September 12, 2013–Jane Carrie Weeks, MD ’84, MSc ’91, a prominent researcher at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, internationally known for building the discipline of outcomes research in oncology and admired by colleagues as an outstanding mentor, died on September 10 after a long illness.
She was “one of the true intellectual pillars of the Harvard medical community,” said Dana-Farber President Edward Benz, Jr., MD.
Dr. Weeks was Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health, Director of the McGraw-Patterson Center for Population Sciences, and Chief of the Division of Population Sciences within the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber. She also served as the program leader for Outcomes Research at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.
Dr. Weeks received her MD from Harvard Medical School and her MSc in health policy and management from Harvard School of Public Health. She completed postgraduate training in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and in medical oncology at Dana-Farber, joining the faculty in 1992.
This past June, Dr. Weeks received a 2012-13 William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award from Harvard Medical School. At that time, her Dana-Farber colleague and mentee Deborah Schrag, MD, said, “Jane asks the critical questions about how we deliver clinical care—questions that have changed the way we think about and practice cancer medicine at its most profound level. In addition to her powerful intellect and analytic rigor, Jane is the consummate mentor. Her trainees now populate the field of health services research in oncology across the country.”
In 1995, Dr. Weeks founded Dana-Farber’s Center for Outcomes and Policy Research. She was an influential scientist in the field of outcomes research, which focuses on the benefits, risks, and results of treatment and takes into account patients’ experiences and preferences. She published more than 200 scientific papers on a broad range of topics related to cancer prevention and treatment, cost-effectiveness of health services, racial disparities in health care and patient preferences about end-of-life care.
Dr. Weeks was a pioneer in comparative effectiveness research, which addresses the reality that many decisions about cancer treatment must be made with imperfect evidence. While clinical trials can provide some answers, Dr. Weeks built other resources that brought together a broad array of clinical data and included the perspectives of patients and their families. This novel approach enabled an understanding of the population-wide impact of cancer treatments and has helped to guide decision-makers at both the individual and policy level.
Among her many leadership roles, Dr. Weeks led the Cancer Care Outcomes Research and Surveillance Consortium (CanCORS), a six-year study funded by the National Cancer Institute, which examined the experiences of 10,000 patients from across the United States throughout their treatment. The study searched for clues as to why some groups, such as the elderly and minorities, sometimes receive lower-quality care or achieve inferior outcomes.
Dr. Weeks was widely sought after by thought leaders and known for her ability to innovate, stimulate creative thinking and forge novel collaborations. She was renowned for both her brilliance and her generosity.
Dr. Weeks is survived by her husband, Barrett Rollins, MD, PhD, Linde Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Chief Scientific Officer and Faculty Dean for Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Memorial services are being scheduled.
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Jane C. Weeks, MD, MSC Junior Population Science and Clinical Investigator Endowment Fund. To make your gift online, please visit: www.dana-farber.org/janeweeks. To give by mail, please send a check payable to Dana-Farber to: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place West, Brookline, MA 02445, noting “Jane Weeks Fund” in the memo field. Gifts may also be charged by phone by calling the Development Office at 1-617-632-6099.
—Richard Saltus, Dana-Farber Communications