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The one hundred honoree: William F. Pirl, MD, MPH

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The one hundred honoree: William F. Pirl, MD, MPH

Mass General Giving

As the director of the Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences at the Mass General Cancer Center, William Pirl, MD, MPH, is a leader, an innovator, and above all, a clinician focused on providing cancer patients with emotional and mental support during cancer treatment. Mental health is often ignored, but Dr. Pirl champions psychological well-being as a critical front-line tool in the battle against cancer.

Jennifer Temel, MD, clinical director of Thoracic Oncology at Mass General says, “Dr. Pirl simply has an acute awareness of the needs of cancer patients and has designed a well thought out clinical and research program to meet their needs.”

Not content to simply provide high quality care on-site, Dr. Pirl constantly seeks innovative ways to provide vital care to patients who usually cannot access psychiatric oncology services. He developed the first Tele-PsychOnc service in the country, ensuring that several network hospitals could gain real-time access to psychiatric oncology, a critical service not available in many communities.

On the research front, Dr. Pirl builds on the Cancer Center’s expertise in tumor genotyping with a research focus in depression and tumor genotypes in non-small cell lung cancer. He also conducts research about quality of life, including fatigue, anxiety and mood disorders and the connection between managing psychiatric disorders and overall cancer survival.

Dr. Pirl collaborates with the Cancer Research Outcomes Group, and was an author on the landmark New England Journal of Medicine paper about early intervention of palliative care. He also helps to oversee the American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant at Mass General, which provides funding for psycho-social studies.