Personal profile


David W. Kissane, MD is an academic psychiatrist, psycho-oncology researcher and author. He is currently the Head of Psychiatry for Monash University in Australia, recently the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and previously the Foundation Chair of Palliative Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

His academic interests include group, couples and family psychotherapy trials, communication skills training, studies of existential distress, and the ethics of end-of-life care. He developed a cognitive-existential model of group therapy for women with early stage breast cancer, which ameliorated fear of recurrence, and his trial of supportive-expressive group therapy for advanced breast cancer showed the prevention of depression alongside improved quality of life. He is best known for his model of family therapy delivered to andlsquo;at risk' families during palliative care, which prevents complicated grief and depression in bereavement. His work on demoralization as a variation of depression in the medically ill has preceded interventions to promote meaning-based coping.

At MSKCC, Prof Kissane established a Communication Skills Training and Research Laboratory, which developed an applied curriculum for oncology, training over 700 clinicians. His books include the Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care with Oxford University Press, Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care with Wiley-Blackwell, Cancer and Depression for the World Psychiatric Association and Family Focused Grief Therapy with Open University Press. Prof. Kissane was awarded the Jimmie C. Holland Chair in Psycho-oncology at MSKCC and was recognized by the International Psycho-Oncology Society in 2008 with their Arthur Sutherland Award for lifetime achievement.

Clinical activities

Attending Psychiatrist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Memorial Hospital, New York, NY
Liaison attachments with Breast, Head and Neck and Gynecologic Disease Management Teams. Outpatient clinics twice weekly. Inpatient consultation and Psychiatry Fellow Supervision once weekly.

1998 - 2003
Development of a Psycho-oncology Service at St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia; 10% effort. Conduct of weekly outpatient and inpatient consultation-liaison service to the oncology unit and hospice inpatients.

1996 - 2003
Monthly supervision of psycho-social services at Melbourne Citymission and Eastern Palliative Care, community-based programs.

1996 - 2003
Provision of a consultation-liaison service to Caritas Christi Hospice at its Kew and Fitzroy Campuses

1996 - 2003
Weekly supervision of Senior Registrar training in Psychiatry, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Research area keywords

  • psycho-oncology
  • palliative care
  • psychotherapy trials
  • family/couples/group therapy

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

Recent external collaboration on country/territory level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots or