The 2011 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the midcareer physician category honor Anthony Nicholas Galanos, MA, MD, medical director of the Duke University Hospital Palliative Care Service in Durham, N.C. Dr. Galanos is also an associate professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Geriatrics, at the Duke University Medical Center; a senior research fellow in Duke’s Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development; and an associate faculty scholar in the Duke Institute on Care at the End of Life.

For more than a decade, Dr. Galanos worked tirelessly to establish the palliative care service at Duke Hospital, and his efforts have resulted in a dramatic improvement in the quality of end-of-life care for patients, families, and providers. Last year, the service completed over 500 consults – most of them provided by Dr. Galanos himself. “His mastery of skills critical to outstanding palliative care physicians, such as communication, symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual support, and care coordination are best represented by the comments of those who directly benefit from his care – patients, families, and other providers,” said Kimberly S. Johnson, MD, assistant professor of pedicine, Duke University Medical Center, who nominated Dr. Galanos.

As one family member put it, “Palliative care, end-of-life care, comfort care – what you call it is not nearly so important as the end result: the offering of peace and dignity for a patient, a person, who is beginning to die. Losing someone you love causes indescribable pain that touches deep into one’s soul. Tony helps establish an atmosphere of calmness and acceptance that fosters a good death, one where the love we fear losing is in the end strengthened.”

Johnson also commented that the dialogue between Dr. Galanos and his patients is often filled with laughter and that he has the unique ability to get a laugh or smile from patients who are gravely ill, giving them something to focus on other than their illness.

Dr. Galanos received his MA in Clinical Psychology from the University of Dayton in 1978 and his MD from University of South Alabama in 1986.