Helen S. Kao, MD
The AGS Clinician of the Year Award recognizes exceptional health professionals who deliver outstanding care to older adults and who model the importance of geriatrics for our country. This year’s honoree is Helen S. Kao, MD, who is Medical Director of Clinical Innovations at Lumina Hospice & Palliative Care, and Adjunct Professor at UCSF School of Medicine.
Dr. Kao, a board-certified physician in internal medicine with certificates of added qualifications in geriatrics and hospice and palliative care, has created programs to serve older adults with advanced and terminal illnesses. She directed UCSF’s house calls program and was responsible for tripling its capacity to serve older adults. In her current role at Lumina Hospice and Palliative Care in Corvallis, Oregon, Dr. Kao continues to develop and provide palliative and geriatrics services by overseeing a growing palliative case management program.
Promoting diversity in geriatrics is an essential aspect of Dr. Kao’s career. As Chair of the Residential Ombudsman and Public Guardian Advisory Board (ROPGAP), she advocates for Oregonians with disabilities and helps elevate the caregiver workforce which is predominantly made up of women and BIPOC individuals. In this role, Dr. Kao helps shape the advocacy priorities of the board, which focus on protecting the rights of people with dementia, mental health conditions and intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Invited to present to scores of regional and national meetings and symposia, Dr. Kao has authored or co-authored textbooks on topics in geriatrics, and her articles have been published in leading peer-reviewed medical journals.
An AGS member since 2007, Dr. Kao received her BA cum laude from Harvard and her MD from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, where she served residency in the Program in Residency Investigation Methods and Epidemiology (PRIME) Internal Medicine and fellowship in Geriatrics. She has been honored for professional excellence by some 20 prestigious awards—including UCSF’s Council of Master Clinicians and most recently the Elizabeth Wessinger Award, recognizing people who make a difference for end-of-life care in Oregon and across the nation.
Past Recipients of the Clinician of the Year Award
2021 Faith Atai, MD
2020 James Lin, DO, MS, MHSA
2019 Kellie Flood, MD
2018 J. Eugene Lammers, MD, MPH, FACP, AGSF
2017 Fatima Sheikh, MD, CMD, MPH
2016 Lisa Tank, MD, FACP
2015 Ronald S. Duemler, MD, MS, CMD
2014 Pamela S. Tronetti, DO, AGSF
2013 Rosemary D. Laird, MD, MHSA
2012 Niharika N Suchak, MBBS, MHS, FACP
2011 Margaret A. Noel, MD
2010 Jerome Epplin, MD, AGSF
2009 Michelle S. Eslami, MD
2008 Valisa Saunders, MN, APRN, BC, GNP
2007 Rebecca D. Elon, MD, MPH
2006 F. Michael Gloth, II, MD, FACP
2005 Henry Schneiderman, MD, FACP
2004 Roy Bradford Whitney, Jr., MD
2003 Taylor Graves, MD
2002 Jerry M. Earll, MD
2001 Daniel Haimowitz, MD, FACP, CMD
2000 Steven C. Castle, MD
1999 Samuel C. Durso, MD
1998 Mary Ann Forciea, MD
1995 Mary A. Johnson-Crockett, MD
1994 Gary E. Applebaum, MD
1993 Francis Salerno, MD