The 2012 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the early-career physician category honor Justin N. Baker MD, FAAP, FAAHPM, who holds three positions at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis: director of the division of Palliative and End-of-Life Care, attending physician in the Quality of Life Service, and director of the Hematology/Oncology Fellowship Program. He is recognized for his outstanding leadership and research on palliative care for children.

Dr Baker has walked with many families as they battled pain, suffering, and psychosocial distress in the face of a child’s advancing cancer. He has cared for hundreds of dying children and their families and helped develop a model for delivering palliative care in a child’s “medical home” – wherever the child is receiving medical care. His efforts helped earn the Quality of Life Service the 2010 St Jude Outstanding Clinical Improvement Award. He is one of only a handful of physicians across the country with board certification in pediatrics, pediatric hematology/oncology, and hospice and palliative medicine.

Dr Baker’s research focuses on ethical considerations surrounding enrollment in Phase I clinical trials. He has participated in more than 25 studies related to pediatric palliative care and has written more than 50 manuscripts, abstracts, and book chapters on the subject. His research has demonstrated the powerful positive impact of integrating high quality palliative care into the ongoing care of children suffering from serious illnesses.

On top of a full schedule as a physician, Dr. Baker finds the time to be deeply involved in his community, from coaching youth soccer to serving as a college career leader at his church. In the words of his nominator, Liza-Marie Johnson, MD, MPH, a fellow in pediatric hematology/oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr Baker is “a tireless physician and researcher, a devoted husband and father, and a pillar of the Memphis community.”

He received his medical degree from University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio in 2001.