Above: Director of Palliative Care at Braeside Hospital, Associate Professor Meera Agar
Director of Palliative Care at HammondCare’s Braeside Hospital in south-west Sydney, Associate Professor Meera Agar, has been awarded the European Association for Palliative Care’s (EAPC) Early Researcher Award. The award recognises the work of emerging scientists and clinicians in the field of palliative care who have recently made an outstanding contribution to research and/or academic teaching.
In announcing A/Prof Agar’s receipt of the award, an EAPC statement said, “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 emerging grant capture, an increasing portfolio of published research papers and other factors that indicate international esteem…”
As part of the award, Professor Agar will give a plenary lecture during the opening session of the congress.
HammondCare CEO, Dr Stephen Judd, congratulated Professor Agar, saying it was a significant award and well-deserved recognition for Meera’s contribution to palliative care through clinical practice, especially in her dedication to research.
“Not only does she serve Sydney’s vast south western region as Director of Palliative Care at our Braeside Hospital, but she is a major contributor to conferences and publications across the nation and beyond, as well as having a special commitment to palliative care training in Asia.”
In nominating A/Prof Agar for the award, Professor David Currow of Flinders University said her research directly helps to inform the quality of clinical care in a way that is rigorous and carefully designed to minimise impact on participants and to maximise the impact… of her findings to clinical care and policy.
“Clinically, Meera now leads a service that spans some of the most resource-challenged areas of her state together with a large population… This means that she has had to develop a clinical service that uses new and innovative methods of health service delivery. Each time she has taken a new direction, she has applied for research money to critically evaluate the program,” Prof Currow said.
The topic of delirium – which is common in palliative care patients and has a substantial impact on quality of life – has been a main focus of Professor Agar’s research. Her upcoming major clinical trial of the management of delirium with anti-psychotics, as part of her doctoral studies, is described by Prof Currow as a “landmark study internationally” which is a “visionary first” in its capacity to inform clinical practice, putting Meera at “an international level of leadership.”
A/Prof Agar said she was honoured to receive the award and pleased that Australia was leading in so many crucial areas of palliative care research including clinical trials through government funded initiatives such as the Palliative Care Clinical Studies Collaborative (PaCCSC).
“This award recognises the importance of delirium, and how it negatively impacts on people living with life-limiting illness and their caregivers,” A/Prof Agar said.
“I think it is a testament to the palliative care community knowing we need to do better in prevention and caring for people with delirium.”
Apart from her role with HammondCare, A/Prof Agar holds academic appointments at Flinders University and University of NSW, leads the NSW Improving Palliative Care through Clinical Trials research collaborative and chairs the national Trial Management Committee for PaCCSC.