Michael Rabow MD, FAAHPM

Michael W. Rabow, MD, FAAHPM

Michael Rabow MD, FAAHPM

Professor of Medicine and Urology
Helen Diller Family Chair in Palliative Care


BA 1987, Anthropology, Harvard College, Cambridge, MA
MD 1993, Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA


Michael W. Rabow, MD, FAAHPM, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine and Urology in the Division of Palliative Medicine Medicine, Department of Medicine, at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the inaugural recipient of the Helen Diller Family Chair in Palliative Care. Board-certified in internal medicine and hospice & palliative care, Dr. Rabow is founding director of a leading outpatient palliative care consultation program-- the Symptom Management Service-- at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. He is also the founding director of the UCSF/Bakar Hospital Palliative Care Consultation Service.

After receiving his undergraduate degree with summa cum laude honors from Harvard College, Dr. Rabow attended UCSF for medical school and general internal medicine residency training. He completed fellowships at UCSF in general medicine, as well as in medical education research.

  1. Rabow is the Associate Director of the UCSF Palliative Care Leadership Center (PCLC) and a member of the curriculum development committee for the PCLC Initiative nationally. The PCLC Initiative has trained more than 1500 hospital-based palliative care programs in the United States. Previously, Dr. Rabow helped direct the California Hospital Initiative in Palliative Services, the first program to support the development of hospital-based palliative care services in California. In additional, Dr. Rabow served as a technical advisor and member of the leadership team for the Archstone Foundation’s Hospital-Based Palliative Care Service Innovations project.

Dr. Rabow is a member of the UCSF Academy of Medical Educators. He was Assistant Editor for the bimonthly section in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled “Perspectives on Care at the Close of Life.” This series also appears as a palliative care textbook, Care at the Close of Life. He serves as the Director of the Center for the Study of the Healer’s Art at the Remen Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Wright State University. Dr. Rabow is the Associate Editor of the world’s best-selling annually-updated general medicine textbook, Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment.

Dr. Rabow is the executive producer of “The Caregivers” documentary film and accompanying family caregiver handbook. He has written and taught widely about family caregiving and communication with patients and families around serious news and existential issues at the end-of-life.

Dr. Rabow served as a Soros Foundation Project on Death in America Faculty Scholar and has been recognized for his work in palliative care as a 2012 recipient of the Cunniff-Dixon Foundation Physicians Award from the Hastings Center. Dr. Rabow was selected as the winner of the 2017 AAHPM PDIA National Palliative Care Leadership Award.

Clinical Interests

Present for the development of the field of clinical palliative care in the US, Dr. Rabow has been practicing palliative care at UCSF since 1996.  Dr. Rabow kept an active primary care medicine practice as well for more than 20 years, but now practices palliative care exclusively.  He takes care of patients with all types of cancer and has a special forcus on quality of life for men with prostate cancer and women with metastic breast cancer.  In addition, Dr. Rabow emphasizes the importance of family caregivers and meaning in the care of people facing serious illness.

Research Interests

Dr. Rabow is a national expert in outpatient palliative care research and service delivery.  He conducted one of the few controlled trials to date of outpatient palliative care consultation, as well as multiple surveys of current outpatient palliative care consultation practices nationally.  Dr. Rabow serves as a consultant to U.S. hospitals and hospital systems working to develop or expand their palliative care services.  Dr. Rabow serves as a consultant to numerous prominent professional or philanthropic organizations dedicated to expanding outpatient palliative care access and quality.  He served as the lead of the project advisory board for the “Improving Palliative Care in the Outpatient Setting” (IPAL-OP) initiative at the Center to Advance Palliative Care.  He is one of the core members of the “Palliative Care Action Community” (PCAC) of the California Healthcare Foundation and a core advisor to the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California’s “Palliative Care Access Project” (PCAP).  He directed the outpatient palliative care service assessment team for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.  His widely-published research work is in palliative care, family caregiving, and end-of-life care education.  His current research work is focused on home-based palliative care services as well as dignity and coping at the end of life.

Patient Contact

Symptom Management Service
Gateway Building

UCSF Mission Bay Campus
San Francisco, CA 95114
415.885.7671 (Phone)
415.353.9522 (Fax)