Bakitas receives AAHPM award

Photo of Marie Bakitas

By Laura Gasque

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship Marie Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN, is the recipient of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s 2024 State of the Science in Palliative Care Research Mentoring Award. The award recognizes those who have demonstrated research impact, promoted the development of other researchers, and inspired the next generation.

“Being recognized as a Palliative Care Research Mentor is an amazing but surreal honor,” Bakitas said. “Imagine getting an award for working with some of the most brilliant, hard-working, fun, and inspiring people across the globe who are passionate about advancing palliative care for the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Frankly, it’s a challenge to keep up with them and most days I feel more like the mentee.”

Bakitas will be recognized during the Annual Assembly of Hospice and Palliative Care in March. Bakitas is internationally recognized in pain and palliative care science. Focused on reducing suffering and enhancing quality of life for persons with advanced illness and family caregivers, especially in rural and underrepresented 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 Heersink School of Medicine in the Department of Medicine, Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care; is 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 in the UAB Integrative Center for Aging Research.

Bakitas is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, and a Fellow in Palliative Care Nursing. She has received numerous 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. Bakitas maintains an active NIH-funded research program and most recently is the co-director of the Career Enhancement Core of the Cancer Awareness, Research, Engagement and Support Center (CARES) NCI 1 U54 CA280770-01, a center that is building research capacity through mentorship of early-stage investigators dedicated to cancer prevention and control research in Persistent Poverty areas.

“As I reflect on this honor, I’m reminded of my own kind and generous mentors, who provided invaluable critiques and complements that helped me to grow,” Bakitas said. “I hope I can pay that gift forward by supporting all SON faculty and trainees through the mentorship and scholarship resources that the Office of Research and Scholarship provides.”

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