Amy Pickar Abernethy, MD

Professor of Medicine
Professor in the School of Nursing
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Member in the Duke Clinical Research Institute
Campus mail Duke Box 3436, Durham, NC 27710
Phone (919) 668-0647
Email address

Amy P. Abernethy, MD PhD
Director, Center for Learning Health Care
Director, Duke Cancer Care Research Program
Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Duke University School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Nursing, Duke University School of Nursing

Dr. Abernethy, a hematologist/oncologist and palliative care physician, is Professor of Medicine in the Duke University School of Medicine, Director of the Duke Center for Learning Health Care (CLHC) in the Duke Clinical Research Institute, and Director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program (DCCRP) in the Duke Cancer Institute. With over 375 publications, she is an internationally recognized expert in health services research, comparative effectiveness research, patient reported outcomes (PROs), clinical informatics and patient-centered care.

Dr. Abernethy is an appointee to the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum, Immediate Past President of the American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Personalized Medicine Coalition, Co-Chair of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group, Co-Chair of the PRO Core for the NIH Collaboratory Program, and Chair of the PRO Task Force for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute National Clinical Research Network.  She Co-Leads the Learning Health System Training Program at Duke.  She serves on the Board of Directors for athenahealth.  Dr. Abernethy participates integrally in current high-level national and international discussions about reforming the evidence development system, presenting a model for a rapid learning health care that coordinates clinical and research functions to better serve patients’ needs in an evidence-driven, cost-effective, and patient-centered manner.

Clinically, Dr. Abernethy was previously responsible for the care of patients with melanoma, in conjunction with the surgeons and radiation oncologists of the Duke Melanoma Clinic. She is Principal Investigator on major international studies for metastatic melanoma, and has published in areas pertinent to the epidemiology of melanoma, longitudinal care patterns, and improving the melanoma patient experience. Dr. Abernethy also previously attended on Duke's palliative care service, with special focus on improving the quality of life for people affected by advanced cancer including their families. Dr. Abernethy completed medical training, residency, and a fellowship in hematology and oncology at Duke University.

Education and Training

  • Fellow In Hematology Oncology, Medicine, Duke University, 1999 - 2001
  • Chief Medical Resident, Medicine, Duke University, 1998 - 1999
  • Fellow In Hematology Oncology, Medicine, Duke University, 1997 - 1998
  • Medical Resident, Medicine, Duke University, 1994 - 1997
  • M.D., Duke University, 1994


Jiang, BS, Speicher, PJ, Thomas, S, Mosca, PJ, Abernethy, AP, and Tyler, DS. "Quality of life after isolated limb infusion for in-transit melanoma of the extremity." Annals of surgical oncology 22, no. 5 (May 2015): 1694-1700.

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Kamal, AH, Hanson, LC, Casarett, DJ, Dy, SM, Pantilat, SZ, Lupu, D, and Abernethy, AP. "The quality imperative for palliative care." Journal of pain and symptom management 49, no. 2 (February 2015): 243-253.

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Havrilesky, LJ, Alvarez Secord, A, Ehrisman, JA, Berchuck, A, Valea, FA, Lee, PS, Gaillard, SL, Samsa, GP, Cella, D, Weinfurt, KP, Abernethy, AP, and Reed, SD. "Patient preferences in advanced or recurrent ovarian cancer." Cancer 120, no. 23 (December 2014): 3651-3659.

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Taylor, DH, Danis, M, Zafar, SY, Howie, LJ, Samsa, GP, Wolf, SP, and Abernethy, AP. "There is a mismatch between the medicare benefit package and the preferences of patients with cancer and their caregivers." Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology 32, no. 28 (October 2014): 3163-3168.

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Bartley, EJ, Edmond, SN, Wren, AA, Somers, TJ, Teo, I, Zhou, S, Rowe, KA, Abernethy, AP, Keefe, FJ, and Shelby, RA. "Holding back moderates the association between health symptoms and social well-being in patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation." Journal of pain and symptom management 48, no. 3 (September 2014): 374-384.

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Currow, DC, and Abernethy, AP. "The science of breathlessness: '… as we come onto the home straight, Science is catching Clinical Practice. Just two lengths between them'." Current opinion in supportive and palliative care 8, no. 3 (September 2014): 189-190.

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Moroni, M, Zocchi, D, Bolognesi, D, Abernethy, A, Rondelli, R, Savorani, G, Salera, M, Dall'Olio, FG, Galli, G, Biasco, G, Balduzzi, A, Bandi, G, Baraldini, L, Bauleo, S, Bertini, L, Borghi, P, Calzoni, P, Camanzi, M, Cammarata, A, Casarini, P, Cau, R, Deni, C, Ehrlich, S, Ermini, G, Franco, L, Furlo, G, Grandi, M, Luigi Lalli, A, Maccaferri, M, Marzo, C, Masi, A, Matra, A, Mazzetti Gaito, P, Montanari, F, Oggianu, M, Ognibene, G, Palasciano, M, Palestini, S, Perrone, F, Quadrelli, S, Rappacciolo, A, Rubini, S, Salera, M, Santi, S, Savorani, G, Serio, A, Maria Severino, A, Siena, M, Speziali, P, Spinnato, L, Tosetti, C, Velona, P, Verri, A, and Zocchi, D. "The 'surprise' question in advanced cancer patients: A prospective study among general practitioners." Palliative Medicine 28, no. 7 (July 1, 2014): 959-964.

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Abernethy, AP. "Demonstrating the learning health system through practical use cases." Pediatrics 134, no. 1 (July 2014): 171-172.

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Howie, L, Hirsch, B, Locklear, T, and Abernethy, AP. "Assessing the value of patient-generated data to comparative effectiveness research." Health affairs (Project Hope) 33, no. 7 (July 2014): 1220-1228.

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LeBlanc, TW, and Abernethy, AP. "Building the palliative care evidence base: Lessons from a randomized controlled trial of oxygen vs room air for refractory dyspnea." Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network : JNCCN 12, no. 7 (July 2014): 989-992.