Professor Maria Fitzgerald's inspiration: Dame Cicely Saunders

Cicely Saunders founded the hospice movement and was the first ever modern doctor to devote her entire professional career to caring for those at the end of life. Her primary interest was pain and how to relieve it, particularly for those suffering from terminal illness. She trained as a nurse and a doctor and virtually single-handedly drove the concept of pain relief and palliative care into mainstream clinical practice. While not a scientist herself, she understood the importance of scientific endeavour in changing medical opinion, and encompassed physiological, psychological and sociological components into her view of ‘total pain’. I have been inspired by Cicely Saunders’ battle with the establishment to be taken seriously, her extraordinary emotional intelligence, her humour, resilience and energy. And of course, her humanity.

About Professor Maria Fitzgerald

Maria Fitzgerald is an expert in the basic neurobiology of pain processing. Her laboratory in the UCL Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology focusses upon spinal cord and brain circuits that underlie acute and chronic pain and how these circuits develop. She has demonstrated that pain sensitivity in adults is shaped by pain experiences in early life. Her pioneering work has had a major impact on pain measurement and management in infants and children.