I am a board-certified psychiatrist whose expertise focuses on the psychiatric aspects of pain, symptom control, and palliative care in cancer patients. I have been Chief of the Psychiatry Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center since 1996 and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences since 2009, and currently serve as Chair of the Department. I provide individual interventions to patients, couples, and family members. In addition, I am the psychiatric liaison to the Hepatobiliary Disease Management Team and the Palliative Medicine Service. I am also a member of the Brain Tumor Center faculty.
I also lead the psychotherapy laboratory, which conducts novel counseling interventions for cancer patients at all stages of disease and cancer types as well as couples and families. My research interests have included fatigue related to cancer and AIDS; depression in terminally ill AIDS and cancer patients; meaning-centered psychotherapy for advanced cancer patients; and delirium research.
I helped to establish the American Psycho-Oncology Society (APOS), I am the President of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS), and I am the past president of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, all organizations of specialists in my field. In addition, I am on the board of directors of many other medical societies. I am the recipient of the 2009 Willet F. Whitmore Award for Clinical Excellence from Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the 2009 Arthur Sutherland Award for Lifetime Achievement in the field of psycho-oncology from IPOS. Additionally, I am a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and was a faculty scholar of the Project on Death in America. I am editor-in-chief of the international palliative care journal entitled Palliative and Supportive Care.
- Clinical Expertise: Management of Depression, Delirium, Pain, Fatigue,Distress, End of Life Care
- Languages Spoken: English
- Education: MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
- Residencies: Bronx Municipal Hospital Center
- Fellowships: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Board Certifications: Internal Medicine; Psychiatry
Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.
Clinical Trials Co-Investigated by William S. Breitbart
- Care for the Cancer Caregiver: A Meaning-Based Workshop to Help Manage Caregiver Burden
- Development of a Screening Tool to Identify Family Members in Need of Support During Palliative Care and Bereavement
- Development of Group Interventions for Breast Cancer Survivors
- Development of Psychotherapeutic Interventions for Parents Who Lost a Child to Cancer
- Integrating Tobacco Treatment into Cancer Care
Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.Learn more