Department of Medicine

Department of Medicine

  Division of General Internal Medicine

2017 SGIM Awards

Yael Schenker has won the Outstanding Junior Investigator of the Year award. This award recognizes a junior investigator nationally whose early career achievements and overall body of works to date have had national impact on generalist research. The criteria for the award include overall quality of publications, the impact of the work on generalist research practice and policy, an increasing momentum of career accomplishments including creativity and innovation.

Dr. Schenker, a tenure-track assistant professor in the Division’s Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, is an extremely motivated and productive junior investigator doing creative work that has generated international attention. Her interest in integrating palliative care as part of general medical care is motivated by a true dedication to her patients and a clear vision for the future.

Recruited to the University of Pittsburgh as a junior faculty member in 2010, her publication record, already impressive for a fellow, has since then far surpassed the usual expectations for an early-stage faculty member. Most notably, she has first authored and senior authored publications in top general medicine journals, including JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, and JGIM, as well as the leading specialty journals in palliative care, critical care, and oncology. The impressive volume of her work—35 peer-reviewed manuscripts and a total of 78 publications either published, in press, or under review—distinguishes her as one of the strongest emerging voices in her field.

Moreover, Dr. Schenker’s timely and innovative palliative care research has already made a significant contribution to our understanding of how to improve access and quality of care for seriously-ill patients. The research accomplished with her career development award, which was focused on barriers to specialty palliative care use, led to the design and pilot-testing of a nurse-led “primary” palliative care intervention called CONNECT. CONNECT has been embraced by leaders at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC CancerCenter, who have offered significant financial support to enable Dr. Schenker to pursue this work. Dr. Schenker is also the principal investigator of a newly-funded R01 cluster-randomized trial that is testing the efficacy of CONNECT across 16 UPMC CancerCenter sites.

Dr. Schenker is also conducting an innovative care management intervention, funded by the American Cancer Society, focused on improving the care of patients with hematological malignancies, an underserved patient population who rarely receives palliative care.

Dr. Schenker was also the first author for a commentary published in JAMA describing some of the problems with the current specialty model of palliative care, and providing an alternative vision for the future. This commentary received considerable attention and led to several speaking invitations. In recognition of outstanding contributions such as this, Dr. Schenker was recognized by the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine with their Early Career Investigator Award in 2016.

Congratulations, Dr. Schenker!