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29 Jun 2015

University of York professor recognised for research impact

A University of York sociologist has won joint first prize in the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Outstanding Impact in Society Award for 2015.

Professor Celia Kitzinger, Co-Director of the Coma and Disorders of Consciousness Research Centre, won the award alongside her colleague and sister Professor Jenny Kitzinger, Cardiff University. The award recognises their work conducted on family experiences of coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious state.

Prompting public debate, discussions of medical ethics and informing policy documents including new National Clinical Guidelines on prolonged disorders of consciousness, the two researchers also worked with Oxford University and the DIPEx charity to create a multi-media, online resource providing information and support for families and practitioners.

Launched in September 2014, the resource on healthtalk.org has reached over 4,000 people and is also being used in training healthcare and legal practitioners.

The work has also been translated into a Radio 3 programme, 'Coma Songs' which challenges common cultural misrepresentations of comas and reached around 59,000 people.

In addition to the ESRC award, the research received national recognition earlier this year coming joint-runner-up in the Guardian University Awards 2015 and winning Cardiff University’s Innovation Policy Award earlier this month.

Professor Celia Kitzinger said: “The ESRC impact awards show the importance of social science research in creating positive social change – from challenging forced marriage and domestic violence to helping families whose relatives have disappeared. We are delighted that our own research on coma and disorders of consciousness has been recognised for its impact on practice and policy.”

The ESRC’s Celebrating Impact Prize recognises and rewards the successes of ESRC-funded researchers who have achieved, or are currently achieving, outstanding economic and societal impacts.

The winners were announced at Central Hall in Westminster, London on 24 June.

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