New Division of Quality of Life and Pediatric Palliative Care

Division of Quality of Life and Pediatric Palliative Care: Justin Baker, MD, FAAP, FAAPHM, Alexis Morvant, MD, FAAP, David Mauser, MD, Jessica Moriarty, MD

We are thrilled to announce the creation of a new Division of Quality of Life and Pediatric Palliative Care within the Department of Pediatrics. We’ve recruited two extraordinary additions to our world-class palliative care team: Drs. Justin Baker and Alexis Morvant will join the faculty in the coming month and will build upon the storied legacies of Dr.Harvey Cohen, MD, PhD and Barbara Sourkes, PhD. 

Justin Baker MD, FAAP, FAAHPM has been appointed Professor of Pediatrics, inaugural Chief of the Division of Quality of Life and Pediatric Palliative Care within the Department of Pediatrics, and Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Associate Chief Quality Officer for Patient Experience and Holistic Care. Dr. Baker is internationally recognized as an outstanding clinician, mentor, educator aswell as an innovative clinical investigator.

Dr. Baker received his M.D. from the University of Texas Health Science Center where he also completed his residency, followed by a fellowship at St. Jude’s Research Hospital.  Dr. Baker is a founding team member of the Quality of Life for All (QOLA) Service (the St. Jude palliative care team). He also founded and continues to lead the St Jude Bereaved Parent Steering Council and Bereaved Parent Mentoring Program. 

Dr. Baker is viewed as a leader in integration of palliative care concepts into the ongoing care of children with cancer. He co-led the effort to create a model designed to facilitate integration of palliative care principles into the care of suffering children and their families – the Individualized Care Planning and Coordination Model. This model emphasizes relationships and employs a patient– and family– centered approach in information delivery, needs assessment, and understanding the patient’s and family’s illness experience. He has published numerous studies demonstrating the positive outcomes resulting from the integration of palliative care into the ongoing care of children with cancer. 

Dr. Baker is an NIH R01-funded researcher and internationally recognized physician-scientist with more than 250 publications. His main research interests include communication and decision-making, ethical considerations surrounding enrollment in Phase I clinical trials, palliative care in resource constrained settings, grief and bereavement issues, integrating palliative care into the ongoing care of children with cancer, as well as patient-reported outcomes and pain and symptom control. Additionally, the community-based pediatric palliative care program that he established in 2012 (QoLA Kids) established a new paradigm for home-based hospice and palliative care and serves as an optimal model for institutions across the world.

Dr. Baker has served on the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Diversity and Inclusion Task Force since 2018. His scholarship includes a publication entitled “Racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes among long-term survivors of childhood cancer: A scoping review”.  He was awarded the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine Young Investigator Award for his studies on the associations of race with do-not-resuscitate status or the number or timing of end-of-life care discussions at a pediatric oncology referral center.

Involvement in the education of the next generation of clinicians and researchers has been a priority for Dr. Baker. He led the St. Jude’s hematology/oncology fellowship program for 13 years. He created and served as the associate fellowship director for the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship program - at the time, the 3rd pediatric palliative care fellowship program in the country. Dr. Baker’s outstanding reputation and record as a mentor has been recognized by many national programs. He has developed rigorous training models to promote QoL and palliative care education for trainees and staff, including quarterly QoL didactics and End-of-Life Nursing Education Consortium curricula. He also led an effort to create and implement a communication curriculum for clinical trainees that positively impacted clinical fellows’ comfort level with delivering “bad news” with sustained benefits.

Additionally, Dr. Baker has remained dedicated to global initiatives, having created and co-led the St. Jude’s Global Palliative Care Transversal Program which has conducted numerous educational activities, research projects (ADAPT) and QI-based intervention studies and is viewed as the leader in Global Pediatric Palliative Oncology.

Dr. Baker has received numerous national and local/regional awards including the Hastings Center Cunniff-Dixon Award as well as being named an American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine Inspirational Leader in Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

Alexis Morvant,MD, MA, FAAP, our incoming Medical Director and Clinical Associate Professorof Pediatrics, is widely recognized as a dedicated and generous clinician, mentor, and educator as well as an innovative leader in the field of pediatric palliative care.

Dr. Morvant received her MA in Bioethics from Loyola Marymount University and her MD from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine. She completed her pediatric residency at Vanderbilt University and her fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Boston Children’s, and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She joined Louisiana State University‘s faculty and was appointed Service Line Chief of Pediatric Palliative Care at Children’s Hospital New Orleans in 2018, developing the first Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Program dedicated to Pediatrics in Louisiana. In 2019, Dr. Morvant joined the faculty of Tulane University’s School of Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics as well as Medical Ethics and Human Values. She has extensive clinical and academic experience in palliative care, ethics, serious illness communication, programmatic implementation, development, and sustainability. 

Paramount to Dr. Morvant’s achievements are her fierce advocacy and her innovative and collaborative approach. She founded and led the Gulf States Pediatric Palliative Care Consortium, which has over 50 members and nine disciplines spanning Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Their advocacy efforts changed Louisiana law to Pediatric Concurrent Care to improve access and reimbursement of services to their sickest children, which is one of the most robust concurrent care programs in the U.S. She founded the first Schwartz Center Rounds Program dedicated to Pediatrics in Louisiana. She founded the Gold Humanism Honor Society Chapter at LSU School of Medicine. She founded the Pediatric Palliative Care Developing Programs Consortium, composed of 45 program directors spanning U.S., Canada, and South America.

Dr. Morvant was recently elected to serve as the Co-Chairperson of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Hospice and Palliative Medicine Advocacy Subcommittee and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Care Representative to the National Pediatric Palliative Care Taskforce.She is the recipient of numerous awards, including 2022 American Academy Hospice and Palliative Care Leaders Scholar, given to five early career leaders per year.She also received the 2022 Woman of the Year (New Orleans City Business), the 2022 Healthcare Hero of New Orleans, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Award recognizing LSU faculty who exemplify positive mentoring and model diversity, equity and inclusion values, as well as the 2022 LSU Gold Humanism Honor Society Chapter Honoree and the 2022 AAMC Humanism in Medicine Recipient (invited to give Keynote Speech for the LSU White Coat Ceremony).

With Dr. Morvant’s leadership expertise andextensive programmatic development experience, she will join us in November as our new Medical Director! 

Drs. Baker and Morvant will join Drs. Jessica Moriarty and David Mauser who have so capably provided palliative care servicesas the first faculty to join this new Division.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Fisher, MD in his role as Chair of the Search Committee and to all of the Committee members for their service in this national search.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Morvant and Dr. Baker to these roles and extending our gratitude to Dr. Cohen and Dr. Sourkes for their distinguished service as the founding leaders of this program.