Clinical Advisor

Timothy E. Quill, MD

Timothy E. Quill, M.D, is a Distinguished Professor of Palliative Care, and Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Medical Humanities and Nursing at the University of Rochester School of Medicine (URMC). He was the Founding Director of the URMC Palliative Care Program.


Dr. Quill has published and lectured widely about various aspects of the doctor-patient relationship, with special focus on end-of-life decision making, including delivering bad news, nonabandonment, discussing palliative care earlier, and exploring last-resort options. He is the author/editor of several books on end-of life, including Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking as a Last Resort Option (Oxford University Press, forthcoming July 2021), Physician-Assisted Dying: The Case for Palliative Care and Patient Choice (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004), Caring for Patients at the End of Life: Facing an Uncertain Future Together (Oxford University Press, 2001), and A Midwife Through the Dying Process: Stories of Healing and Hard Choices at the End of Life (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996).  He is the author of over 150 articles published in major medical journals including “Death and Dignity: A Case of Individualized Decision Making” published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1991. Dr. Quill was the lead physician plaintiff in the New York State legal case challenging the law prohibiting physician-assisted death that was heard in 1997 by the U.S. Supreme Court (Quill v. Vacco).


Dr. Quill received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College (1971), and his M.D. from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC 1976). He completed his Internal Medicine residency in 1979 and a Fellowship in Medicine/Psychiatry Liaison in 1981, both from the URMC. Dr. Quill is a past president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, and a founding board member of American Academy on Communication in Healthcare. He has been a practicing palliative care consultant for over 40 years.


“Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.”  

– Margaret Wheatley

“As a long-time palliative care physician, I have witnessed first-hand the range of human emotion and of difficult decision-making when patients approach the end of their lives. Most of us hope to live as long and as fully as possible, and then die peacefully. We also hope that our lives will feel “completed” when that happens, and if death comes quickly and easily, we – and those who care about us – will feel lucky we died according to our wishes. But if death does not come easily, then we need a committed, skilled medical partner who will not be afraid to jointly face this unknown, potentially challenging terrain with us.”