On 9 May at the 14th EAPC World Congress in Copenhagen, Dr Tora Skeidsvoll Solheim, Department of Oncology at St Olavs University Hospital/ Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, received joint-third prize in the 2015 European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Early Researcher Award. Here, she describes the inspiration and research that led to this award.
I was delighted to receive the EAPC Early Researcher Award at the EAPC World Congress in Copenhagen in May. To have our research acknowledged in this way is a great motivation to take our research projects further. I was introduced to research in palliative medicine by Professor Stein Kaasa, and by means of the EAPC, EAPC Research Network and PRC (European Palliative Care Research Centre). I have participated in several research projects since 2009. The research collaborations in palliative medicine seem to me to be unique in their general openness and willingness to truly collaborate in order to ultimately improve patient treatment, a situation which is not that common in other medical disciplines.
During the past few years I have been balancing the completion of my specialty as a medical and radiotherapy oncologist with the completion of my PhD project, and I now work part time as a consultant in oncology and part time as a researcher. It would be wonderful if other doctors could be motivated by this award and have the chance to take part in palliative care research while working in the clinic. A close collaboration between clinical work and research gives a great opportunity to find out what knowledge is lacking in order to improve clinical care in a very practical manner. There is so much practice in palliative care that is based on tradition and sentiment alone, and we need to enhance the evidence base we base our work on.
With 2,800 participants from all over the world attending the EAPC World Congress, I also appreciate that winning an Early Researcher Award is a great opportunity to increase the focus on cancer cachexia, my main field of research. We have now conducted several studies in order to improve the understanding of the complex pathophysiology of cachexia and other studies to develop cachexia classifications in order to ultimately improve targeting of patient treatment. Treatment of cachexia is an important unmet need in cancer, with severe impact on mortality and morbidity. Unfortunately, the condition is too rarely addressed, and patients feel this lack of focus from healthcare providers. This causes additional concern and increased anxiety. With Professors Kaasa (Trondheim) and Fearon (Edinburgh) as principal investigators, the European Palliative Care Research Centre is now embarking on an ambitious international intervention study investigating the effect of multimodal treatment for cancer cachexia (MENAC – a randomised, open-label trial of a Multimodal Intervention (Exercise, Nutrition and Anti-inflammatory Medication), plus standard care versus standard care alone to prevent/attenuate cachexia). So far, there is no approved treatment for cachexia that has the ability to improve function and weight, and we are really proud that our research team has now been able to open the MENAC study for inclusion. Results from the feasibility study are not yet published, but we believe that there are grounds for optimism.
- European Palliative Care Research Centre.
- Click here to see more pictures from the 14th EAPC World Congress and a special message from the organising committees.
- 5th International Seminar of the PRC (European Palliative Care Research Centre) and the EAPC RN (European Association for Palliative Care Research Network), 15-16 October 2015.
- 9th EAPC World Research Congress, 9-11 June 2016.
More about the EAPC Early Researcher Award
The Early Researcher Award is presented annually by the EAPC and is designed to recognise the work of young (novice) scientists and clinicians in the field of palliative care who have recently made, or are currently making, an outstanding contribution to research. It aims to highlight their personal career development and their potential for the future. Click here to read posts from this year’s prizewinners, Dr Kathy McLoughlin, Dr Julie Kinley and Dr Amara Nwosu.
Look out for announcements about the 2016 Early Researcher Award in the autumn.