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Posted: 10 June 2008

MS scientist and distinguished philanthropist honoured by UCD

The first scientist to conclude from his medical studies that the causes of Multiple Sclerosis were both genetic and environmental, Dr Geoffrey Dean was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Science by University College Dublin on 05 June 2008. UCD also conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws on Mr Anthony Pilaro at the same official ceremony in recognition of his philanthropy, and in particularly his contributions to Ireland.

Dr Dean’s discoveries in the field of MS helped our understanding that environmental insults, like viruses and chemicals, trigger disease predominantly in those people who are genetically at risk from that particular insult rather than the population as a whole.

Pictured far right: Dr Geoffrey Dean and Mr Anthony Pilaro at the official conferring ceremony which took place in O'Reilly Hall, UCD on 05 June 2008

“At a time when very little was understood about the causation of multiple sclerosis; in examining the patterns of MS in South Africa and in particular comparing rates of MS in populations who had originated from northern Europe he concluded that there must be environmental factors that were causally associated with MS,” said Professor William Powderly, Head of the UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, who gave the citation at the conferring ceremony in UCD.

Born in 1917 in Wales of UK and Irish parents, Dr Geoffrey Dean qualified as a medical practitioner in Liverpool. Having served with distinction as a medical officer in the Second World War, Dr Dean went on to practice medicine in South Africa for twenty years.

In 1967, Dr Dean arrived on Irish shores and one year later he was appointed the first Director of Ireland’s Medico-Social Research Board (MSRB) where he built a research base for the Irish health services. He has continued to undertake research into MS in Europe. In 2003, he was awarded a CBE by the British government in recognition of his contribution to medical research which has also promoted an improved understanding of lung cancer and motor neurone disease.

“Anthony Pilaro has for many years provided generous and often anonymous philanthropic support in a manner which best exemplifies the responsibility of the successful businessman to change and contribute to the betterment of the human condition,” said Professor William Hall, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, who gave the citation at the conferring ceremony in UCD.

An attorney, investment banker and philanthropist, Anthony Pilaro is the current Chairman of the CAP Charitable Foundation and of CAP Advisors Limited of Dublin, a company with extensive investment experience of hedge funds, venture capital and private equity.

As a donor to his alma mater, the University of Virginia, he initiated the Jerome Holland Scholarship for African-American undergraduate students and the need-based Hardy Dillard Scholarships at the University of Virginia, Law School. He founded the Ron Brown Scholar Programme which awards young African Americans of exceptional promise $40,000 collage scholarships, with ongoing support, to accelerate their progress into leadership positions.

Mr Pilaro also founded and chairs the Council on African American Affairs, a research and outreach centre that enables young people to address issues facing the African American community.

His philanthropic support in Ireland includes: the founding of The Studio exhibition gallery in Dublin, where two graduates each year are invited to live and study, and are provided with a stipend, in order to develop their art; and the significant gift he gave to help establish the Centre for Research in Infectious Diseases (CRID) at UCD.

“At present, CRID is operating at full-capacity and has students and researchers from over 10 countries including the USA, China, Japan, Brazil, Africa and several EU countries,” said Professor Hall. “There is no question that CRID would not exist today had it not been for Anthony Pilaro’s support and generosity.”

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MS scientist and distinguished philanthropist honoured by UCD