Anne Coscarelli, Ph.D., director of the Simms/Mann–UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology and member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) was awarded the Outstanding Clinical Care Award for 2013 by the American Psychosocial Oncology Society in February. She is the founding director of the Simms/Mann Center, having been recruited in 1992 by the dean of the UCLA School of Medicine and the director of the JCCC to develop a center to provide comprehensive psychosocial care for individuals with cancer and their families.
Coscarelli is a practicing psychologist within the Simms/Mann Center, with decades of experience in psycho-oncology and mind/body approaches to mental health care for cancer patients. Under her direction, the Simms/Mann Center has become a national model for integrative patient care for those affected by cancer, offering educational and support services that combine psychological, nutritional, spiritual and complementary approaches to healing.
After receiving her B.A. in psychology with honors from University of California Santa Cruz in 1976, she went on to receive her master’s degree and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology Los Angeles. She began working with cancer patients at the Veterans Administration Medical Center with a joint appointment in UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. She then became affiliated with the UCLA School of Medicine as a research psychologist. She is currently an adjunct professor in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in the Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology and a clinical professor in the Department of Psychology.
“Anne is a national leader in provision of clinical care to individuals diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones,” said Annette L. Stanton, professor of psychology and psychiatry/behavioral sciences and JCCC member. “Over the past two decades Anne has created a remarkable center to serve the population touched by cancer at UCLA. Clearly Dr. Coscarelli has enriched thousands of lives of cancer patients, their families and the professionals who serve them.”
The American Psychosocial Oncology Society is the only multidisciplinary professional organization in the United States dedicated to the psychosocial aspects of cancer treatment that advances the science and practice of psychosocial care for people affected by cancer. One of four major awards, the Outstanding Clinical Care Award in Psychosocial Oncology is presented to a clinician in recognition of outstanding clinical contributions to the field of psychosocial oncology.
Coscarelli not only delivers care but guides a team of professionals, psychologists, social workers, physicians and chaplains in helping patients and families negotiate the change that cancer can create. She also leads a team in training other young professionals to follow in their footsteps. Most of the services at the Simms/Mann Center are offered without fees to UCLA patients and families and the center is funded through philanthropy.
Coscarelli notes, “Cancer comes with many costs and burdens—emotional, physical and financial toxicities from cancer. We want everyone treated here to have equal access to care and are grateful to our many donors who make this service available.”
Jim Ellison, Chairman and CEO of Ellison Machinery of Arizona and Former Chairman of Ellison Technologies, describes Dr. Coscarelli as “a comforting and wise voice of hope to those suddenly confronted with life undone. She came into my life one dark day 10 years ago when my wife of 30 years, in the very prime of her vibrant and beautiful life, without warning or symptom, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, a cancer of the brain. For our four children and so many caring friends, we were left reeling from the grim news and bleak prognosis while trying to redefine life in support of wife, mother or friend.”
“Without fanfare or announcement, Anne just showed up at bedside and began to offer a comforting word, a suggestion or two for coping and the offer to help us one day at a time," Ellison continues. "She did help us collectively and individually to become unified and focused on making every day count.”
Ellison later joined the Advisory Board to fund the Simms/Mann Center and notes, “I wanted to join on behalf of my grateful family and to pay forward to other individuals and families who must confront some form of cancer in their lives.” He has been credited with the board’s motto, “Medicine alone is not enough…”
Coscarelli said in her acceptance of the award, “I am deeply grateful for this award, but the true honor is being able to compassionately bear witness to the experience, to hold the pain with our patients and sometimes to feel part of the growth that ensues.”