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Randy Curtis, MD, passed away on Feb. 6, surrounded by family. Curtis was a professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the UW School of Medicine and a holder of the A. Bruce Montgomery – American Lung Association Endowed Chair in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine.

Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he received his medical degree from Johns Hopkins and did his residency and fellowship at the UW School of Medicine. He was a chief resident at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar. He also received an MPH from the University of Washington. He was appointed to the UW School of Medicine faculty in 1996, rising through the ranks to professor in 2013. He held adjunct appointments in the UW Departments of Health Services and Biobehavioral Nursing & Health Systems and the UW School of Medicine Department of Bioethics & Humanities.

He served as the section head of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Harborview Medical Center for eight years. He was also a member of the medical executive board of Harborview and chair of the ethics committee. Nationally, he served on many committees and boards as president of the American Thoracic Society.

A leader in palliative care

Curtis had an outstanding national and international reputation as a scholar. His investigative work focused on end-of-life and palliative care with the goal of improving care for people with terminal conditions through patient-clinician communication about end-of-life care and the integration of palliative care in the ICU setting.

In 2012, he founded and directed the Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, which strives to improve palliative care for people of all ages with serious illness and for their families by integrating research, education and clinical care.

He received countless awards throughout his career, including the Robert Evans Award for understanding, compassion and concern for others, the Philip J. Fialkow Scholars Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Thoracic Society and more.

A dedicated mentor

Curtis was diagnosed with bulbar-onset amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in March of 2021. He continued his work in palliative care and continued to mentor others, which he said was one of the most rewarding parts of his job.

To commemorate his mentoring legacy, 11 of his mentees wrote about him in “What Does it Mean to be an Excellent Mentor? J. Randall ‘Randy’ Curtis’ Living Legacy” and published in a special issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in June 2022.

Originally posted on the Department of Medicine website and written by Amy Fields.