Jimmie Holland, M.D.
Jimmie Holland, MD, psychiatrist, has been a pioneer in the effort to improve the psychological care of patients with cancer around the world. In fact, because of this, she is called the “mother of psycho-oncology.” Years of speaking to patients of all ages at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center led her to focus in recent years on how older people cope with aging and illness. She teamed up with Mindy to explore the issue in more depth and found the important role which character strengths play in sustaining us in older years.
Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., recognized internationally as the founder of the subspecialty of psycho-oncology, is Attending Psychiatrist and holds the first endowed chair in Psychiatric Oncology, the Wayne E. Chapman Chair at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. She is Professor of Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She began the first full-time psychiatric service in a cancer hospital in 1977 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and was appointed first chair when it became the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in 1995. From this base, the concept of psycho-oncology evolved to become a nationally and internationally recognized subspecialty of oncology. The Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences has trained over 300 psychologists and psychiatrists. More recently, Dr. Holland started the Geriatric Psychiatry team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which focuses on the needs of older survivors. In March, 2015, she will have the honor of receiving the Margaret Kripke Award for Women in Science.
Dr. Holland studied the prevalence and nature of psychological problems in patients with cancer in the 1970s and established the first committee studying psychological issues in a cooperative group, the Cancer Leukemia Group B. In the 1980s she became the Founding President of the International Psycho-oncology Society (1984) and of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (1986). Dr. Holland has been senior editor of the Oxford University Press textbooks in psycho-oncology, first The Handbook of Psycho-Oncology, (1989); Psycho-Oncology, (1998); and the Second Edition (2010) and Third Edition (2015). In 1992, she started the first international journal in the field, Psycho-Oncology, and continues as co-editor. Dr. Holland and Sheldon Lewis co-authored a book to help patients and their families cope with cancer, The Human Side of Cancer, (HarperCollins, 2000). Dr. Holland has chaired the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) Panel on Management of Distress since its beginning in 1997, providing the first clinical practice guidelines. She is a Member of the Institute of Medicine. Her role as “mother” of psycho-oncology is being highlighted in the 2015 Ken Burns PBS documentary, “The Emperor of All Maladies.” Dr. Holland has received awards from American organizations, and she received the first Marie Curie Award in this country from the Institute Curie in Paris. She is married to Dr. James Holland, pioneer medical oncologist and Editor of the Holland-Frei textbook, Cancer Medicine. They have six children and 10 grandchildren.
Over the past seven years, Dr. Holland has directed a research group exploring the psychological issues for older people. A psychotherapy delivered by phone or in group addresses the unique issues they face of aging and illness. An offshoot is the Vintage Readers Book Club, which stimulates elders to read the world’s “vintage” classical literature. With Mindy Greenstein, they are bringing new research on aging to public awareness to reduce the fears and negative attitudes about aging.