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Here with Growth – Palliative Care Institute

Helping People Live Well through Collaborative Research

The Palliative Care Institute (PCI) was established to advance the scope of palliative care awareness, education and research. PCI not only seeks to educate current and future professionals about palliative care, but also the community at large. The PCI research team is here to improve quality of life and experience for hospice patients and their families. Hospice and palliative care research projects range from person-centered studies to programmatic studies that translate into better hospice care and tangible quality-of-life improvements.

We collaborate with clinicians and the academic community, as well as partner with community providers. Our research interests include end-of-life dreams and visions, delirium, and other psychosocial interventions that seek to improve the quality of life of the hospice and palliative care population. Many of these studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals, and a few studies have garnered national attention, appearing in The New York TimesThe Huffington PostScientific American Mind, and Psychology Today. To learn more about our work, please visit our Publications section or our YouTube channel.

Meet the Research Team

Chris Kerr
Christopher W. Kerr, MD, PhD  
CEO & Chief Medical Officer

Pei Grant
Pei C. Grant, PhD
Director of Research


Kate Levy, MSW
Clinical Researcher

Collaborations and Partnerships

We are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with researchers from diverse disciplines. We believe that research teams should not be isolated as independent silos, but should instead work together to generate high impact research. We have had collaborations with various departments at the University at Buffalo, Daemen College, Canisius College, and community providers. If you’re interested, please contact Pei Grant.

Select Publications

20202019 | 2018 | 20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012


Raed Al Yacoub, MD; Debra Luczkiewicz, MD; and Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD: Acute Kidney Injury and Hepatitis Associated with Energy Drink Consumption: A Case Report

Kathryn Levy, MSW, AdvStat; Pei C. Grant, PhD; and Christopher W. Kerr, MD. PhD: End-of-Life Dreams and Visions in Pediatric Patients: A Case Study


Kathryn Levy, MSW, AdvStat, Pei C. Grant, PhD,Kelly E. Tenzek, PhD, Rachel M. Depner, MS, PhD(c) Megan E. Pailler, PhD, and Lynda K. Beaupin, MD: The Experience of Pediatric Palliative Caregiving: A Qualitative Analysis From the Photographs of Meaning Program.

Kathryn Levy, MSW, AdvStat, Pei C. Grant, PhD, Rachel M. Depner, MSW, PhD(C),David J. Byrwa, MS, Debra L. Luczkiewicz, MD, and Christopher W. Kerr, MD, PhD: End-of-Life Dreams and Visions and Posttraumatic Growth: A Comparison Study.

Grant PC, Depner RM, Levy K, LaFever SM, Tenzek KE, Wright ST, Kerr CW. Family Caregiver Perspectives on End-of-Life Dreams and Visions during Bereavement: A Mixed Methods Approach. J Palliat Med. July 2019. doi:10.1089/jpm.2019.0093.

Mupamombe CT, Luczkiewicz D, Kerr C. Dexmedetomidine as an Option for Opioid Refractory Pain in the Hospice Setting. J Palliat Med. 2019. doi:10.1089/jpm.2019.0035.

Beaupin LK, Pailler ME, Brewer-Spritzer E, Kishel E, Grant PC, Depner RM, Tenzek KE, Breier JM. Photographs of meaning: A novel social media intervention for adolescent and young adult cancer patients. Psychooncology. 2019;28(1):198-200. doi:10.1002/pon.4896.

Levy K, Grant PC, Depner RM, Tenzek KE, Pailler ME, Beaupin LK, Breier JM, Byrwa DJ. The Photographs of Meaning Program for Pediatric Palliative Caregivers: Feasibility of a Novel Meaning-Making Intervention. Am J Hosp Palliat Med. 2019;36(1):557-563. doi:10.1177/1049909118824560.


Natalie M. Latuga, Mary Gordon, Paula Farwell & Megan O. Farrell: A Cost and Quality Analysis of Utilizing a Rectal Catheter for Medication Administration in End-of-Life Symptom Management, Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy.

Rachel M. Depner, Pei C. Grant, David J. Byrwa, Jennifer M. Breier, Jennifer Lodi-Smith, Debra L. Luczkiewicz, and Christopher W. Kerr: “People Don’t Understand What goes on in Here”: A Consensual Qualitative Research Analysis of Inmate-Caregiver Perspectives on Prison-Based End-of-Life Care.


Jennifer M. Breier, Scott T. Meier, Christopher W. Kerr, Scott T. Wright, Pei C. Grant and Rachel M. Depner: Screening for Delirium: Development and Validation of the Buffalo Delirium Scale for Use in a Home-Based Hospice Setting. 

Emily L. Mroz, MS, Michael J. Poulin, PhD, Pei C. Grant, PhD, Rachel M. Depner, MS, Jennifer Breier, MSEd, MS, CRC, David J. Byrwa, MS, and Scott T. Wright, MS: Caregiver Self-Esteem as a Predictor of Patient Relationship Satisfaction: A Longitudinal Study.

Kelly E. Tenzek and Rachel Depner: Still Searching: A Meta-Synthesis of a Good Death from the Bereaved Family Member Perspective. 25 April 2017. Behavioral Sciences.  

Scott T. Wright, Jennifer M. Breier, Rachel M. Depner, Pei C. Grant & Jennifer Lodi-Smith: Wisdom at the end of life: Hospice patients’reflections on the meaning of life and death. Counselling Psychology Quarterly.  09 Jan 2017.


Rachel M. Depner, Pei C. Grant, David J. Byrwa, Jennifer M. Breier, Jennifer Lodi-Smith, Christopher W. Kerr & Debra L. Luczkiewicz (2016): A consensual qualitative research analysis of the experience of inmate hospice caregivers: Posttraumatic growth while incarcerated, Death Studies, DOI: 10.1080/07481187.2016.1237591


O’Connor T, Ngamphaiboon N, Groman A, Luczkiewicz DL, Kuszczak SM, Grant PC, Kerr CW: Hospice Utilization and End of Life Care in Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients at a Comprehensive Cancer Center. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2015: 18 (1).


Kerr CW , Donohue KM, Tangeman JC, Serehali AM, Knodel SK, Grant PC, Luczkiewicz DL, Mylotte K, Marien JS. Cost Savings Associated with a Home-Based Palliative Care Program Implemented as a Hospice-Private Payer Partnership. 2014; 17 (12).

Wright ST, Grant PC, Depner RM, Donnelly JP, Kerr CW. Meaning-Centered Dream Work with Hospice Patients: A Mixed Methods Study. Palliative and Supportive Care. Oct. 15th, 2014: 1-19.

Lachaal CM, Celebrating Life Stories Tthrough Music at the End of Life. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2014: 17 (12).

Tangeman JC, Rudra CB, Kerr CW, Grant PC. A Hospice-Hospital Partnership — Reducing Hospitalization Costs and 30-Day Readmissions Among Seriously Ill Adults. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2014:17(9).

Kerr CW, Tangeman JC , Rudra CB, Grant PC,Luczkiewicz DL, Mylotte KM, Riemer WD, Marien MJ, Serehali AM. Clinical Impact of a Home-Based Palliative Care Program: A Hospice-Private Payer Partnership. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. April 18th, 2014.

Marabella S, Camp Blue Skies: A Journey of Grief, Healing and Hope. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2014: 17(6).

DiPizio A, Celebrating Life at the End of Llife: The Birthday Brigade. Journal of Palliative Care. 2014: 17(3).

Nosek CL, Kerr CW, Woodworth J, Wright ST, Grant PC, Kuszczak SM, Banas A, Luczkiewicz DL, Depner RM. End- of- Life Dreams and Visions: A Qualitative Perspective from Hospice Patients. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 2014: 32 (3).

Kerr CW, Donnelly JP, Wright ST, Kuszczak SM, Banas A, Grant PC, Luczkiewicz DL. End-of-Life Dreams and Visions: A Longitudinal Study of Hospice Patients’ Experiences. Journal of Palliative Care. 2014: 17 (3).

Wright ST, Kerr CW, Doroszczuk NM, Kuszczak SM, Hang PC, Luczkiewicz DL. The Impact of Dreams of the Deceased on Bereavement: A Survey of Hospice Caregivers. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 2014: 31 (2).

Kerr CW, Luczkiewicz DL, Holahan T, Milch R, Hang PC. The Use of Pentobarbital in Cases of Severe Delirium: A Case Series. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. 2014; 31 (1).


Szarpa KL, Kerr CW, Wright ST, Luczkiewicz DL, Hang PC, Ball LS. The Prodrome to Delirium: A Grounded Theory Study. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. 2013; 15(6):332-337.

Kerr CW, Donnelly JP, Wright ST, et al. Progression of delirium in advanced illness: a multivariate model of caregiver and clinician perspectives. J Palliat Med. Jul 2013; 16(7):768-773


Waldrop DP, Meeker MA, Kerr C, Skretny J, Tangeman J, Milch R. The Nature and Timing of Family-Provider Communication in Late-Stage Cancer: A Qualitative Study of Caregivers’ Experiences. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2012; 43(2):182-194.

Kerr CW, Drake J, Milch RA, et al. Effects of Methylphenidate on Fatigue and Depression: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2012; 43(1):68-77.

Kerr C, Holahan T, Milch R. The use of ketamine in severe cases of refractory pain syndromes in the palliative care setting: a case series. J Palliat Med. Sep 2011; 14(9):1074-1077.


Photographs of Meaning (POM) Program

Click here to view photos
from the 2018 exhibit.

Click here to view POM video 

Click here to view photos from the 2017 exhibit.


We have enjoyed working with collaborators from various universities:

Interested in being on the PCI team?

If you enjoy research or would like experience volunteering, please email Pei Grant to learn about our opportunities.

Contact Us

Director of Research, Pei Grant, Ph.D. announced as Buffalo Business First’s 40 Under 40 Honoree 


Pei Grant, Ph.D has been awarded the 2019 Business First’s 40 Under 40. This annual award recognizes local individuals who have demonstrated success in their careers and have made significant contributions to their community. Pei became the Director of Research in 2012 and led an effort that was unprecedented nationally, launching and growing a research department within a community-based hospice and palliative organization. Establishing a unique research and educational effort outside of a traditional setting, such as a university, required innovation, advocacy, and an ability to develop partnerships. Pei had the courage and a willingness to create an effort where none existed. Since then Pei has forged a pathway of research excellence for the organization within the field, with her team’s work being recognized both on a national and international level. She is committed to enhancing patient and family care through research, not just at the bio-medical level, but also the psycho-social-spiritual dimensions. Pei believes in revolutionizing how we can use research and education to address key challenges in the healthcare of people with life-limiting illness. The 2019 honorees will be recognized at a Nov. 22 luncheon at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. 


SAGE Podcast:

“People Don’t Understand What goes on in Here”: A Consensual Qualitative Research Analysis of Inmate-Caregiver Perspectives on Prison-Based End-of-Life Care