By Jennifer Lollar
University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Professor and Marie L. O’Koren Endowed Chair Marie Bakitas, DNSc, CRNP, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN, FPCN, has been named Interim Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship leading the Office of Research and Scholarship (ORS), effective August 3, 2020.
Bakitas takes over from David Vance, PhD, MGS, MS, who will transition to assist Bakitas in the leadership functions in the ORS. This transition will provide more time for Vance to focus on his five active grants and research studies involving neurocognition, aging and HIV. Vance has been Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship since August 2018, when he assumed the role following the unexpected and sudden death of Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN. Prior to this role, Vance served as Director of Research and Scholarly Development in the ORS.
“I think I speak for the entire School when I thank David for his tireless leadership, mentorship and work over the past two years leading the Office of Research and Scholarship team and helping our School’s faculty achieve record levels of grant funding and faculty publications,” said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “He has been a wonderful addition to our leadership team, and while I understand his desire to be able to focus more on his program of research, it is with the understanding that he is still integral to the continued success of our Office of Research and Scholarship and will still be called upon to provide his expert guidance.
“And I am thrilled that Marie has agreed to step into the Interim Associate Dean role at this time to lead this critical mission in the SON,” she continued. “Marie brings to the role her experience in sustained, well-funded research and team science, mentorship and other hallmarks key to leading our Office of Research and Scholarship, as well as her educational pathway from associate’s degree in nursing to doctor of nursing science and experience as an expert NP clinician. Her wealth of diverse nursing experiences across our three missions teaching, clinical practice and research, undoubtedly will help her lead our Office of Research and Scholarship during this transition.”
Bakitas has sustained scholarship in pain and palliative care science, leading a team of investigators and trainees that have conducted more than 50 funded research grants focused on reducing suffering and enhancing quality of life for persons with advanced illness and family caregivers, especially in rural and underserved minority populations. Her early telehealth palliative care model ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) and her subsequent work have led to fundamental practice and policy changes surrounding palliative care.
In addition to her appointment in the UAB School of Nursing, Bakitas has a secondary appointment in the UAB School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care; is Co-Director of the UAB Center for Palliative & Supportive Care University Wide Interdisciplinary Research Center; and is a Senior Scientist in Cancer Control and Population Sciences in the O'Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center and Senior UAB Integrative Center for Aging Research.
A Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, Bakitas has received countless awards for research and mentorship from the Oncology Nursing Society, the Council on the Advancement of Nursing Science, and the American Cancer Society, among others, including the 2016 Hospice and Palliative Nurses Foundation Project on Death in America Nursing Leadership Award in Palliative Care and the American Cancer Society Pathfinder in Palliative Care Award. She also has served on more than 10 national committees and advisory boards including in 2019 assuming the role as the inaugural co-chair of the Palliative and End of Life Committee, in the SWOG national cancer cooperative clinical trials group.
“Drs. Bakitas and Vance will work to transition the Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship role over the next several months to ensure stable leadership and operation with the Office of Research and Scholarship team,” Harper said. “Please join me in thanking Dr. Vance for his continued service and Dr. Bakitas for her willingness to lead the advancement of our research and scholarship mission in the UAB School of Nursing.”