Jimmie C Holland, MD, internationally recognized as the founder of the field of Psycho-oncology and the Founding President of the International Psycho-oncology Society (IPOS), died suddenly on December 24, 2017, at the age of 89. Dr. Holland, who was affectionately known by her first name “Jimmie”, had a profound global influence on cancer care and research; highlighting the critical importance of “whole person cancer care”, through her groundbreaking work on quality of life, screening for distress, and the psychological, social and emotional well being of cancer patients at all stages of diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.
Over a 40 year career at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), Jimmie created and nurtured the field of Psycho-oncology, established its clinical practice, advanced its clinical research agenda, and through her pioneering efforts, launched the careers of the leaders of a national and worldwide field who mourn her passing and continue to work in what has become a shared mission to emphasize “Care” in cancer care. IPOS was the brainchild of Dr Holland’s, and with the commitment of fellow international psycho-oncology pioneers, she helped found IPOS and guided its growth into the vibrant international movement it embodies today.
Dr. Holland was the Attending Psychiatrist and Wayne E. Chapman Chair at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Professor of Psychiatry, Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York. In 1977, Jimmie was appointed Chief of the Psychiatry Service in the Department of Neurology at MSK, by Jerome Posner, MD, then Chairman of Neurology at MSK. The Psychiatry Service at MSK was the first such clinical, research and training Service established in any cancer center in the world. In 1996, Dr. Holland was named the inaugural Chairwoman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; again the first such department created in any cancer center in the U.S. and the world. Dr. Holland founded the International Psycho-oncology Society (IPOS) in 1984 (and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society in 1986) . Over 25 years ago, Jimmie created and co-edited, the international journal Psycho-Oncology. Dr. Holland edited the first major textbooks of Psycho-oncology and recently edited the 3rd edition of the textbook “Psycho-oncology” in 2015. Jimmie co- wrote two well received books for the public: “The Human Side of Cancer”, and “Lighter as We Go: Virtues, Character Strengths, and Aging”; the latter reflecting her interests in Geriatric Oncology as she approached her 90th birthday.
Dr. Holland has received many awards recognizing her achievements over the course of her career. There are too many to list , however her awards include: The Medal of Honor for Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society, The Clinical Research Award from the American Association of Community Cancer Centers, The American Association for Cancer Research Joseph H Burchenal Clinical Research Award, and The Marie Curie Award from the Government of France. In recent years Dr. Holland committing her attention and energies to bring Psycho-oncology to Africa through her work with the African Organization for Cancer Research & Training in Cancer ( AORTIC). Jimmie was seeing patients up until 2 days before her death. IPOS has lost its founder, its guiding light, a pioneer, a remarkable woman and a once in a generation influencer. Her death is a profound loss for all of us in international psycho- oncology. We invite you to leave comments, thoughts and remembrances of Jimmie Holland in this IPOS condolence book.