Elizabeth Dzeng, PhD, MD, MPH

Areas of interest: Health equity, anti-racism, community-engaged research, structural racism, palliative and end-of-life care, human-centered design, medical sociology, bioethics, qualitative research
+1 415 443-1233

Dr. Dzeng is a sociologist and hospitalist physician conducting research at the nexus of sociology, medical ethics, palliative care, health equity, anti-racism, and human-centered design. She is an Associate Professor "In Residence" at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the Division of Hospital Medicine and Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology program, Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. She spends her time between San Francisco and London where she is a Senior Research Fellow at the Cicely Saunders Institute at King's College London. She is also a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, a Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and a Visiting Assistant Professor in General Internal Medicine at UCLA.

Her research program focuses on using sociological and human centered design methods to understand how institutional cultures and policies influence clinical practice patterns and how to change institutional culture to improve the quality of care. She conducts large-scale comparative ethnographic interview studies in the United States and the United Kingdom to understand the influence of institutional cultures and policies on clinicians’ ethical frameworks, communication practices, and clinical practice patterns around end-of-life care. A particular area of interest is around the influence of neoliberalism and specifically the culture and ethical implications of neoliberalism on an institution's ethical priorities around end-of-life care.

Her other major research focus is around using community-based participatory research methods to understand how structural racism across the life course influences the provision of quality end-of-life care in older Black adults. This project is in part funded by a NIA/NIH Beeson award and a Sojourns Scholars Leadership Award. In addition, she is working on several projects to improve equity and promote anti-racist care around hospitalist care at UCSF. One project, funded by UCSF's Caring Wisely award, is a new health advocate program to help support and advocate for African American and patients with limited English proficiency. A second project is a partnership with GLIDE, to expand their program, "Healers at the Gates" to create culture change around anti-racism and equity in UCSF's Division of Hospital Medicine.

Among her national leadership roles, Dr. Dzeng is on the Society of General Internal Medicine's (SGIM) Governing Council Executive Committee as an At-large Member, an Associate Editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM), and a member of the Executive Committee of the Research Centers Cooperative Network (RCCN), a national coordinating center of the National Institutes on Aging (NIA) center programs. She is also a past Chair of the SGIM Ethics Committee. A central focus of her local and national leadership efforts have been focused on anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes involvement as a member of the Task Force for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility for the Clinician-Scientists Transdisciplinary Aging Research (Clin-STAR) Coordinating Center, a national NIA platform for early career researchers in aging research; member of UCSF’s Taskforce on Anti-Racism and Equity in Research; a member of the Equity Committee of the Sojourns Scholars Leadership Program community; and a member of the UCSF Academic Senate's Equal Opportunity Committee.

Dr. Dzeng completed her PhD in Medical Sociology and an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge at King’s College as a Gates Cambridge Scholar where she wrote her doctoral thesis on the influence of institutional cultures and policies on physicians’ ethical beliefs and how that impacted the way they communicate in end of life decision-making conversations. She was also a General Internal Medicine post-doctoral clinical research fellow and palliative care research fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As an undergraduate and engineering graduate student at Stanford, she participated in the first class of Stanford's Biodesign Innovation program where she used design thinking to co-invented and patented a device to non-invasively cool the heart through the esophagus to prevent myocardial damage during a myocardial infarction (US Patent 7,758,623; 2010). In August, 2019 this patent was licensed to Attune Medical.

Outside of academic medicine, Dr. Dzeng is a competitive masters and club rower and has competed in races such as the Head of the Charles and won at the British Master Regatta. She is happiest when traveling the world, especially hiking and exploring the world's natural wonders.


Achieving Goals of Care Decisions in Chronic Critical Illness: A Multi-Institutional Qualitative Study.


Andersen SK, Yang Y, Kross EK, Haas B, Geagea A, May TL, Hart J, Bagshaw SM, Dzeng E, Fischhoff B, White DB

Physician Perspectives on Challenges in Understanding Patient Preferences for Emergency Intubation: A Qualitative Assessment of Hospital Code Status Orders.

CHEST Critical Care

Emily J. Shearer, Jacob A. Blythe, Sarah E. Wieten, Elizabeth W. Dzeng, Miriam P. Cotler, Karin B. Porter-Williamson, Joshua B. Kayser, Stephanie M. Harman, David C. Magnus, Jason N. Batten

Palliative care, homelessness, and restricted or uncertain immigration status.

Palliative care and social practice

Hudson BF, Dzeng E, Burnett A, Yeung M, Shulman C

Hospital Culture and Intensity of End-of-Life Care at 3 Academic Medical Centers.

JAMA internal medicine

Dzeng E, Batten JN, Dohan D, Blythe J, Ritchie CS, Curtis JR

Legacy and communication in palliative and end-of-life care: Honoring Dr. J. Randall Curtis.

Palliative & supportive care

Rosa WE, Hadler RA, Dzeng E, Sullivan DR, Epstein AS, Nelson JE

When Critically Ill Patients with Decision Making Capacity and No Further Therapeutic Options Request Indefinite Life Support.

The American journal of bioethics : AJOB

Batten JN, Dzeng E, Finder S, Blythe JA, Nurok M

"No Escalation of Treatment" Designations: A Multi-institutional Exploratory Qualitative Study.


Batten JN, Blythe JA, Wieten SE, Dzeng E, Kruse KE, Cotler MP, Porter-Williamson K, Kayser JB, Harman SM, Magnus D

A Call for Restorative and Transformative Justice Approaches to Anti-Racism in Medicine.

Journal of general internal medicine

Eniasivam A, Pereira L, Dzeng E

Anatomy of a Consult: How a Multidisciplinary Pediatric Stem Cell Transplant Team Considers Specialty Palliative Care Consultation (GP722).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Griffin Collins, Hannah Beaman, Alvin Ho, Michelle Hermiston, Harvey Cohen, Elizabeth Dzeng

How Does Hospital Culture Influence the Intensity of End-of-Life Care? (CO201D).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Elizabeth Dzeng, Jason Batten, Daniel Dohan, J Randall Curtis

J. Randall Curtis's Legacy and Scientific Contributions to Palliative Care in Critical Care.

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Dzeng E, Merel SE, Kross EK

“She Always Knew I Would Call”: The Role of Family Liaisons in Serious Illness Communications During the COVID-19 Pandemic (GP719).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Lingsheng Li, Amy Rosenwohl-Mack, Elizabeth Dzeng

Of care, cure and the in-between: COVID-19 treatment in a New York City intensive care unit.

International Journal of Care and Caring

Tobias Haeusermann, Heather Romero-Kornblum, Elizabeth Dzeng

Perceptions of specialty palliative care and its role in pediatric stem cell transplant: A multidisciplinary qualitative study.

Pediatric blood & cancer

Collins GS, Beaman H, Ho AM, Hermiston ML, Cohen HJ, Dzeng EW

An Interprofessional Process for the Limitation of Life-Sustaining Treatments at the End of Life in France.

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Blythe JA, Kentish-Barnes N, Debue AS, Dohan D, Azoulay E, Covinsky K, Matthews T, Curtis JR, Dzeng E

Spheres of Influence and Strategic Advocacy for Equity in Medicine.

Journal of general internal medicine

Karches K, DeCamp M, George M, Prochaska M, Saunders M, Thorsteinsdottir B, Dzeng E

How individual ethical frameworks shape physician trainees' experiences providing end-of-life care: a qualitative study.

Journal of medical ethics

Rosenwohl-Mack S, Dohan D, Matthews T, Batten JN, Dzeng E

We Need a Paradigm Shift Around End-of-Life Decision Making.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Dzeng E, Morrison RS

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Ethical Challenges Posed by Neoliberal Healthcare.

Journal of general internal medicine

Ahlbach C, King T, Dzeng E

Understanding Experiences of Moral Distress in End-of-Life Care Among US and UK Physician Trainees: a Comparative Qualitative Study.

Journal of general internal medicine

Rosenwohl-Mack S, Dohan D, Matthews T, Batten JN, Dzeng E

Variation in the design of Do Not Resuscitate orders and other code status options: a multi-institutional qualitative study.

BMJ quality & safety

Batten JN, Blythe JA, Wieten S, Cotler MP, Kayser JB, Porter-Williamson K, Harman S, Dzeng E, Magnus D

The Influence of Neoliberalism on Burdensome Life Sustaining Treatments Near the End of Life (RP313).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Elizabeth Dzeng, J. Randall Curtis, Thea Matthews, Jason Batten, Christine Ritchie, Daniel Dohan

Ethics and Spheres of Influence in Addressing Social Determinants of Health.

Journal of general internal medicine

DeCamp M, DeSalvo K, Dzeng E

A Society of General Internal Medicine Position Statement on the Internists' Role in Social Determinants of Health.

Journal of general internal medicine

Byhoff E, Kangovi S, Berkowitz SA, DeCamp M, Dzeng E, Earnest M, Gonzalez CM, Hartigan S, Karani R, Memari M, Roy B, Schwartz MD, Volerman A, DeSalvo K, Society of General Internal Medicine

Moral distress and burnout in caring for older adults during medical school training.

BMC medical education

Perni S, Pollack LR, Gonzalez WC, Dzeng E, Baldwin MR

Ethics in Conflict: Moral Distress as a Root Cause of Burnout.

Journal of general internal medicine

Dzeng E, Wachter RM

No Escalation of Treatment: Moving Beyond the Withholding/Withdrawing Debate.

The American journal of bioethics : AJOB

Batten JN, Blythe JA, Wieten SE, Dzeng EW

A Codified Process for Multidisciplinary Team Consensus Around the Termination of Life Sustaining Treatments (LST) in France: An Interview Study (S822).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Elizabeth Dzeng, Nancy Kentish-Barnes, J Randall Curtis, Anne-Sophie Debue


Critical Care Medicine

Jason Batten, Gregory Taylor, Jacob Blythe, Karin Porter-Williamson, Elizabeth Dzeng, Miriam Cotler, Joshua Kayser, Stephanie Harman, David Magnus

Reply to: Social Causes of Rational Suicide in Older Adults.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Dzeng E, Pantilat SZ

Reply to Rational Suicide in Older Adults: Not by Default an Ageist Concept.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Dzeng E, Pantilat SZ

Facts and Fetishes: When the Miracles of Medicine Fail Us.

The American journal of bioethics : AJOB

Dzeng E, Booth J

Social Causes of Rational Suicide in Older Adults.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society

Dzeng E, Pantilat SZ

Ethical Issues in the Design and Implementation of Population Health Programs.

Journal of general internal medicine

DeCamp M, Pomerantz D, Cotts K, Dzeng E, Farber N, Lehmann L, Reynolds PP, Sulmasy LS, Tilburt J

Homing in on the Social: System-Level Influences on Overly Aggressive Treatments at the End of Life.

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Dzeng E, Dohan D, Curtis JR, Smith TJ, Colaianni A, Ritchie CS


Innovation in Aging

L. Forbes, L. Petrillo, E. Dzeng, K.L. Harrison, B. Scribner, B. Koenig

When Teachable Moments Become Ethically Problematic.

Cambridge quarterly of healthcare ethics : CQ : the international journal of healthcare ethics committees

Dzeng E

How California Prepared for Implementation of Physician-Assisted Death: A Primer.

American journal of public health

Petrillo LA, Dzeng E, Harrison KL, Forbes L, Scribner B, Koenig BA

Addressing Palliative Care Clinician Burnout in Organizations: A Workforce Necessity, an Ethical Imperative.

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Harrison KL, Dzeng E, Ritchie CS, Shanafelt TD, Kamal AH, Bull JH, Tilburt JC, Swetz KM

How Should Palliative Care Be Involved in the Response to Physician Assisted Dying in California? Intimately: Perspectives from a Statewide Conference (S795).

Journal of Pain and Symptom Management

Laura Petrillo, Eric Widera, Elizabeth Dzeng, Krista Harrison, Lindsay Forbes, Barbara Koenig, Ben Scribner

Populations and Interventions for Palliative and End-of-Life Care: A Systematic Review.

Journal of palliative medicine

Singer AE, Goebel JR, Kim YS, Dy SM, Ahluwalia SC, Clifford M, Dzeng E, O'Hanlon CE, Motala A, Walling AM, Goldberg J, Meeker D, Ochotorena C, Shanman R, Cui M, Lorenz KA

California's End of Life Option Act: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead.

Journal of general internal medicine

Petrillo LA, Dzeng E, Smith AK

Moral Distress Amongst American Physician Trainees Regarding Futile Treatments at the End of Life: A Qualitative Study.

Journal of general internal medicine

Dzeng E, Colaianni A, Roland M, Levine D, Kelly MP, Barclay S, Smith TJ

Influence of institutional culture and policies on do-not-resuscitate decision making at the end of life.

JAMA internal medicine

Dzeng E, Colaianni A, Roland M, Chander G, Smith TJ, Kelly MP, Barclay S, Levine D

Interaction of palliative care and primary care.

Clinics in geriatric medicine

Ghosh A, Dzeng E, Cheng MJ

Public Attitudes on the Future Sustainability of Medicare

Journal of Health Care Financing

Xu T, Goldstein E, Dzeng E, Dy S, Nicholas LH

Rationing healthcare: who's responsible?

Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.)

Dzeng E, Smith TJ

Media coverage of violent deaths in iraQ: an opportunistic capture-recapture assessment.

Prehospital and disaster medicine

Siegler A, Roberts L, Balch E, Bargues E, Bhalla A, Bills C, Dzeng E, Epelboym Y, Foster T, Fulton L, Gallagher M, Gastolomendo JD, Giorgi G, Habtehans S, Kim J, McGee B, McMahan A, Riese S, Santamaria-Schwartz R, Walsh F, Wahlstrom J, Wedeles J

Psychotropic medications and HIV.

Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America

Thompson A, Silverman B, Dzeng L, Treisman G

Enhancement of DNA vaccine potency through linkage of antigen gene to ER chaperone molecules, ER-60, tapasin, and calnexin.

Journal of biomedical science

Lin CT, Chang TC, Chao A, Dzeng E, Soong YK, Hung CF, Lai CH