March 2014

Celebrating International Women's Day 2014

Sat, 8 March 14 09:00

From the early medicine students who enrolled in the Catholic University in 1899 to the young radiography students who presented this week at a major international conference, the School celebrates International Women’s Day 2014 by saluting a few of its distinguished female students, graduates and staff, past and present.

Dr Kathleen Lynn (1874 – 1955)

Following her graduation in 1899, Dr Kathleen Lynn went to the US where she worked for ten years but returning to Ireland.  From 1910-1916, she was the first female doctor at the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital.  Equally active role in political affairs, this suffragette worked in Liberty Hall with Constance Marckievicz providing food and care for destitute families during the Dublin Lock-Out of 1913.  She was Chief Medical Officer within the Irish Citizen’s Army during the 1916 Rising and following spells in Kilmainham jail, she became vice-president of Sinn Fein.

Although Kathleen Lynn was elected to Dail Eireann in 1923, by this time she was concentrating on her medical life.  In 1919 she and a number of other politically-active medical women founded St. Ultan’s Hospital for Infants in Charlemont Street, Dublin. The initial focus was on treating syphilitic infants due to the epidemic in working class Dublin at that time. St Ultan’s offered Dr Lynn and her fellow women doctors, a place where they could shape their own medical careers, and make a distinctive contribution.  Dr Kathleen Lynn died in 1955 and was buried with full military honours.  In December 2012, the School honoured Dr Kathleen Lynn by naming one of our lecture theatres in her name.

Mary Connolly (nee McGivern) (1900 – 1990)

One of only twelve female students in her class, Mary McGivern graduated from UCD Medicine in 1925.  She married J.J Connolly (UCD Medicine 1923) who set up a GP practice in Mary’s home town of Banbridge in 1933.  Although she initially gave up practice to care for her young family, Mary also worked in her husband’s practice dispensing medicine.  She returned to her GP work when her husband was called up for war duty, building the practice and employing an assistant female doctor, Dr Olivia Clarke.  Although he returned briefly to practice after the war, Mary’s husband eventually retired due to ill health leaving Mary to maintain the thriving practice.  She served on the Board of her local hospital and Mary McGivern Connolly continued to practice until the age of seventy before handing the reigns over to one of her sons.


Dr Kathleen Lynn + Dr Anne Merriman, Distinguished UCD Medicine Graduates

Dr Anne Merriman (UCD Medicine 1963)

Liverpudlian, Dr Anne Merriman graduate from UCD Medical School in 1963.  She undertook her clinical training at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital before completing her internship in the International Missionary Training Hospital in Medicine, Drogheda.  Three two-year postings to the Medical Missionaries of Mary hospitals in South East Nigeria were interspersed with stints in Drogheda, Dublin and Edinburgh where she successfully took her MRCPI and MRCP examinations as well as a diplomas in Child Health and Tropical Medicine. 

Returning to the UK to look after her incapacitated mother, she completed her training in geriatric medicine and was appointed consultant physician and clinical lecturer at the University of Liverpool.  Following a senior lecturer appointment at the University of South Manchester, Anne returned to Merseyside where she became head of the Department of Geriatric Medicine at Whiston Hospital.

She was subsequently appointed associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang and then Senior Teaching Fellow at the Department of Community, Occupational and Family Medicine at the National University of Singapore.    She became a Founder Member of the Hospice Care Association of Singapore and made major contributions to that discipline, not only in Singapore, but also in South East Asia generally.

In 1990, Anne was invited to be the first Medical Director of the Nairobi Hospice in Kenya.  During her time in that role, she realised the terrible suffering of terminally-ill patients in a country where oncology treatment was available only for the privileged few, and where patients tragically only presented at a late and often incurable stage of their disease. Dame Cecily Saunders, the legendary foundress of the International Hospice Movement, asked her to publish her views on palliative care in Africa. As a result, Dr. Merriman received numerous invitations from a variety of African countries requesting her to assist in setting up palliative care services along the lines of the model that her team had successfully pioneered in Kenya.

This “Merriman Model” was the inspiration that was to drive the development of affordable and locally accessible services for the African subcontinent in the ensuing decade. In 1993, Hospice Africa Uganda was founded. Under Anne Merriman’s leadership, this introduced a model system of terminal care customised to developing countries with limited resources. She founded the Palliative Care Association of Uganda and was its founding Vice President. On a continent-wide basis, she became a founder member of the African Palliative Care Association.

In 2007, Dr Merriman was conferred with an Honorary Fellowship of the School in recognition of her lifetime’s work as an internationally pioneer of hospice care.  She has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her 33 years of service to the development of palliative care in Africa.


Professor Catherine Godson

Professor Catherine Godson obtained her BSc (Biochemistry) and PhD (Pharmacology) from UCD and, following postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Geneva and at University of California San Diego, joined the faculty of Harvard University in 1994. She returned to UCD in 1997 where she was appointed Professor of Molecular Medicine and UCD Conway Investigator.  Professor Godson served between 2004–2007 as the University’s Vice President, Innovation and Corporate Partnerships.

In 2007, she was appointed Director of UCD Diabetes Research Centre, where she leads a major research programme funded by Science Foundation Ireland and collaborators in biopharmaceutical industry. Professor Godson has an international reputation in research on inflammation and its resolution, microvascular complications of diabetes and extracellular signal transduction. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers, review articles, patents and book chapters. Professor Godson’s research activities are supported by grants from Science Foundation Ireland, Wellcome TrustHealth Research Board and the European Union.

Professor Godson was appointed to the Health Research Board in 2007, is a member of the European Medical Research Council and also serves on several international grant review committees, including the Wellcome Trust Physiological Sciences Committee. In 2011, she was elected as a member of the Royal Irish Academy, one of the highest academic honours available to Irish scientists.

Married to Dr Maurice Treacy, biotechnology entrepreneur and Partner at Growcorp Group, the couple’s daughter Molly is currently in Stage 2 Medicine at UCD.

IWD 2014 - GC & DG - 579 x 305

Dora Gorman (Stage 3 Medicine)

An Irish international footballer, Dora Gorman is a Stage 3 Medicine student and a UCD Ad Astra Elite Athlete Scholar.  She has won sporting honours across a number of sports including GAA, soccer and hockey.  A member of the Galway Ladies Senior GAA football team, she has won county titles with her club Salthill/Knocknacarra. 

Her soccer career started with Salthill Devon and she currently plays for Peamount United.  Dora has captained the Republic of Ireland U17 Women’s Soccer team at the European Championships in Switzerland, the first time an Irish women’s team at any level had qualifier for the finals of a major tournament.  She also captained the U19 Senior Women’s Soccer team in the 2012 Algarve Cup.  She made her senior international debut in October 2011, coming on as a late substitute to provide an assist for Ireland’s second goal in their 2-0 victory over Israel in the UEFA Women’s European Championship 2013 qualifiers.  Dora has also represented Ireland in the World Student Games in Russia in 2013.

Dora created sporting history at UCD by becoming the first woman to play in the UCD Men’s "Med Cup".  Following a length injury layoff, she returned to competitive action the following year as goalkeeper in the women’s "Med Cup".  Her team lifted the trophy after a dramatic penalty shoot-out in which she saved to opposition spot-kicks before calmly dispatching the winner.

 Staff and Students of UCD Medicine

UCD Medicine Students

These are just a few of our female graduates, staff and students who have and are establishing the School’s reputation through their talent, leadership and achievements.  On International Women’s Day 2014, we salute all women, celebrated or not, who make a difference to the lives of our students, patients and their families every day.