Kathleen Foley, MD is an attending neurologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, where she has worked for more than four decades. In 1981, under Dr. Foley’s leadership, Memorial Sloan Kettering opened the first designated pain service in a cancer setting in the United States. Dr. Foley is a professor of neurology, neuroscience, and clinical pharmacology at the Weill Cornell Medical College, and holds the Society of Sloan Kettering Chair in Pain Research. She is the former medical director of the International Palliative Care Initiative, a core project under the Open Society Public Health Program.
In 1995, Dr. Foley became director of the Open Society Institute’s Project on Death in America, a $45 million, nine-year project focused on transforming the culture of death in the United States through initiatives in science, the humanities, education, and professional training. Recognizing a critical need for developing leaders and palliative care experts in order to facilitate change in patient care, Dr. Foley and her team created leadership programs for physicians, nurses, and social workers around the country, including at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
As director of the International Palliative Care Initiative at the Open Society Foundations, Dr. Foley worked with governments to develop pain and palliative care initiatives and policies. To date, the project has fostered more than 40 leaders from over 30 countries who will lead future palliative care efforts in their respective nations.
She is the past director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and has received numerous awards, including the Medal of Honor from the American Cancer Society, the David Karnovsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Frank Netter Award of the American Academy of Neurology.
Dr. Foley received her BS from St. John’s University, and then attended Cornell University Medical College, graduating as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. Dr. Foley went on to complete a medical internship and neurology residency at New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center, followed by a fellowship in neuro-oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.