Sebastiano Mercadante is a Professor of Palliative Medicine and Post-graduate Master at the University of Palermo and Director of the Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit, the Pain Relief and Palliative Care Unit and La Maddalena Clinic for Cancer in Palermo, Italy. He is also Scientific Director of SAMO Onlus, a regional home care programme, also based in Palermo. Dr Mercadante is an Associate Editor, sits on the editorial boards and/or is referee of more than 30 international peer-reviewed journals in the field of pain and symptom management and anaesthesiology. He is the author of more than 40 chapters and books and more than 350 papers published in peer-reviewed international journals. He has presented more than 400 lectures at national and international congresses. Dr Mercadante is an expert consultant for grants for Cancer Research UK, the Swiss Palliative Care Research Group, the Spanish Telecom Award and the European Commission. Dr Mercadante received the Umberto Veronesi award in 2003, awards for excellence in scientific research from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine in 2010, an award for a European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO)-designed centre of integrated oncology and palliative care in 2011 and the John Mendelson, MD, Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson cancer centre “for extraordinary contribution in palliative care” in 2013.