The Jean Shanks Lecture 2020

17.00, Thursday 03 December 2020

Palliative care for the 21st century 

The 2020 Jean Shanks  Lecture will be presented by:
Professor Irene Higginson OBE FMedSci
Director, Cicely Saunders Institute  and Vice Dean for Research, Faculty of Nursing, Midwidery and Palliative Care, King's College London 

This event will be held online via Zoom and forms part of a wider Academy programme for the day.  This part of the afternoon is a public lecture and we welcome the participation of guests to hear the lecture.  Those interested in attending the lecture should register via the booking section on this page in order to receive connection details.

A connection link will be circulated to registered participants a few days before the event. 

About the speaker:
Professor Irene Higginson is Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute at King’s College London, the world’s first purpose-built institute of palliative care, integrating research, education, clinical services and support and information. She is an NIHR Senior Investigator and was in 2013 awarded Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences, for her contribution to the field. She has several active research programmes and now contributes to the MSc, Diploma and Certificate in Palliative Care;  supervises several PhD students and is active in teaching. She is also Vice Dean for Research in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King’s College London, and Scientific Director for the charity Cicely Saunders International. She is well known for extending palliative care beyond cancer, and for her work in breathlessness and home care. She is dedicated to ensuring research influences and improves care and practice.  

Professor Higginson has published over 700 articles in peer-reviewed journals, plus several books; her research interests and publications are in the following areas: quality of life and outcome measurements, evaluation of palliative care especially of new services and interventions, epidemiology, clinical audit, effectiveness, psychosocial care, symptom assessment, breathlessness, cachexia/anorexia, and elderly care. She plays an active role in the clinical service, including on-call, and is Assistant Medical Director at King’s College Hospital.

Incredible progress in public health and medical interventions during the 20th century have led to major advances in health and life expectancy. However, these will likely pale in comparison to what will happen in the 21st century. Across the globe, people are living longer. Many additional years of life are spent in good health. Nonetheless, multimorbidity is on the rise internationally; it is now the norm in most high income countries with more 50 million people affected in the European Union alone. Chronic and progressive illnesses exist alongside each other; the boundaries between curative, life extending, life enhancing, rehabilitation and palliative treatments are increasingly blurred. This lecture will consider key facets relevant to palliative care for the 21st century, including: the changing patterns of need, illnesses and symptoms, the challenges of living with and caring in uncertainly, the role of technologies, as well as recent and likely future discoveries and advances in palliative care that could improve the lives of those affected by serious and/or progressive illnesses.


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