Anthony Back, MD

by Jasmine Batchelor

May 14, 2019

Co-Founder, VitalTalk and Co-Director,
University of Washington Center for Excellence in Palliative Care

Dr. Anthony Back is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, Division of Oncology. He is Co-Director of the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence with Dr. Randy Curtis. His research on patient-physician communication has been funded by the National Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Arnold P Gold Foundation and many others. He was a faculty scholar for the project on Death and America. He co-founded VitalTalk as a 501 c3 foundation with Dr. Robert Arnold and Dr. James Tulsky, to use a startup entrepreneurship approach to disseminating clinician-skills training for serious illness. He created the first video online illustrations of communication skills, created the first smartphone teaching app for this purpose, and the first video blog, still ongoing at For over a decade he has been a senior teacher at the Upaya Institute’s Being with Dying contemplative practice program, and the Resilient program for the American Society of Clinical Oncology Professional Development program. Currently, he is the principal investigator for Care.Lab a national initiative funded by the John A Hartford Foundation, to scale up innovations for serious illness.

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