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Daniel E Epner, MD, FACP

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Professor, Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Bio Statement

Daniel Epner, M.D. - Professor, Department of Pallitive Care & Rehabilitation Medicine

Dr. Epner received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his clinical Fellowship in Medical Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  Dr. Epner's clinical activities include Medical Director of the International Center, Integrative Medicine clinic, consulting on the Phase I in-patients service, and supervising MDACC Medical Oncology fellows in their continuity clinics at LBJ hospital.  All these clinical activities involve difficult conversations, often around end of life issues, and/or teaching communication skills.  Dr. Epner has published several articles in peer-reviewed journals and is developing research and educational programs to improve communication between cancer patients and their providers to study the role culture plays in oncology practice.

Research Interests

Difficult conversations in clinical oncology, particularly around end of life.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine
1515 Holcombe Blvd.
Unit Number: 1414
Houston, TX 77030
Phone: 713 792-6085
Fax: 713 792 6092

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1986 Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, MD, Medicine
1982 Stanford University, Stanford, CA, BA, Human Biology

Postgraduate Training

7/1991-6/1994 Clinical Fellowship, Medical Oncology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
6/1989-1/1991 Research Fellowship, Molecular Genetics, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
7/1988-6/1989 PGY3, Internal Medicine, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA
6/1986-6/1988 Internship and PGY2, Internal Medicine, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, TX

Board Certifications

9/1993 American Board of Internal Medicine - Medical Oncology, Recertification Date: 11/2013
10/2012 American Board of Internal Medicine- Hospice and Palliative Medicine
1989 American Board of Internal Medicine


Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation Medicine, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 7/2012-8/2014
Associate Professor, Department of General Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 7/2008-7/2012
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Neuro-Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 2003-6/2008
Chief, Hematology/Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, Houston VA Hospital, Houston, TX, 9/2002-6/2008
Associate Professor, Hematology/Oncology, Division of Cancer Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, 2002-6/2008
Staff Physician, Houston VA Hospital, Houston, TX, 1994-6/2008

Administrative Appointments/Responsibilities

Medical Director, International Center of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 9/2010-6/2012

Other Appointments/Responsibilities

Clinical Safety and Effectiveness Program Graduate, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 12/2009-5/2010

Institutional Committee Activities

Member, Language of Caring Steering and Planning Committees, 7/2013-present
Member, Intensive Physician Board Review Course in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2013-present
Chair, GME Curriculum Subcommittee GME Competency Lecture Series, 2013-present
Member, Psychosocial Council, 6/2010-present
Member, Institutional Apology and Disclosure Working Group, 5/2010-2010
Member, Ethics, 3/2010-present
Member, International Program 8% project, 1/2009-2010
Member, Credentials Subcommittee, 12/2008-2012

Professional Memberships

American Academy on Communication in Healthcare
Member, 1/2009-present
American Association for Cancer Research
Member, 1/1991-present
American College of Physicians, Philadelphia, PA
Fellow, 7/1997-present
American Medical Association
Member, 1/2009-present
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Member, 1/2009-present
GME Curriculum Committee, Houston, TX
Member, 1/2013-present
GME Curriculum Subcommitee, Houston, TX
Chair, 4/2015-present
Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer, Houston, TX
Member, 10/2012-present
Pain & End of Life Project for the Breast Center- The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Member, 4/2015-present
Texas Medical Association, TX
Member, 6/1986-present

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Epner DE. A Perplexing Question. J Clin Oncol 32(23):2503-4, 8/2014. e-Pub 7/2014. PMID: 25002712.
2. Epner DE, Baile WF. Difficult Conversations: Teaching Medical Oncology Trainees Communication Skills One Hour at a Time. Acad Med 89(4):578-84, 4/2014. e-Pub 2/19/2014. PMID: 24556763.
3. Fingeret MC, Teo I, Epner DE. Managing Body Image Difficulties of Adult Cancer Patients: Lessons from Available Research. Cancer 120(5):633-41, 3/2014. e-Pub 11/2013. PMCID: PMC4052456.
4. Delgado-Guay MO, De La Cruz MG, Epner DE. 'I don't want to burden my family': handling communication challenges in geriatric oncology. Ann Oncol 24 Suppl 7:vii30-vii35, 10/2013. PMID: 24001760.
5. Silbermann M, Epner DE, Charalambous H, Baider L, Puchalski CM, Balducci L, Gultekin M, Abdalla RF, Daher M, Al-Tarawneh MR, Smith TJ. Promoting new approaches for cancer care in the Middle East. Ann Oncol 24 Suppl 7:vii5-vii10, 10/2013. PMCID: PMC3767160.
6. Epner DE. Black and White. Ann Intern Med 159(4):304-5, 8/20/2013. PMID: 24026263.
7. Epner DE, Baile WF. Patient-centered care: the key to cultural competence. Ann Oncol 23 Suppl 3:33-42, 4/2012. PMID: 22628414.
8. Overman MJ, Epner DE. Lost in Translation: A Fisherman's Tale. J Clin Oncol 29(28):3832-3, 10/2011. e-Pub 7/2011. PMID: 21768468.
9. Epner DE, Baile WF. Wooden's pyramid: building a hierarchy of skills for successful communication. Med Teach 33(1):39-43, 2011. PMID: 21182381.
10. Epner DE, Ravi V, Baile WF. When patients and families feel abandoned. Support Care Cancer. e-Pub 9/19/2010. PMID: 20853170.
11. Garcia JM, Li H, Mann D, Epner D, Hayes TG, Marcelli M, Cunningham GR. Hypogonadism in male patients with cancer. Cancer 106(12):2583-91, 6/15/2006. PMID: 16688773.
12. Lu S, Ren C, Liu Y, Epner DE. PI3K-Akt signaling is involved in the regulation of p21(WAF/CIP) expression and androgen-independent growth in prostate cancer cells. Int J Oncol 28(1):245-51, 1/2006. PMID: 16328002.
13. Garcia JM, Garcia-Touza M, Hijazi RA, Taffet G, Epner D, Mann D, Smith RG, Cunningham GR, Marcelli M. Active ghrelin levels and active to total ghrelin ratio in cancer-induced cachexia. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 90(5):2920-6, 5/2005. PMID: 15713718.
14. Lu S, Chen GL, Ren C, Kwabi-Addo B, Epner DE. Methionine restriction selectively targets thymidylate synthase in prostate cancer cells. Biochem Pharmacol 66(5):791-800, 9/1/2003. PMID: 12948860.
15. Li M, Ittmann MM, Rowley DR, Knowlton AA, Vaid AK, Epner DE. Glutathione S-transferase pi is upregulated in the stromal compartment of hormone independent prostate cancer. Prostate 56(2):98-105, 7/1/2003. PMID: 12746833.
16. Lu S, Hoestje SM, Choo E, Epner DE. Induction of caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis in response to methionine restriction. Int J Oncol 22(2):415-20, 2/2003. PMID: 12527942.
17. Lu S, Hoestje SM, Choo EM, Epner DE. Methionine restriction induces apoptosis of prostate cancer cells via the c-Jun N-terminal kinase-mediated signaling pathway. Cancer Lett 179(1):51-8, 5/8/2002. PMID: 11880182.
18. Lu S, Gu X, Hoestje S, Epner DE. Identification of an additional hypoxia responsive element in the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene promoter. Biochim Biophys Acta 1574(2):152-6, 3/19/2002. PMID: 11955624.
19. Epner DE, Morrow S, Wilcox M, Houghton JL. Nutrient intake and nutritional indexes in adults with metastatic cancer on a phase I clinical trial of dietary methionine restriction. Nutr Cancer 42(2):158-66, 2002. PMID: 12416254.
20. Epner DE. Can dietary methionine restriction increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy in treatment of advanced cancer? J Am Coll Nutr 20(5 Suppl):443S-449S; discussion 473S-475S, 10/2001. PMID: 11603655.
21. Lu S, Jenster G, Epner DE. Androgen induction of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 gene: role of androgen receptor and transcription factor Sp1 complex. Mol Endocrinol 14(5):753-60, 5/2000. PMID: 10809237.
22. Lu S, Epner DE. Molecular mechanisms of cell cycle block by methionine restriction in human prostate cancer cells. Nutr Cancer 38(1):123-30, 2000. PMID: 11341037.
23. Epner DE, Sawa A, Isaacs JT. Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase expression during apoptosis and proliferation of rat ventral prostate. Biol Reprod 61(3):687-91, 9/1999. PMID: 10456846.
24. Singh G, Lakkis CL, Laucirica R, Epner DE. Regulation of prostate cancer cell division by glucose. J Cell Physiol 180(3):431-8, 9/1999. PMID: 10430183.
25. Lu S, Liu M, Epner DE, Tsai SY, Tsai MJ. Androgen regulation of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21 gene through an androgen response element in the proximal promoter. Mol Endocrinol 13(3):376-84, 3/1999. PMID: 10076995.
26. Kouvroukoglou S, Lakkis CL, Wallace JD, Zygourakis K, Epner DE. Bioenergetics of rat prostate cancer cell migration. Prostate 34(2):137-44, 2/1/1998. PMID: 9465945.
27. Rondinelli RH, Epner DE, Tricoli JV. Increased glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene expression in late pathological stage human prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 1(2):66-72, 12/1997. PMID: 12496918.
28. Epner DE, White P, Krasnoff M, Khanduja S, Kimball KT, Knaus WA. Outcome of mechanical ventilation for adults with hematologic malignancy. J Investig Med 44(5):254-60, 6/1996. PMID: 8763976.
29. Epner DE, Coffey DS. There are multiple forms of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase in prostate cancer cells and normal prostate tissue. Prostate 28(6):372-8, 6/1996. PMID: 8650074.
30. Epner DE, Partin AW, Schalken JA, Isaacs JT, Coffey DS. Association of glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase expression with cell motility and metastatic potential of rat prostatic adenocarcinoma. Cancer Res 53(9):1995-7, 5/1/1993. PMID: 8481901.
31. Epner DE, Herschman HR. Heavy metals induce expression of the TPA-inducible sequence (TIS) genes. J Cell Physiol 148(1):68-74, 7/1991. PMID: 1907289.
32. Epner DE, Koeffler HP. Molecular genetic advances in chronic myelogenous leukemia. Ann Intern Med 113(1):3-6, 7/1990. PMID: 2073245.
33. Enck G, Epner DE. Reaching Consensus Framework: Interdisciplinary Meetings, Ethics Issues, and Communication. J of Interprofessional Care. Submitted.


1. Neumann JL, Gallagher C, Epner D, Susan G, Buitrago J, Richard C. Advanced Care Planning (ACP) Before Stem Cell Transplantation (SCT) Treatment Begins. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation 17(2):S359, 2/2011.
2. Epner DE, Baile WF. Pyramid of Relational Excellence. Medical Encounter 24(1):112, Winter 2010, 10/2010.

Book Chapters

1. Epner DE, Schmeler KM. University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Experience caring for patients from countries undergoing political-social conflict. In: Cancer Care in Countries/ Societies in Transition – Individualized Care in Focus. Ed(s) M Silbermann. Springer. In Press.
2. Epner DE. Anemia. In: lnternal Medicine Issues in Palliative Cancer Care. Ed(s) D Hui, E Bruera. Oxford University Press: New York, 127-130, 2014.
3. Epner DE. Communication Between Patients and Health Care Providers. In: Advances in Cancer Survivorship Management. Ed(s) Foxhall LE, Rodriguez MA. Springer, 421-432, 2014.
4. Epner, DE. Thrombocytopenia. In: Internal Medicine Issues in Palliative Cancer. Ed(s) D Hui, E Bruera. Oxford University Press: New York, 135-138, 2014.
5. Epner, DE. Cancer Chemotherapy. In: Encyclopedia of Human Biology. Academic Press, Inc, 1997.
6. Epner, DE. The hypercoagulable state of cancer. In: Molecular Mechanisms of Hypercoagulable States. RG Landes Co: Austin, 1997.

Manuals, Teaching Aids, Other Teaching Publications

1. Wendy Leebov. Language of Caring Skill Building Video. e-Pub 2012.
2. Epner, DE; Brown, R; Baile, WF. Discussing Prognosis. American Society of Clinical Oncology: ASCO University webpage ( e-Pub 2010.

Grant & Contract Support

Title: “Dietary Methionine Restriction- Novel Cancer Treatment: Mechanistic Studies”
Funding Source: Ross Products Division, Abbott Laboratories
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 5/1/2001 - 10/31/2002
Title: “Dietary Methionine Restriction: Novel Treatment for Hormone Independent Prostate Cancer”
Funding Source: Department of Defense (DOD)
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 4/23/2001 - 4/22/2004
Title: “GAPDH: Novel Regulator of Cell Structure and Migration”
Funding Source: NIH/NCI
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 7/1/1998 - 6/30/2003
Title: Caroline Wiess Law Award for Research in Molecular Medicine
Funding Source: Baylor College of Medicine
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 3/1998 - 9/1998
Title: “Role of multifunctional GAPDH in prostate cancer”
Funding Source: Veterans Administration
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 4/1/1996 - 3/31/1999
Title: Chao Award
Funding Source: Baylor College of Medicine
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 8/1/1994 - 7/31/1997
Title: “Role of glycolysis in prostate cancer cell motility/metastasis”
Funding Source: American Cancer Society (ACS)
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1/1/1994 - 12/21/1995
Title: “Role of GAPDH in prostate cancer metastasis”
Funding Source: Baylor SPORE in prostate cancer pilot project
Role: Principal Investigator
Duration: 1994 - 1995

Last updated: 8/7/2015