The Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation

The mission of the Cicely Saunders Institute is to pioneer the very best in palliative care and rehabilitation by integrating:
  • Cutting-edge research – committed to building new knowledge and discovering new treatments through world-leading ethical and robust clinical, applied and health services research.

  • Skilled multi-professional care – delivering top-quality evidence-based clinical care and support to patients and carers, for life and living, and death and dying.

  • Innovation in engagement and education – to embed change in policy and practice nationally and internationally, engage with patients and public, and inspire tomorrow's leaders in the field from around the world.
Palliative care discussion
Cicely Saunders Institute
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Cicely Saunders Institute is the world’s first purpose-built Institute of Palliative Care, bringing together clinical palliative care teams and academic team into one building and entity.

The Institute opened in May 2010, the result of a partnership between King’s College London and the charity Cicely Saunders International. The Institute is home to distinct groupings, both clinical and academic, and is led by Professor Irene Higginson.

The Institute offers an excellent clinical academic environment, with integration of clinical and academic teams, and a rich multidisciplinary mix of health care and clinical researchers.

It has doctors (specialists in palliative medicine and general practice), nurses, therapists, social workers, social scientists, health economists, statisticians, epidemiologists, health services researchers, to bring a truly interdisciplinary mix to tackle the complex clinical, health and social care issues faced by tomorrows populations that will need palliative care.

 It spans research and innovation in palliative care and rehabilitation, taking applied research into many of the important neglected problems within health care which are faced today. 
The Institute has an active and world-leading programme of research in palliative care, policy and rehabilitation. These include: 

  • applied clinical research into symptom management, in particular breathlessness
  • applied health care research into the development and evaluation of services, especially for neglected populations, such as those with multimorbidity, dementia, neurological disease, and LGBTQ and diverse cultural and ethnic groups​​​
  • outcome measurement, developing and evaluating new measures or in new populations
  • living and dying in society, tackling issues such as access to care, support for carers, meeting preferences
  • global health palliative care  – The Cicely Saunders Institute is accredited as a WHO Collaborating Centre for Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation.

Its team use a variety of methods including:
  • systematic literature reviews and meta-analysis into service and treatment effectiveness
  • big data, including linked health and care datasets, to assess the demographic, socio-economic and clinical variables associated with patterns of care before death and place of death
  • longitudinal studies of experience among patients with different diseases, e.g. cancer, liver disease, dementia and progressive neurological conditions
  • psychometrics
  • evaluations of palliative care services using trials, quasi-experimental and other designs.
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The research programmes seek to be of the highest quality possible. The team is active in seeking external peer-review funding for research grants in palliative care from the NIHR funding streams, from charities and many others, and has experience in fellowship applications. The Institute now has over 80 staff from a wide range of disciplines.  

It includes five Professors (Higginson, Harding, Gao, Turner-Stokes, Normand), three Readers (Sleeman, Evans, Koffman), an NIHR Clinician Scientist (Sleeman), NIHR Clinical Senior Fellowship (Evans), two Senior Lecturers (Bajwah, Maddocks), as well as a range of lecturers, senior research fellows, research fellows, associates, assistants and PhD students.

​​​​​​​It is closely linked with a wide range of NHS and voluntary local services, and especially with the clinical departments at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College Hospital.

Palliative care research
Cicely Saunders

You matter because you are,
and you matter in all moments of your life.’

cely Saunders OM DBE 1918–2005


This Institute is inspired by the vision of Dame Cicely Saunders, founder  of the modern hospice movement, to be a bridge between information, education, care and science.

About Kirby Laing Foundation 

The Kirby Laing Foundation was established in 1972 by Sir Kirby Laing, with the intention that both income and capital should be applied, at the Trustees’ discretion, for general charitable purposes. The Foundation has a long history of supporting medical welfare and research, with a particular emphasis on dementia, stroke and neuro-degenerative diseases, and has been a supporter of palliative care. Lady Isobel Laing knew Dame Cicely Saunders.

About Cicely Saunders International 

Cicely Saunders International was established in 2002 by Dame Cicely Saunders, a founder trustee and its founder President. Dame Cicely is widely acknowledged as the founder of the modern hospice movement and is credited with “mentoring some of the great world leaders in this field”. Its mission is to promote research to improve the care and treatment of all patients with progressive illness and to make high-quality palliative care available to everyone who needs it – be it in hospice, hospital or home.

About Michal Galazka

Michal Galazka was a pioneer of international hospice education, and friend and collaborator of Dame Cicely Saunders and Professor Irene Higginson. He graduated from Harvard and founded a non-profit organization, the Hospice Education Institute which became an international organization, recognized and highly regarded around the world.

About the Faculty of Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

The Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care (FNNMPC) is a world-leading centre for education, training and research. In the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, we are ranked number two in the world for nursing and in the Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects, we are ranked number five in the world. The Cicely Saunders Institute is the only purpose built Institute for Palliative Care in the World, and is top in the UK and second in the world for research citations on palliative care.
Cicely Saunders students
We currently have around 3,000 undergraduate, postgraduate taught and research students and around 140 academic, and research and clinical staff, supported by 113 professional services staff. We are international in our outlook and around 20% of our students are from the EU and rest of the world.

​​​​​​​The Faculty has its origins in the work of two remarkable women.  Florence Nightingale who established the first professional nurse training school at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1860 and Dame Cicely Saunders, noted for her work in terminal care research and her role in the birth of the hospice movement.   We are committed to shaping the future of healthcare and promoting education, research and networks, underpinned by our central belief in a robust, evidence-based approach.

The Faculty is located at two central London campuses - King’s College Hospital in Camberwell/Denmark Hill, and James Clark Maxwell Building at Waterloo. All are in easy access to central London. 

The Faculty has a new research strategy, has created distinct research divisions, and a new Nightingale-Saunders Complex Clinical Trials and Epidemiology Unit, led by Professor Toby Prevost. The Trials Unit is part of the King’s College London NIHR accredited Clinical Trials Unit.

About King’s College London

King’s College London is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, learning & understanding in the service of society.

King's College London offers an intellectually stimulating environment in which to work, where staff are dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and learning in the service of society. We are a multi-Faculty institution, providing high-quality education, research and innovation across the sciences, humanities, medicine, law, dentistry, and social sciences. As a member of the Russell Group, an association of leading UK research-intensive universities, we are committed to maintaining the highest standards in research and education. King's is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres spread across its three teaching hospitals.

King's is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2020) and the fourth oldest university in England, based in the heart of London. King's has over 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries, and over 8,500 employees. King’s is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of just over £900 million (2019).