Scientific Committee behind the scenes organising the Seminar

Professor Sonja McIlfatrick (Chair of the Scientific Committee) is newly appointed Dean of Doctoral College at Ulster University and a Professor in Nursing and Palliative Care. She is a distinguished academic whose career has spanned clinical practice, postgraduate education, academia, research, and scholarship.  Sonja is an internationally recognized leader in palliative care research publishing extensively in the area. She has a keen interest in doctoral education and served as the first non-US based President for the International Network of Doctoral Education in Nursing. She holds various Visiting Professor appointments and has served on numerous international research-funding boards. She was appointed as Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and awarded a Fellowship of the Royal College of Nursing, UK. She is a UK Florence Nightingale Leadership Scholar and a graduate of Harvard authentic leadership course. Her current role involves leading the institution regarding post graduate research and developing good practice for doctoral education.  Her research interests include palliative care in chronic illness, management of clinical symptoms; decision making at end of life; and public health approach to palliative care

Barbara Gomes is invited coordinating researcher (equivalent to full professor) at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra, Portugal. She holds a first degree in Psychology and Health from University of Porto (2001), and an MSc and PhD in Palliative Care from King’s College London (2006, 2012). The aim of Barbara’s research is to proof care at the end of life, to ensure it matches people’s preferences and priorities. She has surveyed patient and family experiences with end of life care and analysed population mortality data across nations, with a focus on tackling the mismatch between where people would prefer to die and where they actually die. Barbara has published over 70 papers (H index = 30; >5000 citations in high impact journals, with first authored publications in the BMJ, Annals of Oncology and JAMA). She has been recently awarded a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant to develop a pioneering international classification of dying places, which will enable mapping preferred and actual places.

Dr Carl Johan Fürst is professor in palliative medicine at Lund University, Sweden. He has his clinical background in oncology and palliative medicine and his academic training includes a doctorate in medical sciences and epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. The present academic activities focus on the traditional areas of teaching, research, and development in diverse aspects of palliative care including symptom control, development and evaluation of clinical guidelines, quality indicators and quality registers, communication skills, leadership, and bereavement. He is currently engaged as an executive board member of the International collaborative for best care of the dying person.

Dr Fürst has been a board member of EAPC and was engaged in several activities of EAPC, e.g., the Budapest congress and initiatives to support the international development of palliative care. He was Invited faculty at the Leadership Development Initiative (LDI) towards palliative care leaders in developing countries held in San Diego, USA, with a special responsibility the development of a mentor curriculum.

Dr Felicity Hasson is a Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Nursing Research at Ulster University with over twenty-five years’ experience in research in palliative and end of life care. A marketing and social research background, she has extensive experience and knowledge of qualitative, quantitative and mixed method research. Her research interests include workforce,  palliative care and chronic illness (malignant and non-malignant with patients, families and multi-disciplinary health care professionals) and public awareness of palliative care and end of life issues. Felicity sits on the Council of Partners for the All-Ireland Institute of Hospice and the Palliative Care and is on the executive board of the Palliative Care Research Network (PCRN) and Palliative Care Research Society UK.

Professor Joachim Cohen is a social health scientist and a professor of the End-of-Life Care Research Group of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. In the research group he is chairing a research program on public health and palliative care.

He graduated in 2001 as a Master in Sociology and in 2007 as a PhD in Social Health Sciences.

His research has been awarded with the Kubler Ross Award for Young Researchers and the Young Investigator Award from the European Association of Palliative Care 2010. Both prizes were awarded to him, mainly because of his large-scale population-based and population-level cross-national research on end-of-life care.

Prof. Cohen has published over 220 articles in international peer reviewed journals and co-edited the Oxford University Press book: “A public health perspective on end of life care”. He has 5870 citations in Web of Science and a h-index of 41.

Karen Charnley, Director of All Ireland Institute of Hospice and Palliative Care (AIIHPC) provides strategic leadership and brokers relationships between the Institute’s 26 partner organisations (universities, hospices, health and social care organisations and charities), funders and key stakeholders. Karen leads the Institute Team and oversees the delivery of the Institute’s Business Plan across education, research, policy and practice, service user and carer engagement and raising awareness. Karen also represents the Institute on key regional and national fora and contributes to palliative care policy and strategic discussions.

Karen has worked both in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and has significant leadership and management experience in a range of sectors including housing and homelessness, economic development, and offender management. She was previously a Programme Manager within the Institute where she led on the development of the Palliative Hub.

Paula Pinto is a Chilean lawyer with a Diploma in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship. She has worked in the private sector particularly in insurance and shipping; She has worked in the charity sector where she gained extensive experience in NGO grants management, developed policies, and ensured compliance to funders and charity regulations.

Dr Libby Sallnow is a palliative medicine consultant with CNWL NHS Trust in London, UK, an honorary senior clinical lecturer at St Christopher’s Hospice and the UCL Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, UK and a post-doc researcher and guest professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Belgium. She has helped lead and develop the fields of new public health approaches to end of life care, compassionate communities and social approaches to death, dying and loss over the past two decades in the UK and internationally. She is an Honorary Consultant at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Palliative Care in Kerala, India, Vice President of Public Health Palliative Care International, and the first author of the new Lancet Commission on the Value of death: bringing death back into life (2022).

Professor Luc Deliens, MA Sociology, PhD in Health Sciences, is Professor of Palliative Care Research at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University. He is the Founding Director of the multidisciplinary and multi-professional End-of-Life Care Research Group in Belgium (, with over 70 staff people, one of the largest research groups in Europe in the domain of palliative care and end-of-life studies, including on palliative care and assisted dying. He is Associate Editor of Palliative Care and Social Practice, Editorial Board member of BMC Geriatrics and Annals of Palliative Medicine, and Advisory Board Member of the two highest ranked palliative care journals, namely Palliative Medicine and the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

Internationally, he was/is involved in many EU funded international collaborative projects (EURELD, SAR, PRISMA, EURO IMPACT, ACTION, PACE, DIADIC, NAVIGATE, MYPATH) and he is council member of Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI) and chairs the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Reference Group on Public Health & Palliative Care and co-chairs the EAPC Research Network. He published over 550 papers in peer-reviewed journals and over 50 book chapters, and successfully supervised 58 PhDs in palliative care or end-of-life decision-making. He is also elected member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium.

Orla Keegan is Head of Education & Bereavement Services at Irish Hospice Foundation. She has a background in psychology and in Health Services Research. 

As part of her role, she set up the MSc Loss & Bereavement/ MSc Loss & Bereavement (Clinical Practice) run in Dublin through the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).  At Irish Hospice Foundation she works with a team aiming to promote development of bereavement care and bereavement education in Ireland.    

She is co-chair of the European Association for Palliative Care Bereavement Taskforce and a member of the steering committee for Bereavement Network Europe. 

Professor Philip Larkin has held the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Chair of Palliative Care Nursing within the Palliative and Supportive Care Service of the University Hospital Centre (CHUV) since August 2018. He also directs the Master of Science in Advanced Nursing Practice at the Institute for Higher Education and Research in healthcare (IUFRS), University of Lausanne.

An Irish national, Philip Larkin has over 30 years of experience in the palliative care sector, both clinically and academically. He has become an important figure in the field in Ireland and elsewhere: As Professor of Palliative Care at University College Dublin, he was instrumental in the development of the All Ireland Institute for Hospice and Palliative Care, a public health project bringing together The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to improves palliative care outcomes for all citizens. He was President of the European Palliative Care Association (EAPC) from 2015 to 2019.

His research has focused on access to palliative care for vulnerable populations, with a particular focus on patients with mental health issues, disability, children and palliative care needs in rural isolation, groups often marginalized in accessing palliative care. The place of compassion in palliative care is also part of his academic scholarship.

He currently leads a palliative care nursing research team at the CHUV and continues to lecture nationally and internationally on nursing care, palliative care and compassion in care.

Dr Sally Paul is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland. She is a qualified social worker with over 20 years’ involvement in practice, teaching and research relating to the experiences of loss for marginalised groups and public health approaches to death, dying and bereavement. Her current research explores the role of school curriculum and policy in shaping how children and young people are supported, or not, through the experiences of caregiving, illness, loss and death whilst in education. Sally is a member of the Association for Palliative Care Social Workers and the Scottish Partnership for Palliative Care and is committed to participatory research methods that have impact across practice and policy.