The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


Ali J. Zarrabi MD

Assistant Professor

Emory University

Grant Year
Grant Term
2 years
Grant Type
Kornfeld Scholars Program

Project Description
Characterizing Biopsychosocial Complexity in Outpatient Palliative CareĀ 
The purpose of this NPCRC mentored award is to support Dr. Ali John Zarrabi’s career development through a rigorous training program intentionally-designed to expand his skills as a clinician-investigator who will advance the science of outpatient palliative care (OPC).  His training plan includes the following objectives: 1) gain proficiency in mixed methods research; (2) learn regression and latent variable modeling; (3) increase knowledge of the clinical management of social determinants of health, emotional disorders, and state-of-the-science regarding psychosocial interventions in palliative care; and (4) gain skills in scientific leadership and grantsmanship.Environment. Supporting his career development experience is a mentoring team of established clinicians and researchers who have an outstanding track record of mentoring junior investigators. As an Assistant Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory, he will have full access to the resources and institutional capital of the School of Medicine as well as Emory and Grady’s well-established OPC practices.  Research. Over the past 20 years, PC has expanded rapidly from inpatient, crisis-focused care to the outpatient setting where specialists manage patients’ chronic physical symptoms and psychosocial and spiritual needs often for months to years before the end-of-life.  However, the tools and training of PC clinicians remain rooted in crisis-focused care in inpatient settings. This approach does not enable clinicians to manage the full range of needs of patients receiving longitudinal care earlier in their illness and upstream of the end-of-life. Increased knowledge of the diverse biopsychosocial needs of OPC populations is critical to improve the quality of patient care. This information will facilitate the identification of appropriate targets for patient-centered interventions. For this reason, Dr. Zarrabi proposes the foundational work of characterizing the phenotypic profiles of patients in OPC – a necessary precursor to designing intervention trials aimed at improving seriously ill patients’ quality-of-life. 

Ali John Zarrabi, MD, received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Brown University through the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME).  He completed internal medicine residency and palliative medicine fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His clinical, teaching, and scholarly pursuits are focused on supporting the healthy adaptation of adults living with a life-changing illness, primarily in the outpatient setting.  His research addresses identifying biopsychosocial and spiritual needs among the seriously ill and studying the role of emerging medications and psychotherapies to treat existential distress.