Roadmap Scholar to help cancer patients

July 15, 2014 11:00 AM

Keith Brannon

Tulane clinical psychologist Michael Hoerger understands all too well the agonizing treatment choices families face when a loved one is diagnosed with advanced cancer. How do some patients remain hopeful and resilient even under the darkest of circumstances while others disengage? 

Michael Hoerger

Clinical psychologist Michael Hoerger studies ways hospitals can ease the emotional burden of decision making for people facing terminal cancer. (Photo by Sally Asher)

Thanks to a recent award by the Louisiana Clinical and Translational Science (LACaTS) Center, Hoerger will get the chance to delve deeply into the matter to develop ways hospitals can help ease the emotional burden of healthcare decision making for people facing terminal cancer. LACaTS selected Hoerger as a 2014 Roadmap Scholar. 

Hoerger will be studying interventions to help terminal cancer patients better engage with physicians and family members to make informed, shared choices about treatment options.

“Deciding whether to continue treatments is a very emotionally burdensome process,” Hoerger says. “Patients may not be fully aware that they are dying and some may pursue aggressive care even if there is no chance that their life will be saved. What we are trying to figure out is how can we reduce the emotional burden of that process.”

The scholars program provides mentorship, tuition and salary support to help promising young researchers launch a successful career in clinical and translational research. Scholars, together with their mentors, design individual research “roadmaps” that includes courses in clinical research methodology, as well as mentored research with the aim of competing successfully for an NIH Career Transition Award or its equivalent.

The scholars program, directed by Dr. Roy Weiner of Tulane and Dr. Paula Gregory of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, is the centerpiece of the Clinical Research, Mentoring and Career Development Core of the LACaTS Center. The center’s mission is to encourage, support and expand clinical and translational research through partnerships with researchers and with the people they serve.

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