King’s College London announces new Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute

Categories: Featured, People & Places, and Research.

Professor Richard Harding has been appointed as the new Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation at King’s College London, taking over from Professor Irene Higginson on 1 June 2021. Richard will provide strategic and operational leadership and management to advance the Institute’s mission to pioneer the very best in palliative care and rehabilitation to benefit the care, treatments and services for the people who need it.

Richard is Herbert Dunhill Chair at the Cicely Saunders Institute and his research focuses on the global health dimensions of palliative care (particularly in sub-Saharan Africa), outcome measures and intervention development and testing. He also has a strong interest in family caregiver outcomes.

Richard will be Director of the Institute in addition to his current roles as Director of the Centre for Global Health Palliative Care, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre in the Cicely Saunders Institute and Vice Dean (International) in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing,
Midwifery & Palliative Care.

Find out more about Professor Harding’s research at

The Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy & Rehabilitation is the first purpose-built institute dedicated to palliative care and holds a world leading position for its research, education, clinical-academic integration, and staff development. It opened in May 2010, the result of the fundraising and development partnership between the King’s College London and the charity Cicely Saunders International.

As Director, Richard will lead on the integration of cutting-edge research, skilled multi-professional care and innovation in engagement and education central to the Institute’s mission develop and deliver the highest quality palliative care and rehabilitation.

‘I am delighted with the appointment of Professor Richard Harding as the new Institute director. He is a highly respected member of the Institute and I have worked with him over the last decade. I’m confident that he will develop the Institute further following Professor Higginson, who created and built the Institute over the last 20 years.’ – John B McGrath, Chairman, Cicely Saunders International

Richard originally trained in Social Sciences and Social Work and worked as an HIV palliative care manager before joining King’s on an NHS London funded PhD scholarship in 1998. Since then, he has achieved success around the world working across research, education, policy influence and partnership collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and universities. Richard has 350 publications and currently leads studies in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the UK. Early on in
his career Richard was given a Visiting Fellowship to the Health Resources and Service Administration via Columbia University, where he worked with the White House National AIDS Office to develop the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme.

In addition to the leadership roles he holds at King’s College London, Richard is a Board Member of the Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance, is co-Chair of the African Palliative Care Research Network, holds a visiting Chair in Palliative Care at the University of Cape Town and is a Trustee at both Marie Curie, and AIDS Impact. In 2013 Richard was awarded the African Palliative Care Association prize for leading publications in palliative care.
I am delighted to be appointed as Institute Director. I look forward to working with the Institute’s excellent team of academics, researchers, clinicians, educators, and professional services to deliver on our mission of Institute’s cutting-edge research, skilled multi-professional care, and innovation in engagement and education.’ – Professor Richard Harding, incoming Director of Cicely Saunders Institute

Richard will be taking over from Professor Irene Higginson, who is stepping down to focus on her role as Executive Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care at King’s. Irene, who has been Director at the Institute since it opened in 2010 is now a Founding Professor at the Institute and remains involved as a member of the senior team and through her programmes of research.

‘I am delighted Richard will be taking over as Director of the Cicely Saunders Institute and have no doubt he will lead on an inspiring ambition for the years ahead. Having been Director of the Institute since it opened in 2010, I will continue to be actively involved as Founding Professor, continuing my research programmes, supporting education, and taking a small share in the management, especially in relation to our Clinical Academic Group. There is an excellent leadership team in the Cicely Saunders Institute, and I hope that they will continue to share their expertise and enthusiasm for the Institute’s mission. – Professor Irene Higginson, Founding Professor in the Cicely Saunders Institute and Executive Dean of the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care



About King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2021) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 29,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,500 staff.

King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), eighty-four per cent of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*).

King’s Strategic Vision looks forward to the 200th anniversary in 2029. It shows how King’s will make the world a better place by focusing on five key strategic priorities: educate to inspire and improve; research to inform and innovate; serve to shape and transform; a civic university at the heart of London; an international community that serves the world.

More information:


About the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy and Rehabilitation

The Cicely Saunders Institute is the world’s first purpose-built Institute for Palliative Care and Rehabilitation, named after Dame Cicely Saunders (1918–2005), recognised internationally as the founder of the modern hospice movement 50 years ago. Established in 2010, the Institute is a partnership of Cicely Saunders International, King’s College London and associated local clinical services to bring together clinical and academic teams to innovate, discover, evaluate, and translate
solutions to improve care, symptom control and quality of life for patients and families affected by serious and progressive illnesses.

About Cicely Saunders International

Cicely Saunders International (Registered Charity No. 1087195) is the world’s leading charity promoting and supporting best practice and quality research in end of life and palliative care to improve the care and treatment of all those affected by progressive illness and to make high quality palliative care available to everyone who needs it.

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