Assistant Professor

Dr. Dzeng is a sociologist and hospitalist physician conducting research at the nexus of sociology, medical ethics, palliative and end-of-life care, and human-centered design. She is an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Division of Palliative Medicine and Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology program. She is an affiliated faculty member of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health based at the Global Brain Health Institute at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center. She completed her PhD in Medical Sociology and an MPhil in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge at King’s College as a Gates Cambridge Scholar and was a General Internal Medicine post-doctoral clinical research fellow and palliative care research fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. As an undergraduate and engineering graduate student at Stanford, she participated in the first class of Stanford's Biodesign Innovation program where she co-invented and patented a device to non-invasively cool the heart through the esophagus to prevent myocardial damage during a myocardial infarction (US Patent 7,758,623; 2010). In August, 2019 this patent was licensed to Attune Medical.

Her current research examines the influence of neoliberalism and specifically the culture and ethical implications of neoliberalism on an institution's ethical priorities in the United States and United Kingdom and its effects on the provision of non-beneficial high-intensity life-sustaining treatments near the end of life in older adults with dementia and serious illness. This research builds on her doctoral research which explored the influence of institutional cultures and policies on physicians’ ethical beliefs and how that impacts the way they communicate in end of life decision-making conversations. Through a comparative ethnography employing semi-structured in-depth interviews and participant observation, Dr. Dzeng seeks to understanding the macro-, meso-, and micro-sociological factors (and in particular ethical decision-making climate) that contribute to potentially non-beneficial high-intensity care near the end of life. Using this ethnographic data, she will subsequently co-design a systems-level intervention using human-centered design to mitigate the culture of burdensome end-of-life care.
Education
2018 - Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health, Global Brain Health Institute
PhD, 2016 - Medical Sociology, University of Cambridge
Fellowship, 2015 - General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Residency, 2011 - Internal Medicine, Columbia New York Presbyterian Hospital
MD, 2009 - , Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
MPhil, 2008 - Development Studies, University of Cambridge
MPH, 2007 - Health and Human Rights/Humanitarian Aid, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
BS, 2003 - Biological Sciences and History, Stanford University
MS, 2003 - Chemical Engineering, Stanford University
Honors and Awards
  • Alzheimer's Disease Research Award, California Department of Public Health, 2019-2024
  • NIH Loan Repayment Program Renewal Award, National Institute of Aging, 2019-2021
  • KL-2 Scholar, UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), 2017-2020
  • NIH Loan Repayment Program Award, National Institute of Health, 2017-2019
  • Junior Investigator Career Development Award, National Palliative Care Research Center (NPCRC), 2017-2019
  • Andrew Markus Scholarship, Ethox Centre for Bioethics and Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, 2016
  • Research Scholar Award, American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM), 2015-2016
  • Research Core Development Scholar, UCSF Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, 2015-2016
  • Ho-Chiang Palliative Care Research Fellowship, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2014-2015
  • Founders Grant Award, Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM), 2014-2015
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 2011-2015
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarship, University of Cambridge, 2007-2008
  • Delta Omega Public Health Honors Society Inductee, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2007
  • Watt Hansell Scholarship, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2006-2007
Websites
  • I am a sociologist and hospitalist physician conducting research at the nexus of palliative and end-of-life care, empirical bioethics, and sociology. I am an Assistant Professor at UCSF in the Division of Palliative Medicine and Social and Behavioral Sciences, Sociology program. I also direct the ethics curriculum for UCSF medical students. In addition, I am a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health based at the Global Brain Health Institute at UCSF’s Memory and Aging Center. I completed my PhD in medical sociology at the University of Cambridge at King’s College as a Gates Cambridge Scholar and was a general internal medicine post-doctoral clinical research fellow and palliative care research fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. I wrote my dissertation on the influence of institutional cultures and policies on physicians’ ethical beliefs and how that impacts the way they communicate in end of life decision-making conversations.

    My current research is focused on understanding the systemic factors (and in particular ethical decision-making climate) that contribute to overly aggressive, burdensome care at the end of life in older adults, focusing on older adults with advanced dementia in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. I also works on issues of physician moral distress as it pertains to burnout and physician alienation. I employ qualitative methods of comparative ethnography including semi-structured in-depth interviews and participant observation. I have also been involved in the statewide and UCSF response to the legalization of physician aid in dying in California (End of Life Option Act).

    My research is funded by the UCSF CTSI KL2 program, the National Palliative Care Research Center Junior Investigator Career Development Award, National Institute of Aging (GEMSSTAR R03), the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Alzheimer’s Society UK. I am a visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine as well as a visiting Assistant Professor in General Internal Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Publications
  1. Ethics in Conflict: Moral Distress as a Root Cause of Burnout.
  2. No Escalation of Treatment: Moving Beyond the Withholding/Withdrawing Debate.
  3. A Codified Process for Multidisciplinary Team Consensus Around the Termination of Life Sustaining Treatments (LST) in France: An Interview Study (S822).
  4. 395.
  5. Concurrent and Overlapping Surgery: Perspectives From Parents of Adolescents Undergoing Spinal Posterior Instrumented Fusion for Idiopathic Scoliosis.
  6. Reply to: Social Causes of Rational Suicide in Older Adults.
  7. Habermasian communication pathologies in do-not-resuscitate discussions at the end of life: manipulation as an unintended consequence of an ideology of patient autonomy.
  8. Response to "Added Points of Concern About Caring for Dying Patients".
  9. Reply to Rational Suicide in Older Adults: Not by Default an Ageist Concept.
  10. Can Growing Popular Support for Physician-Assisted Death Motivate Organized Medicine to Improve End-of-Life Care?
  11. How Should Physicians Care for Dying Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis?
  12. Facts and Fetishes: When the Miracles of Medicine Fail Us.
  13. Understanding ethical climate, moral distress, and burnout: a novel tool and a conceptual framework.
  14. Social Causes of Rational Suicide in Older Adults.
  15. Ethical Issues in the Design and Implementation of Population Health Programs.
  16. Homing in on the Social: System-Level Influences on Overly Aggressive Treatments at the End of Life.
  17. RESPONDING TO THE END-OF-LIFE OPTION ACT IN CALIFORNIA.
  18. When Teachable Moments Become Ethically Problematic.
  19. How California Prepared for Implementation of Physician-Assisted Death: A Primer.
  20. Addressing Palliative Care Clinician Burnout in Organizations: A Workforce Necessity, an Ethical Imperative.
  21. How Should Palliative Care Be Involved in the Response to Physician Assisted Dying in California? Intimately: Perspectives from a Statewide Conference (S795).
  22. Navigating the Liminal State Between Life and Death: Clinician Moral Distress and Uncertainty Regarding New Life-Sustaining Technologies.
  23. Populations and Interventions for Palliative and End-of-Life Care: A Systematic Review.
  24. Moral Distress Amongst Physician Trainees Regarding Futile Treatments.
  25. California's End of Life Option Act: Opportunities and Challenges Ahead.
  26. Moral Distress Amongst American Physician Trainees Regarding Futile Treatments at the End of Life: A Qualitative Study.
  27. Treatment escalation in the intensive care unit among patients with preexisting treatment limitations: best-laid plans gone awry?
  28. Influence of institutional culture and policies on do-not-resuscitate decision making at the end of life.
  29. Interaction of palliative care and primary care.
  30. Physicians’ Understanding of Patient Autonomy and Choice in Discussions Surrounding the Do-Not-Resuscitate Order (FR415-B).
  31. Public Attitudes on the Future Sustainability of Medicare
  32. Rationing healthcare: who's responsible?
  33. Media coverage of violent deaths in iraQ: an opportunistic capture-recapture assessment.
  34. Psychotropic medications and HIV.
  35. Enhancement of DNA vaccine potency through linkage of antigen gene to ER chaperone molecules, ER-60, tapasin, and calnexin.