My first 100 days as the new Marie Curie Chair in Palliative and End of Life Care at UCL

by Paddy Stone Marie Curie Chair in Palliative and End of Life Care at UCL Paddy Stone

Having spent the last 13 years working in the same job at St George’s University London, I was understandably quite apprehensive starting my new role as head of the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Unit (MCPCRU) at UCL. The first few days and weeks were certainly very hectic – there were numerous meetings with human resources, occupational health, IT and security departments. Now, 100 days into my new post, I have finally found a little time to reflect upon the opportunities and challenges of my new job.
The MCPCRU has been in existence for 15 years and, until I was appointed, it had been successfully led by Dr Louise Jones. I have been very lucky in that, although Louise has stepped down from running the department, she has remained on the staff and has been able to advise and guide me in my new role.

A centre of excellence for palliative care research

Under Louise’s stewardship the unit  has established itself as a centre of excellence for palliative care research – particularly in the areas of dementia care (led by Liz Sampson), non-malignant palliative care (advanced liver and kidney disease) and psychological support for patients and carers. This complements my own research interests which up until now have been more focused on the care and treatment of patients with advanced cancer. My first few months in post have been occupied with applying for research funding to undertake three different large multi-centre studies:

  • improving ways to predict survival in patients with advanced cancer

  • evaluating the role of specialist palliative care services for patients with incurable cancer undergoing chemotherapy

  • investigating treatments for cancer-related fatigue.

This has provided a great opportunity to get to know my colleagues by working together with them on new projects. I am very fortunate that I have joined a department that has a great depth and breadth of research experience among the staff (including specialist statisticians, a health economist and a systematic reviewer). I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to develop the work of the department and to continue to deliver high quality research that will directly improve the lives of people with terminal illnesses and their families and carers.