Palliative Care McGill

bernard.lapointe [at] (Dr. Bernard Lapointe)
(514) 340-8222 x 22845

Program Advisor:
devon.phillips [at] (Devon Phillips)
(514) 934-1934 x 42996

Research Director:
robin.cohen [at] (Dr. Robin Cohen)
(514) 340-8222 x 25676

Education Director: Dr. Donald Ginsberg


In 1994 Dr. Balfour Mount became the founding Director of the Division of Palliative Medicine in the Gerald Bronfman Department of Oncology and the inaugural holder of the Eric M. Flanders Chair in Palliative Medicine, thanks to the generous support of Mrs. Kappy Flanders. Dr. Anna Towers succeeded Dr. Mount and served as Director of the Division for ten years (1999-2009). In 2009, Dr. Bernard Lapointe became the second holder of the Eric M. Flanders Chair in Palliative Medicine as well as the new Director of the Division which was re-named Palliative Care McGill (PCM).

Palliative Care at McGill-Affiliated Health Care Institutions

In 1974 Dr. Mount established a palliative care service at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Today palliative care services are delivered at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) - Glen Site (Cedars Cancer Centre, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal Children’s Hospital), the Jewish General Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital Center, Mount Sinai Hospital and the West Island Palliative Care Residence (WIPCR). Services include inpatient/outpatient care, tertiary consults, daytime clinical care, pain management, lymphedema treatment and treatment for cancer cachexia.

Palliative Care Research

The Research Director for Palliative Care McGill is Dr. Robin Cohen.

Palliative Care McGill quality of life research is best known for its internationally-acclaimed McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire - MQOL (Robin Cohen) which has been translated into 15 languages, as well as for its attention to bereavement issues (Mary Ellen Macdonald, Christopher MacKinnon, Robin Cohen, Antoine Beauchemin). PCM is also exploring ways of meeting the needs of the many family caregivers who are so essential to the provision of palliative care (Robin Cohen, Christopher MacKinnon, Jamie Penner, Monica Parmar, Bernard Lapointe, Bessy Bitzas, Esther Laforest).

Our oncology-related palliative care research includes work in pain medicine and pain management (Bernard Lapointe), lymphedema (Anna Towers), cachexia and cancer nutrition rehabilitation (Antonio Vigano, Anna Towers, Monica Parmar), psychological and existential wellbeing (Melissa Henry, Robin Cohen, Anita Mehta, Antoine Beauchemin), and patient experience (Bessy Bitzas). PCM research also focuses on people with advanced heart disease (Esther Laforest, Robin Cohen), First Nations (Mary Ellen Macdonald), ethical issues (Chris Macdonald, Bessy Bitzas, Anna Towers, Hadi Karsoho), and health care (Robin Cohen, Esther Laforest, Genevieve Chaput, Bessy Bitzas).

In collaboration with McGill Programs in Whole Person Care, PCM is exploring the potential for mindfulness-based medical practice to prevent professional caregiver burnout (Tom Hutchinson, Stephen Liben).

Under the experienced guidance of Mary Ellen Macdonald, PhD (Program Head), Pediatric Palliative Care Research at McGill is on the leading edge of this young discipline. Nationally networked, this group of researchers including Franco Carnevale, Gillian Chilibeck, Stephen Liben, Crystal Noronha, Marie-Claude Proulx, Vaso Rahimzadeh, Lisa Anne Rasmussen, Moire Stevenson and Argerie Tsimicalis, focuses on clinically pertinent and theoretically grounded studies. Family bereavement, quality of life in children with cancer, and the unique needs of health professionals working in pediatric palliative care are among this group's compelling topics of interest and expertise.


Education and Training

Dr. Donald Ginsberg is the current Education Director for Palliative Care McGill, a position previously held by Dr. Golda Tradounksy. PCM members teach a number of palliative care topics in the undergraduate medical education curriculum such as the impact of cancer on families, caring for dying patients at home, end-of-life care for the pulmonary patient and living and dying with dignity. There is also a Royal College-accredited postgraduate palliative medicine program as well as a Year of Added Competency program. A day-long interdisciplinary Continuing Professional Education workshop is held every two years and features expert clinicians from palliative medicine, palliative nursing, neurology, psychiatry, and psychology. Finally, throughout the year there are palliative care rounds which are accessible to institutions across Quebec via videoconference.

International Congress on Palliative Care

In 1976 Dr. Mount and colleagues hosted the first International Congress on Palliative Care which subsequently became a biennial event. The Congress attracts approximately 1700 participants from over 60 countries. 70% of the participants are Canadian, 20% American, and 10% from overseas. Produced by a team of outstanding scholars, the Congress encourages a unique multi-disciplinary convergence of oncologists, physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, spiritual care workers, therapists, and others who normally remain isolated in their respective fields of research or practice.

The Congress is bilingual, with sessions presented in English as well as in French, and simultaneous interpretation for selected sessions, offering a program that provides up-to-the-minute ideas and research findings of interest to participants from any discipline and from any part of the world.

The twin goals of the Congress are to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss and share their latest work, and to offer the most up-to-date information available on palliative care to all who provide end-of-life care.


Palliative Care McGill has provided leadership and advocacy nationally and internationally. For example, they have advocated for provincial and federal governments to prioritize and improve access to palliative care services, and played a key role in the establishment of the first Senate Committee on Palliative Care.


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