The 2011 Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Physician Awards in the early-career physician category honor Eric W. Widera, MD, director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Service of San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. In his work, which focuses on geriatrics and palliative medicine, he has passionately advocated for improving the care given to elderly patients with severe chronic conditions.

Stan Horn nominated Dr. Widera after seeing first hand the care that his brother received at the hospice unit of the VA Medical Center. “At our first meeting, Dr. Widera told us that we could call him Eric and he gave us his pager number,” he wrote. Horn detailed how Dr. Widera continued that level of caring and compassion both in treating his brother and in talking with family and friends even after his brother’s death. “Dr. Widera has shown a significant and diversified degree of leadership and impact as a role model for other physicians in the community.”

As a clinician-educator at University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Widera has been a driving force in a number of innovations, including the creation of a monthly interdisciplinary palliative care conference at the medical center. He has received numerous awards for his educational accomplishments. Most recently, he has been examining the role social media plays in the education of professionals in palliative medicine and is a cofounder of geripal.org, an online forum for health professionals in geriatrics and palliative medicine.

Dr. Widera received his medical degree from University of California, San Francisco, in 2002.