'Bridging the academic-clinical divide is such a key issue these

October 19, 2007

Lancaster's new professor of palliative care will focus on cancer pain management via research and clinical work. Mike Bennett's appointment as professor of palliative medicine at Lancaster University will allow him, he said, a rare opportunity to bridge the academic-clinical divide.

Professor Bennett will be based at the International Observatory on End of Life Care at Lancaster, but he will also conduct clinical work at St John's Hospice in the city, where he will hold the post of honorary consultant.

"My new role will be a mixture. There will be clinical work at St John's Hospice, but the main element will be the academic programme, the research, at Lancaster University," he said.

"I'm very excited because it's an unusual post in that it matches clinical with academic work and being able to contribute to developing better methods of pain relief. Being able to bridge that academic-clinical divide is such a key issue for medical academics these days."

Professor Bennett, who is married with two children, studied medicine at Birmingham University. He has worked at St Gemma's Hospice in Leeds for the past 16 years.

He said his role at Lancaster was to expand the research programme in cancer pain management as well as to improve clinical practice. "A lot is known about how best to manage cancer pain, but that knowledge is not always put into clinical practice. But there is more that needs to be discovered. There is a high percentage of cancer patients whose pain is not well controlled."

Professor Bennett said drugs might not be the best way to tackle cancer pain. "One of the projects we're working on is transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, (equipment for which) can be bought on the high street. "We are researching how effective that might be in relieving cancer pain," he said.

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