Yael Schenker, MD, MAS

  • Director, Palliative Research Center (PaRC)
  • Professor of Medicine

Dr. Yael Schenker is Professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics at the University of Pittsburgh, where she also directs the Palliative Research Center (PaRC). She is a practicing palliative medicine physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Her research focuses on the integration of palliative care in oncology, with a particular focus on developing and evaluating new models to improve provision of “primary” palliative care within outpatient oncology practices. She has led large-scale trials evaluating palliative interventions with seriously-ill patients and is widely sought-after as a mentor and collaborator. Her work has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, the National Palliative Care Research Center, the Palliative Care Research Cooperative, and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation.

In addition to palliative care research, she loves hiking, biking, national parks, and international travel. She lives in Highland Park with her husband, two kids, and a dog.

Education & Training

  • BA, Harvard University, 1995
  • MD, University of California, San Francisco, 2004
  • Internship, University of California, San Francisco, 2005
  • Residency, University of California, San Francisco, 2007
  • Fellowship in General Internal Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 2010
  • MAS, Clinical Research, University of California, San Francisco, 2010

Representative Publications

Schenker Y, Crowley-Matoka M, Dohan D, Rabow MW, Smith CB, White DB, Chu E, Tiver GA, Einhorn S, Arnold RM. Oncologist factors that influence referral to subspecialty palliative care clinics. J Oncol Pract. 2014;10(2):e37-44. 

This multisite qualitative interview study identified oncologist barriers to specialty palliative care referrals at sites with well-established specialty palliative care services.

Schenker Y, White D, Rosenzweig M, Chu E, Moore C, Ellis P, Nikolajski P, Ford C, Tiver G, McCarthy L, Arnold R. Care management by oncology nurses to address palliative care needs: a pilot trial to assess feasibility, acceptability and perceived effectiveness of the CONNECT intervention. J Palliat Med. 2015;18(3):232-240. 

CONNECT is an oncology nurse-led primary palliative care intervention for patients with advanced cancer.  This pilot study established the feasibility, acceptability, and perceived effectiveness of this model.

Kavalieratos D, Corbelli J, Zhang D, Dionne-Odom JN, Ernecoff NC, Hanmer J, Hoydich ZP, Ikejiani DZ, Klein-Fedyshin M, Zimmermann C, Morton SC, Arnold RM, Heller L, Schenker Y. Association between palliative care and patient and caregiver outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2016;316(20):2104-2114. 

In this meta-analysis, palliative care interventions were associated with improvements in patient quality of life and symptom burden. 

Schenker Y, Park SY, Jeong K, Pruskowski J, Kavalieratos D, Resick J, Abernethy A, Kutner J.  Associations between polypharmacy, symptom burden, and quality of life in patients with advanced, life-limiting illness.  Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2019.

This analysis found that among adults with advanced illness, taking more medications is associated with higher symptom burden and lower quality of life.

Click here for a more complete bibliography of Dr. Schenker's works.

Research Interests

  • Primary palliative care in oncology
  • Opioid use in serious illness
  • Geriatric palliative care
  • Surrogate decision making and informed consent