June 2017 | Meitheamh 2017

Sudden Death of Distinguished UCD Alumnus

Sun, 4 June 17 12:00

Queen’s University Belfast has announced the sudden death of their President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston.  The UCD School of Medicine extends its sincere sympathies to his family, friends and colleagues.  Prof Johnston’s untimely death robs the island of an inspiring academic leader and an internationally renowned cancer researcher.

From the Waterside in Derry, Paddy Johnston attended St Columba’s College in the city before enrolling in UCD Medicine in September 1976.  He graduated with a MB BCh BAO degree in Medicine in 1982 and later completed a Diploma in Child Health (1985) and a Doctor of Medicine (1990) degree at the University before being conferred with a PhD (UCD 1996).  He undertook his internship at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and at St James’s Hospital in Dublin before commencing oncology and haematology training at the Mater Hospital. 

After completing his medical training, Paddy took up a fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland in 1987 and was appointed senior research scientist in 1991. He returned to Ireland in 1996 to take up the position of Professor of Oncology at Queen’s University Belfast where he established the University’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology.  He was appointed Dean of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences and created an Institute of Health Sciences in 2007.  Prof Johnston was appointed Chair of the Translational Research Group of the UK’s Medical Research Council in 2012 and was appointed President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University in 2014.

Throughout a distinguished research career, Prof Johnston investigated mechanisms of drug resistance in cancer therapy. He has published over 200 peer reviewed articles, filed more than 20 patents and has been awarded over €100 million in competitively awarded research funding from Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, Atlantic Philanthropies and the National Institutes of Health.  He established numerous cross border collaborations in cancer and acted as a mentor and advisor to many clinicians and scientists in the Republic of Ireland and was a founding member of the National Cancer Institute-All Ireland Cancer Consortium.  As a clinician leader, he led the re-organisation of cancer services in Northern Ireland resulting in a significant reduction in cancer mortality across the Provence.  As an innovator, he founded several biotechnology companies including the Craigavon-based Almac Diagnostics.

Paddy was a highly respected clinician scientist who raised the standard of cancer research and treatment across the country through his leadership, collaboration and inspiration.  He was a warmly regarded colleague and friend to many across Irish academia and beyond. 

Professor Johnston is survived by his wife Iseult and four sons, Seamus, Eoghan, Niall, and Ruairí to whom we send our condolences.

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