Clinician of the Year Award

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

2022      Helen S. Kao, MD 
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