of the Year for her entrepreneurial work in health research and science.

Liz Lobb, BAE, M.App.Sci, PhD

At Calvary Health Care in Sydney, Australia, Dr. Lobb is preparing to lead a controlled trial on use of the Patient Dignity Inventory to improve couples communication about end-of-life issues. She was involved with Dignity Therapy trials in Perth, and later collaborated on developing a protocol for expanding the therapy to patients with advanced breast and ovarian cancer.

Dr. Lobb has collaborated on multi-disciplinary clinical studies in oncology, haematology, cancer genetics and palliative care since 1996, and has worked clinically as a bereavement counsellor for 16 years. Her research interests include communication of prognosis, the process of genetic counselling, and complicated grief.

She is the Cunningham Centre for Palliative Care’s Associate Professor of Palliative Care at Calvary Health Centre Sydney, as well as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Curtin University of Technology and Notre Dame University.

Patricia J. Martens, BSc, Cert.Ed., MSc, IBCLC, PhD


Dr. Martens is the Director of the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She has made more than 200 invited presentations and published more than 100 articles, books and abstracts as a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) New Investigator (2003-2008) and a CIHR/PHAC Applied Public Health Chair (2008-2013).

Her interests in health services and population health research include projects on the health status and healthcare use of Manitoba’s rural and northern residents, mental health and the use of health care services by those with mental illness, the health of Aboriginal people, and child health (including evaluating community intervention strategies to increase breastfeeding rates). Dr. Martens directs The Need to Know Team, a collaborative research team of university academics and planners from the 11 Regional Health Authorities of Manitoba and the Manitoba Department of Health. The team’s research impact on health policy and planning was recognized through CIHR’s prestigious national KT Award for Regional Impact in 2005.

Doris L. Milke, PhD


Dr. Milke is the Senior Researcher for CapitalCare Edmonton Area and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faulty of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Faculty of Nursing, and the Department of Psychology at the University of Alberta. She is also Co-Investigator on a study of issues related to the need to balance efficient worksites for staff with homelike settings for residents with dementia.

Dr. Milke has led post occupancy evaluations of most of the 10 new centres built by CapitalCare in the last decade, including two funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. She recently completed a relocation study that looked at mealtime consumption for evidence of stress and was a key investigator on a Canadian Health Services Research Foundation-funded study focusing on knowledge translation and long term care staff.

Alison Murray, MD


Dr. Murray worked on a Patient Dignity Inventory study involving palliative care patients. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary and a practising palliative care physician. She says she has learned most of what she knows from her patients and students, and is honoured to work with them.


Kerstin Roger, PhD


In her current research as Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Social Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Roger asks questions about care in the context of end of life/terminal medical conditions and aging, and, how social aspects of health and well-being interact with families and our communities. She has also worked internationally, and at the federal, provincial and community level, on related initiatives.

Dr. Roger holds a Masters in Education (Applied Psychology) from the Ontario Institute of Studies in Education, and, a PhD in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the University of Toronto. She has been certified as a Clinical Psychotherapist and Supervisor in Ontario and was in private practice for several years in Toronto. In 2004-06, she completed a Post Doctoral Health Science Centre Foundation Fellowship under the supervision of Dr. H.M. Chochinov.

Shane Sinclair, PhD

In September 2010, Dr. Sinclair begins a two-year CIHR/Wyeth Post-doc fellowship under the supervision of Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov and Dr. Neil Hagen.

He is currently the Spiritual Care Coordinator at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary, where he has been a PI and author for several dignity projects. He also holds an appointment in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary.

Dr. Sinclair’s PhD work at the University of Calgary focused on the spirituality of Canadian palliative care professionals, and was nominated for the Governor General’s Gold Medal Award. He is a board-certified chaplain with the Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education and has provided spiritual care in the areas of palliative care and oncology over the past decade.

David Strang, MD, FRCPC


Dr. Strang, a specialist in Geriatric Medicine, is currently collaborating with Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov on a study assessing dignity in end-of life care in non-cancer populations, including the institutionalized elderly. He has conducted research into the effects of pharmaceutical industry detailing on physician practices and the assessment of decision-making capacity. The book Capacity to Decide, which he co-authored, arose from that research.

After basic medical training at the University of Manitoba, Dr. Strang went to McMaster University for specialty training in Internal and Geriatric Medicine and in Clinical Epidemiology. He is currently Assistant Professor in Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manitoba, Chief Medical Officer of Deer Lodge Centre, Medical Director of the Personal Care Home Program and Acting Medical Director, Geriatrics, of the Rehab/Geriatrics Program of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. He practices Geriatric Medicine in various day hospital and hospital settings.

Jill Taylor-Brown, MSW, RSW


As Director of Patient and Family Support Services for CancerCare Manitoba, Jill Taylor-Brown has been working with adults who have cancer and their families for over 30 years. She has been Co-investigator for a National Patient Dignity Inventory Study, a Dignity Therapy trainee and a member of the CancerCare Manitoba Dignity-Conserving Care Implementation team.

She continues to provide individual, couple and family counselling, and facilitates several support programs for people with cancer. Her research interests include the impact of parental cancer on children and spousal relationships, feasibility and efficacy of professionally facilitated online support groups, dignity conserving care and cancer survivorship. She served as President of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, and is currently a member of the Cancer Journey Advisory Group of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Jill is also an Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Human Ecology, and Lecturer, Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Manitoba. In 2008, she was honoured with the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology Award of Excellence for Outstanding Contributions to Psychosocial Oncology in Canada.

Genevieve Thompson, RN, PhD

Dr. Thompson recently completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit where she was involved in several projects, including the description of family satisfaction with end-of-life care in the nursing home environment. Her varied research interests include issues in the delivery of end-of-life care for non-cancer patients and their families.

A nurse by background, Dr. Thompson is experienced in critical care and palliative care nursing. She will be joining the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba as an Assistant Professor in July 2010.

Deborah Stienstra, PhD

Deborah Stienstra and Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov co-lead VP-NET, a Vulnerable Persons and End of Life Care New Emerging Team funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR). She is a Professor of Disability Studies at University of Manitoba and Visiting Professor at University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. Her recent research interests include experiences of people with disabilities in end of life and cancer care, vulnerability and public services, women’s experiences as a result of economic restructuring, and access and inclusion in telecommunications policy.

Dr. Stienstra is co-editor of Making Equality: History of Advocacy and Persons with Disabilities in Canada and the lead author of Women with Disabilities: Accessing Trade. She held the Royal Bank Research Chair in Disability Studies from 2000-2003 at the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies. From 2003-2007, she led a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) funded team on information technologies and people with disabilities called Dis-IT (Disability and Information Technologies) Research Alliance.

Keith G. Wilson, PhD, C.Psych


Dr. Wilson is the primary developer of the Structured Interview of Symptoms and Concerns (SISC), a research interview that addresses many common problems faced by patients with advanced illness. The SISC includes an assessment of loss of dignity, which has now been investigated in several studies internationally.

As a clinical psychologist at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre, he maintains an active research program, with particular interests in the psychosocial and functional aspects of chronic illness and disability, and issues in end-of-life care. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, and an Associate Scientist with the Clinical Epidemiology Program of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

James Zacharias, MD


As a co-investigator with Dr. Chochinov, Dr. Zacharias examines the dignity and quality of life of medically and socially complex patients with end-stage renal disease on dialysis. His research activities and interest in Ethics have led to an evolving interest in improving Aboriginal health, dialysis delivery and quality of life for dialysis patients.

Dr. Zacharias is an Assistant Professor at the University of Manitoba, and conducts a busy clinical practice in nephrology. He is also the Medical Director of the Manitoba Local Centre dialysis program and Chair of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Standards committee. He teaches Ethics to medical students and has been a member of the Ethics consult services at the Health Sciences Centre. Dr. Zacharias has a Masters in Community Health Sciences.

Jitender Sareen, MD, PhD


Dr. Sareen has conducted many studies and published over 100 peer-reviewed publications in the areas of traumatic stress, anxiety disorders, military mental health, Aboriginal suicide and homelessness. He is currently a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Manitoba, Director of Research and Anxiety Services in the Department of Psychiatry at the Health Sciences Centre and a consulting psychiatrist for the Veterans Affairs Canada Operational Stress Injury Clinic at Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg.

Although his research interests are quite diverse, Dr. Sareen is leading a large partnership grant with First Nations communities in Northwestern Manitoba to improve the understanding of suicide and suicide prevention measures. He is also the Winnipeg Site Co-Principal Investigator for the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Research Demonstration Project in Homelessness and Mental Health and the Acting Director of the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Group.

Dr. Sareen holds two salary support awards: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award, and the Manitoba Health Research Council Chair Award. He has also received national awards for excellence in research (Canadian Psychiatric Association) and teaching (University of Manitoba).

Susan McClement, PhD


Dr. McClement has been involved in the development of the empirical model of dignity from the perspective of palliative patients, and the subsequent research projects based on this model. She has particular interest in applications of the Dignity Model to nursing practice, and the impact of Dignity Therapy on the families of terminally ill patients.

At the University of Manitoba, Dr. McClement is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing. She is also a Research Associate of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit at CancerCare Manitoba headed by Dr. Harvey Chochinov. Her research interests include psychosocial issues related to food and fluids in advanced illness, ethical issues in palliative care, and the development and evaluation of palliative care educational initiatives.