Vincent Barry (1908-1975) won a scholarship to the RCScI in its last year, transferred to UCD with the merger and graduated in chemistry in 1928. Following a period in University College Galway as assistant to Professor Thomas Dillon, he returned to Dublin in 1943 with a fellowship from the Medical Research Council of Ireland to investigate the chemotherapy of tuberculosis. He set up his laboratory in UCD's chemistry department in Merrion Street and commenced his investigations. The laboratory team grew, with Barry appointed director, and moved in 1950 to larger premises
in Trinity College Dublin.
Throughout the course of their work, Barry and his colleagues synthesised and tested hundreds of new compounds. His work on tuberculosis earned him an international reputation, but the contribution that would be his great legacy came when one of the compounds proved highly effective against leprosy, a disease related to tuberculosis. This compound – now known as Clofazimine – is one of three components of the multi-drug therapy that has transformed leprosy into a curable disease.
Vincent Barry received the Boyle Medal of the Royal Dublin Society in 1969, awarded for scientific research of 'exceptional merit'. He also served as president of the Royal Irish Academy from 1970 to 1973. In 2008, celebrating the centenary of his birth, the Leprosy Mission presented a portrait of Dr. Barry to UCD president Dr Hugh Brady in recognition of 'one of the greatest Irish humanitarian achievements in history.'