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We are an interdisciplinary team of researchers drawing from sociology, bioethics, and clinical medicine to improve serious illness care and hospital-based care and to advance health equity.

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Research Mission

​Understanding how broader social and structural forces influence our ability to provide equitable, patient-centered serious illness and hospital-based care and co-designing systems-level interventions to improve that care.​

About Us

Dr. Liz Dzeng leads a vibrant, interdisciplinary research group at UCSF operating at the nexus of the social sciences, ethics, and clinical medicine. Our team’s research weaves together approaches from sociology, medical ethics, end-of-life care, anti-racism, and human-centered design to offer new perspectives on critical challenges within contemporary healthcare, particularly those related to health equity and quality of end-of-life care. Broadly speaking, our group seeks to understand how broader social and structural contexts influence access to healthcare and the quality of care.

Featured Publication

Hospital Culture and Intensity of End-of-Life Care at Three Academic Medical Centers

Dzeng E, Batten JN, Dohan D, Blythe J, Ritchie C, Curtis JR


We describe how hospital culture and institutional structures affect the escalation of high-intensity, potentially non-beneficial life-sustaining care near the end of life. We conducted 113 interviews with hospital-based clinicians and administrators across three West Coast academic hospitals. We found that hospital policies, practices, protocols, and resources could either promote or thwart the American default towards high-intensity end-of-life care. These findings highlight the importance of intentionally designed hospital policies and their impact on the provision of potentially non-beneficial, life-sustaining treatments.

Liz presenting a poster

Core Team

Elizabeth Dzeng headshot

Elizabeth Dzeng, MD, PhD, MPH, MPhil, MS

Principal Investigator

Sharifa's headshot

Sharifa Brooks-Smith-Lowe, MSc

Research Assistant

Sofia Weiss Goitiandia headshot

Sofia Weiss Goitiandia, MA, MSc 

Associate Specialist

Julia's head shot

Julia Axelrod, BA

Research Assistant

Amber Martin Headshot

Amber Martin, PhD, MPH, LPC, NCC

Research Associate

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Catthi Ly, MPhil

Research Assistant

Partners & Funders

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