Thomas J Smith, M.D.

Headshot of Thomas J Smith
  • The Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Medicine
  • Professor of Oncology


Hospice and Palliative Care, Medical Oncology, Pain Management, Palliative Care more

Research Interests

Palliative Care

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Outside of Maryland & Washington D.C.

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International Patients

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Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

Appointment Phone: 410-955-8964
401 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21231
Phone: 410-955-2091 | Fax: 410-955-2098
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center - Google Maps

The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance)

1800 Orleans St.
Sheikh Zayed Tower
Baltimore, MD 21287
Phone: 410-955-8964
The Johns Hopkins Hospital (Main Entrance) - Google Maps


Thomas Smith, M.D., is a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, director of Palliative Medicine for Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Care. 

He is a medical oncologist and a palliative care specialist with a lifelong interest in better symptom management, communication, and improving access to high quality affordable care. Dr. Smith began Johns Hopkins' hospital-wide palliative care consult service as well as an inpatient unit, and he is dedicated to accelerating palliative care research and education.

Dr. Smith is a Fellow in the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and is listed among the top oncologists and palliative care specialists in the country. He has taught palliative concepts in more than a dozen countries and helped start over 100 new programs.

Dr. Smith received his M.D. from Yale Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Pennsylvania and a fellowship in oncology and hematology at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine. He joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 2011.

His current interest is in the relief of chronic and neuropathic pain with Scrambler Therapy, a non-invasive way of "resetting" the central nervous system to relieve pain from chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, neurologic disease, and other pain syndromes. He is no longer practicing medical oncology. more


  • The Harry J. Duffey Family Professor of Palliative Medicine
  • Director of Palliative Medicine
  • Professor of Oncology
  • Joint Appointment in Medicine

Departments / Divisions

Centers & Institutes



  • MD; Yale School of Medicine (1979)


  • Internal Medicine; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (1982)


  • Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (1987)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Internal Medicine (Hospice and Palliative Care) (2008)
  • American Board of Internal Medicine (Internal Medicine) (1982)
  • American Board of Internal Medicine (Medical Oncology) (1987)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Communication about serious illness


Clinical Trials

Learn more about clinical trials at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Smith TJ, Staats PS, Deer T, Stearns LJ, Rauck RL, Boortz-Marx RL, Buchser E, Català E, Bryce DA, Coyne PJ, Pool GE; Implantable Drug Delivery Systems Study Group. Randomized clinical trial of an implantable drug delivery system compared with comprehensive medical management for refractory cancer pain: impact on pain, drug-related toxicity, and survival. J Clin Oncol. 2002 Oct 1;20(19):4040-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2002.02.118. PMID: 12351602

Smith TJ, Coyne PJ, Staats PS, Deer T, Stearns LJ, Rauck RL, Boortz-Marx RL, Buchser E, Català E, Bryce DA, Cousins M, Pool GE. Intrathecal implantable drug delivery systems give sustained pain control, less side effects, and possibly better survival for six months: results of a randomized clinical trial vs. comprehensive medical management. Ann Oncol. 2005; May;16(5):825-33

Marineo G, Iorno V, Gandini C, Moschini V, Smith TJ. Scrambler Therapy May Relieve Chronic Neuropathic Pain More Effectively Than Guideline Based Drug Management: Results of a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Jan;43(1):87-95

Loprinzi C, Le-Rademacher JG, Majithia N, McMurray RP, O'Neill CR, Bendel MA, Beutler A, Lachance DH, Cheville A, Strick DM, Black DF, Tilburt JC, Smith TJ. Scrambler therapy for chemotherapy neuropathy: a randomized phase II pilot trial. Support Care Cancer. 2019 Jun 17. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-04881-3. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 31209630

Karri J, Marathe A, Wang EJ, Smith TJ. The Use of Scrambler Therapy in Treating Chronic Pain Syndromes: A Systematic Review. Neuromodulation. 2022 Jun 9:S1094-7159(22)00681-X. doi: 10.1016/j.neurom.2022.04.045. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35691908


"Treatment and prevention of oral mucositis with growth factors."
Patent # US Patent 5102870 | 

Co-patentee.  Triton Biosciences, Alameda, CA. Royalties used to create 3 endowed funds: VCU Libraries, VCU Excellence in Genetics, Chippewa Local High School college music scholarship.

Contact for Research Inquiries

Phone: 410-955-2091

Activities & Honors


  • BS summa cum laude, University of Akron, 1974
  • Ramsey Award, Yale University School of Medicine , 1977
  • Frank Parker Prize, Yale University School of Medicine , 1979
  • MD cum laude., Yale School of Medicine, 1979
  • Sharon H. Kohlenberg Health care Service Award, Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, 1993
  • Jessie Ball duPont Fund Making a Difference Award , Rural Cancer Outreach Program, 1993
  • Scholarship Award in Patient-Physician Communications, Medical College of Virginia, 1994
  • Pioneering programs in Palliative Care, Milbank Memorial Fund, 2000
  • “Distinguished Clinician Award” as the outstanding clinician at the medical center, MCV-VCU , 2000
  • National “Humanism in Medicine Award” , New Jersey Health Care Foundation, 2000
  • Community Outreach Award, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs, 2001
  • America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, Castle Connelly, 2001
  • VCU Outstanding Teacher Award, M-II Hematology/Oncology Course, 2002 - 2003
  • Faculty Award for Distinguished Clinical Care, VCU Medical Center Department of Medicine, 2006
  • VCU Outstanding Teacher Award, Hematology/Oncology M-2 course, 2006 - 2006
  • University Award to best University-based palliative care program, International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care , 2006
  • National Award for service, UNOS , 2001
  • HOPE Small Practice Leadership Award: rural cancer outreach, Hematology Oncology News International (HONI) , 2008
  • “Robert W. Irby MD” Award for philanthropic service to the foundation and VCU, Medical College of Virginia Foundation , 2008
  • HOPE Oncology Practice Leadership Award,  Hematology Oncology News International (HONI) , 2008
  • “Statesman Award” for 20 years of outstanding service to ASCO, ASCO , 2008
  • Virginia A. Crockford Award, Central Virginia Health Planning Agency, 2008
  • Consensus Panel Leadership Award, National Palliative Care , 2008
  • Educational Innovation Award, VCU , 2009
  • Designated Center of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care Award, European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) , 2010
  • Best Doctors in America®, Medical Oncology and Hospice, 2010
  • Top Doctors, U. S. News and World Report, 2012
  • Fellow, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2012
  • Award for “Best Article in Medical Professionalism”, American Board of Internal Medicine , 2012
  • Nominee, AAHPM 25th Anniversary Visionaries, 2013
  • Best Doctors in Maryland, America's Top Doctors® Editions 1-12, 2013
  • Executive Board, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine , 2014 - 2017
  • Trish Greene Award for research that improves patient and family quality of life, with special attention to rural areas., American Cancer Society, 2015
  • Visionary Award given to key individuals who have been critical in building and shaping the hospice and palliative medicine field over the past 30 years., American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2017
  • Walther Cancer Foundation Palliative and Supportive Care in Oncology Endowed Award and Lecture to recognize a distinguished lecturer and leader with multiple, significant, and enduring contributions to palliative and supportive care in oncology through the prevention, assessment and management of cancer- and treatment-related suffering., ASCO & Walther Foundation, 2019
  • AAHPM Project on Death in America National Leadership Award, for a physician leader who has advanced the field of palliative care by the education of the next generation of palliative care leaders., AAHPM, 2019
  • Ellen L. Stovall Award for Innovation in Patient-Centered Cancer Care given to whose whose career shows commitment to innovations in patient-centered cancer care helps deliver better outcomes and a higher quality of life for those living with and beyond cancer., National Coalition for Cancer Survivors (NCCS), 2020 - 2020


  • American Cancer Society, Hanover County Unit, 1995 - 1999
    Board of Directors
  • American Medical Teams for Africa, World Health Organization/American, 1994
    Medical Teams for Africa Cancer Pain Relief Programme, Tanzania-Zanzibar, Director of Cancer Palliative Care Programs
  • Ashland Friends of the Library Board, 2004
  • Chris Desch Foundation Board, 2007 - 2011
    Founding Member
  • Free Health Clinic, Richmond, VA, Physician Cross-Over, 1994
  • Mountain of Trash (community cleanup and recycling), 1985 - 1997
    Co-coordinator, Ashland
  • Pamunkey Regional Library, Hanover County, Children's Story Hour Reader, 1991 - 1992
  • Patrick Henry Half Marathon, Richmond Road Runners, 2008 - 2011
    Medical Director
  • Richmond Friends Meeting, Richmond, VA, 1984
  • Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs Camp Happyland, summer camp physicals, 2000
  • Homewood Campus Baltimore Friends Meeting, 2018

Professional Activities

  • Board Member, Amer Acad Hospice Palliative Medicine, 2015 - 2021

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Palliative care in Oncology:  the  who, what, when, where, and why
    Oncology Grand Rounds, Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, Baltimore (01/14/2011)
  • Living better electrically for pain relief; Making room in the cancer budget for new drugs by altering the cancer cost curve.
    Danville (01/03/2011)
    Geisenger Clinic
  • Reducing the cost of cancer care without rationing.
    Washington DC (01/02/2011)
    Reusch Center at Georgetown University
  • Integrating Palliative Care and Oncology: the evidence base
    New York City. (01/07/2012)
  • Changing our practice to incorporate clinical pathways and more advance care planning. Providence Health System
    Portland (01/21/2012)
  • Bending the cost curve with better care. Fred Hutchinson Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Seattle (01/22/2012)
  • Bending the Cost Curve of American Medicine
    Plenary session, AAHPM , California (01/07/2012)
    Sutter Health
  • Designing the best concurrent clinical trial.
    AAHPM (01/07/2012)
  • When is chemotherapy indicated in the last weeks of life, and when not?
    AAHPM (01/08/2012)
  • Treatment of post herpetic neuropathy.
    AAHPM (01/08/2012)
  • Affordability of Cancer Care- A Global Perspective
    Chair: Costs of Cancer Care: Affordability Access and Policy, ASCO Annual Meeting Education Session (01/24/2012)
  • How to talk with people about serious illness
    NCCS Rays of Hope event - Cancer Care in America, Washington DC (01/27/2012)
  • The economics of lung cancer treatment
    University of Arkansas Health Science Center, Little Rock (01/05/2012)
  • Improving the quality of cancer care
    Keynote Speaker, National Cancer Business Summit, Dallas (01/18/2012)
  • Death gets a makeover
    New York (01/25/2012)
  • The evidence that palliative care improves lives while saving money
    Plenary Session. (01/26/2012)
    Chicago Supportive Oncology Conference
  • Integrating palliative care into our practices today.
    Maryland Eastern Shore Oncology Association.
  • “Getting oncologists and palliative care to work together” and “How to do palliative care in the oncologist office”
    Martinsville (01/19/2012)
    West Virginia University Eastern Branch and Hospice of the Panhandle
  • NCCS Cancer Survivors Seminar
    Washington DC (01/28/2012)
  • Hope
    Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center Grand Rounds (01/30/2012)
  • Palliative care and oncolog
    Maryland Cancer Collaborative Keynote Speaker, Annapolis (01/05/2012)
  • Cancer Care Delivery Reforms: A Variety of Approaches
    National Coalition of Cancer Survivors Cancer Policy Roundtable, Washington DC (01/07/2013)
  • New Horizons in Palliative Care: Making the Case for Palliative Care Involvement in Cancer Survivors (SA503).
    AAHPM National Meeting (01/16/2013)
  •  Chemotherapy Toxicity or Disease Progression? How Can We Help Patients Understand What’s Happening to Them? (TH331)Cancer SIG.
  • Educational Forum: Advocacy (TH321) “Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question in HPM”: Communicating AAHPM’s Choosing Wisely Recommendations to Patients and the Public.”
  • Scrambler Therapy – It works but how and why? Ether Dome MGH
    Pain and Palliative Care Grand Rounds, Boston (01/20/2013)
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Creating hybridomas of oncology and palliative care.
         2013 Annual Harvey and Andrea Rosenthal Lecture in Palliative Care. MGH-DFCI (01/21/2013)
  • What must change for ONC and PC to fully integrate – national policy and finance trends.
    Brigham and Womens-DFCI Palliative Care Grand Rounds (01/22/2013)
  • Getting ONC and PC to work together
    GBMC Oncology Grand Rounds (01/25/2013)
  • Carroll County Hospital Grand Rounds. “Increasing use of palliative care in usual medical care.”
  • Convincing oncologists to use palliative and hospice care.
    California HealthCare Foundation webinar.
  • Oncologists and hospice – bridging the gaps
    OptumHealth national webinar
  • Living well with advanced cancer
    Johns Hopkins Survivorship program national webinar.
  • Bending the cost curve in cancer care: dreams versus reality
    Kings College Hospital, London (01/28/2013)
    Dame Cicely Saunders Institute
  • Palliative care and decision making when cure is no longer possible
    National webinar, Philadelphia (01/10/2013)
  • Improving care across the continuum: the IOM report
    Washington DC (01/24/2013)
    NCCS Cancer Policy Roundtable
  • Session on Choosing Wisely as a November Webinar;
    Train-the-Trainer Session at 2014 Assembly (01/07/2013)
    Reprising AAHPM Annual Assembly
  • Improving the quality of cancer care by integrating palliative care…really
    Baltimore (01/08/2013)
    University of Maryland Greenbaum Cancer Center Grand Rounds
  • Improving quality of life throughout the oncology treatment spectrum
    Symposium on survivorship and dying, Moscow (01/13/2013)
    Russian Oncology Association
  • Transitioning to palliative treatment at end of life
    NCCN National webinar.
  • Ways for oncologists to reduce the cost of care today
    Summit on Optimizing High Value Cancer Care: Addressing the Cost of Drugs and Novel Technologies. , Alexandria (01/27/2014)
  • Persuading physicians to engage palliative and hospice care earlier -- the anti-death panel approach.
    NHPCO national webinar
  • The Institute of Medicine report on Medicare Cancer Care
    Annual meeting plenary, Tampe (01/14/2014)
    American Psychosocial Oncology Society
  • Palliative care of the breast cancer patient
    7th Annual Johns Hopkins Breast cancer Program. (01/08/2014)
  • Pain management in the cancer patient
    25th Annual Johns Hopkins Nuclear Molecular Imaging Conference, Baltimore (01/08/2014)
  • Choosing Wisely - “Choosing words wisely – integrating costs into discussion”
    AAHPM annual meeting: “Institute of Medicine Report on Medicare in Crisis”
  • It’s not just about code status anymore. The modern view of palliative care.
    Las Vegas (01/25/2014)
    Hospitalist Medicine Annual Conference
  • Integrating palliative care into the Oncology office.
    Livingston (01/08/2014)
    St Barnabas Medical Center
  • Palliative care to improve health system performance.
    Atlantic General Health Systems, Summit (01/29/2014)
    Overlook Medical Center
  • Improving Oncology Practice
    Plenary Lecture, Toronto (01/12/2014)
    2014 Applied Research in Cancer Control (ARCC) Conference
  • Effectiveness and cost effectiveness of palliative care
    Plenary Session, Sapporo (01/12/2014)
    Japanese Palliative Care Conference
  • Compassion Fatigue
    Arlington (01/14/2014)
    The Coalition Against Pediatric Pain Medical Think Tank on EDS and Co-Morbid Conditions
  • Clinical experience with Scrambler Therapy: mechanisms and clinical results.
    Plenary Session (01/28/2014)
    Korean Pain Society
  • Making palliative care work in the real world
    All-Caribean Palliative Care conference, Cayman Islands
  • Integration of Palliative Care and Communication Strategies for Patients on Phase 1 Clinical Trials
    Medical Grand Rounds, Duarte (01/07/2014)
    City of Hope National Medical Center
  • Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium
    Talking with patients and families about money. (01/12/2014)
  • American College of Osteopathic Internists national meeting
    It’s not just code status: update on palliative care., Baltimore (01/09/2014)
  • Oncology and palliative care – working together
    Lecture, XIII Congress of CIS and Eurasia oncologists and radiologists, Kazakhstan, CIS (04/28/2022)
  • Update on Palliative Care
    lecture, international, 10th Virtual Seminar Series on Advances in Palliative Care. St. Luke's Medical Center, Manilla, Philippines (03/02/2022)

Recent News Articles and Media Coverage

Pain Secrets, PBS November 27, 2021

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