James Hunter Groninger

Hunter Groninger, MD, serves as director of the Section of Palliative Care, MedStar Washington Hospital Center (MHWC). In addition, he is an associate professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, a master facilitator with the Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care program at Northwestern University, and adjunct faculty in the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities at the University of Virginia.

Dr. Groninger specializes in providing supportive end-of-life care that is in accordance with the goals of the patient and family. He is board certified in internal medicine and hospice and palliative medicine. At MedStar, he provides care for patients; teaches residents, fellows, and other physicians; and participates in research activities. In addition, he serves on several committees, including the Critical Care Committee, the Bioethics Committee, and the Cancer Committee. To support further research in palliative care medicine, Dr. Groninger devotes time to mentoring new physicians in this field.

Prior to joining MWHC, Dr. Groninger was a staff clinician in the Pain and Palliative Care Service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, where he also directed their physician fellowship program. For his work at NIH, he was awarded the Clinical Center Director’s Award. He has since won a Program Excellence Award, conferred by the MWHC Board of Directors.

Dr. Groninger is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for the Journal of Hospital Ethics. He serves as a reviewer for several journals, including Annals of Palliative Medicine, PLoS One, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Journal of Palliative Medicine. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature Reviews: Clinical Oncology, BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, the Journal of Palliative Medicine, and the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Dr. Groninger is a fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He holds memberships in several professional societies, and he chairs committees for the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and the Palliative Care Research Cooperative. In addition, he serves on the Palliative and End-of-Life Care NetWork Steering Committee for the American College of Chest Physicians. Dr. Groninger is frequently invited to speak at meetings of his peers, on topics including end-of-life care, bioethics, communication, and medical humanities.

Dr. Groninger is fluent in French as well as English and has basic conversational skills in Spanish. After completing his medical degree and internship and residency training in internal medicine at the University of Virginia, he completed a fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine at Capital Hospice.

Research Interests

Dr. Groninger’s research interests include the following:

  • Hospice and palliative medicine
  • Pain management
  • Supportive care for patients with advanced heart failure
  • Cancer survivorship
  • Bioethics
  • Aging

Selected Research

Massage therapy for hospitalized patients receiving palliative care

Dr. Groninger is a principal investigator on this study examining massage therapy dosing for seriously ill hospitalized patients.

Screening for intimacy concerns in a palliative care population

Dr. Groninger and colleagues are evaluating patient concerns and care needs related to intimacy and sexual health during advanced illness. This ongoing work has been published and presented at national scientific meetings.

Cardiac inotrope therapy in end-stage heart failure

Dr. Groninger and colleagues are researching the role of advanced medical interventions for patients with end-stage heart failure referred to hospice care. This work has been published and presented at scientific meetings.

View Dr. Groninger’s publications on PubMed.

Visit Dr. Groninger’s clinical practice page.


Research Areas

  • Critical Care/Emergency Medicine