Researcher Award

The EAPC is pleased to announce the outcome of the ‘Researcher Award’ competition for 2019. The winner of the Early Researcher Award is Dr Maria Heckel (Germany). The Post-Doctoral Award goes to Geana Paula Kurita (Brazil). Dr Mark Taubert (United Kingdom) is the winner of the Clinical Impact Award.
The standard of applications was very high, with a small group of outstanding candidates. Applications were assessed on the published criteria; namely evidence of sustained engagement with research in palliative care, evidence of the ability to successfully apply for grants, an increasing portfolio of published research papers and other factors that indicate international esteem. The accompanying statements of support were also scrutinised.
The panel are delighted that there are so many excellent emerging researchers who will contribute to the future development of palliative care research and practice.

Palliative Medicine* Early Researcher Award - Dr Maria Heckel
Maria Heckel qualified as a social worker and was awarded the Gertrud-Luckner-Preis for her diploma thesis “Home-from-Home. Hospitality for people with dementia. An innovative concept from Scotland” in 2010. She worked as a social worker in a nursing home, in a hospital and with a specialized inpatient palliative care service team. Maria holds a doctoral degree in nursing sciences from the Private Universität für Gesundheitswissenschaften, Medizinische Informatik und Technik, Hall in Tirol, Austria. In her doctoral thesis she explored the significance of smell and taste in the course of life following a resource-oriented approach. She is actively involved in palliative care research and teaching since 2012 and is currently head of the research team at the Department of Palliative Medicine at the University Hospital Erlangen, Germany. Her focus is on health services research.

Maria has a strong interest in investigating the needs of people at their end of life and their families. She investigates the different perspectives on the quality of end-of-life care. One of her major publications is about the German validation study of the quality of dying and death questionnaire (QoDD) for informal caregivers, funded by German Cancer Aid. The study was performed in cooperation with the Department of Palliative Medicine at the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany. With the same working group, she recently finished a validation study funded by the German Research Foundation of the Care of the Dying Evaluation (CODE) questionnaire that assesses the quality of care of patients in their last days of life. In an awarded project on dealing with multidrug-resistant bacterial microorganisms in end-of-life care, funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research in the years 2014 to 2016, her research group succeeded in developing national recommendations. The recommendations were provided via the German Association for Palliative Medicine to transfer research findings directly back into practice and to verify their usefulness and coherence in clinical care.

Maria appreciates the interactions with patients, their families, clinical staff, the public and researchers with various professional backgrounds to identify areas of improvement of health services and to develop new strategies to enhance the quality of end-of-life care.

* The Palliative Medicine Early Researcher Award is supported by Palliative Medicine.

Dr Maria Heckel

Clinical Impact Award – Dr Mark Taubert
Mark is a palliative care consultant and senior lecturer in Cardiff. He grew up in Hessen in Germany and settled in Wales, the land of song, in 2004. Apart from working as a hospital physician, he is also a member of the Welsh End of Life Care Board, clinical lead for the coalition Byw Nawr/Live Now and is the national strategic lead for Advance & Future Care Planning in Wales. He is a teaching faculty member for Harvard Medical School's Global Clinical Scholars Research Training (GCSRT) programme, and on the editorial board for BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. He works closely on projects with the Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Centre (MCPCRC) at Cardiff University.

His research interests lie in novel ways of facilitating discussions between patients and healthcare professionals, in particular the use of new media like Twitter and YouTube. Mark created the TalkCPR website, YouTube videos and app, allowing patients to find out more about complex advance and future care planning decisions in particular resuscitation in palliative illness. He has also given a Ted Talk on palliative care. He writes regularly for international newspapers and web based media outlets, and is passionate about making palliative care more relatable and understandable. He has published widely in academic journals on the topic of palliative social media.

In 2016 he had a brief brush with fame, when his posthumous letter to David Bowie, which covers the components of good end of life care, went viral on the internet and in global newsrooms. The letter has since been made into a classical music composition which was aired on BBC Radio 3, and has been publicly read out by public figures in locations including New York, London, Hay-on-Wye and Berlin. 

Mark took part in a BBC Horizon programme on Palliative Care alongside the science presenter Kevin Fong, and has also done extensive media work with the BBC and ITV.

On occasion, he acts as an adviser for a Welsh TV soap opera, on matters medical, end of life and palliative, and has thus far choreographed the deaths of two of the programme's main characters. But please don’t tell anyone.

Cardiff University Profile:

Twitter: @DrMarkTaubert

Dr Mark Taubert


Post-Doctoral Award - Geana Paula Kurita
Research graduate in Nursing and Obstetrics at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Post-graduated as a Master of Science, PhD, and post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Kurita has enhanced skills in pain treatment, cognitive assessment, and symptom control in palliative care patients. Her primary area of research expertise is the complex interaction between pain and opioids and the roles they may play in producing cognitive impairment. Currently she is a Senior Researcher at Rigshospitalet Copenhagen University Hospital (Denmark) and is engaged in several international collaborations.

1.  Education


Post-Doctorate – University of Sao Paulo, Brazil


Doctorate (Ph.D.) - School of Nursing, University of SãoPaulo, Brazil


Master of Science -School of Nursing of University of São Paulo, Brazil


Teaching in Nursing - Faculty of Education, University of São Paulo, Brazil


Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing, University of São Paulo - Brazil

2.  Experience

Mar 2013- present

Senior Researcher - Section of Palliative Medicine/Oncology Department and Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Rigshospitalet, Denmark

Nov 2007- Feb 2013

Research fellow - Section of Palliative Medicine and Multidisciplinary Pain Centre, Rigshospitalet, Denmark

2003-2006 /1999 - 2001

Research fellow - Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, Brazil

1997 - 1998

Nurse - Clinics Hospital, Medical School of University of São Paulo, Brazil


3. Research themes

  • Effects of opioids on cognitive function of patients with chronic cancer pain and chronic non-cancer pain
  • Symptom management in cancer patients and palliative care
  • Research methods
  • Systematic reviews


4. Scientific and academic activities

  • Ad-roc reviewer for Brazilian governmental research agencies and international journals on health area
  • Supervisor for Master and PhD students
  • Abstract reviewer for EAPC congresses
  • Collaborator in multicentre studies in Denmark, Brazil and projects of the European Association of Palliative Care (EAPC)
  • Vice-chair of EAPC Research Network

Geana Paula Kurita


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