Prestigious research position created in memory of Professor Gerald O’Sullivan, to develop innovative new cancer research programmes and improve patient care in the region.

University College Cork (UCC) has unveiled a plaque acknowledging funding from one of Ireland’s leading cancer research charities, Breakthrough Cancer Research, to create a prestigious research position in memory of Professor Gerald O’Sullivan. The Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research is named after the highly acclaimed surgeon, and founder of translational cancer research in the region.

Professor Gerald O’Sullivan first established the foundation structures to link cancer researchers at UCC with clinicians and healthcare specialists in the region’s hospitals in August 1999. His aim was to facilitate translational cancer research with direct patient impact.  A pioneering medical and research professional, his world-renowned clinical expertise was matched by his belief in the power of research to mould a better future for patients. It is fitting that 9 years after his passing the Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research has been established to build on this extraordinary legacy.

Professor O’Sullivan’s wife Breda recently did the honour of unveiling the plaque, with her daughter Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research and one of her two sons Eoghan O’Sullivan also in attendance.

University College Cork and the HSE SSWHG have appointed Professor Roisin Connolly as the inaugural ‘Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research’ for the southern region.

The Chair is a significant strategic appointment for the region and Professor Connolly will be responsible for developing innovative and competitive new cancer research programmes as well as contributing to the strategic development of high-quality evidence-based cancer services across the South/South West hospital group and its two nationally-designated cancer centres. This Chair will lead to the formation of a new Institute of Cancer drawing together and building on a multiplicity of successful strands in cancer research in the region, with the aim of improving patient care.

Professor Helen Whelton, CoMH, Ms Orla Dolan, CEO Breakthrough Cancer Research, Mrs Breda O’Sullivan, Mr Eoghan O’Sullivan and Professor Roisin Connolly, Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research at UCC. Photo By Tomas Tyner, UCC.

Professor Connolly joined UCC to take up the position of Cancer Research Chair from the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre (SKCCC) at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S., where she was an Associate Professor of Oncology and Co-Director of the Developmental Therapeutics/Phase 1 Clinical Trials Programme.

Building on Professor O’Sullivan’s legacy, Professor Connolly leads patient-focused, impactful cancer research which aims to improve outcomes for patients with cancer both nationally and internationally.

At the unveiling President of University College Cork, Professor John O’Halloran, commented,

‘’I am delighted to welcome Professor Gerry O’Sullivan’s wife Mrs. Breda O’Sullivan and two of her children Orla and Eoghan to this very special commemorative event and plaque unveiling where we honour a truly remarkable gentleman; Professor Gerald O’Sullivan. It is fitting that the Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research has been established to build on his extraordinary legacy. The support of Breakthrough Cancer Research aligns with UCC strategy of promoting excellence in research through well focused research and we strongly believe that a great number of lives can be saved and the quality of life for many people who develop cancer can be improved.  For everyone in the world who has been touched by cancer or who has survived cancer it is important that we work together to find a cure”

 Orla Dolan, Chief Executive Breakthrough Cancer Research said,

“Gerry passionately believed in the power of research to improve cancer care and treatment; to save more lives.  Proud to be from West Cork, he was vehement that ideas and research from the south of Ireland could make a difference on a global scale.  It is wonderful to see this Chair build on that passion and drive, and cement the foundation structures that links world class scientists and clinicians in the region on their common patient-focused purpose.

We are excited to see Prof. Connolly’s vision build on this strong foundation and know under her leadership, cancer research, education and care in the region will flourish.”

Head of the College of Medicine and Health UCC, Professor Helen Whelton commented,

This new role is a superb opportunity to build on the legacy of Professor O’ Sullivan. On behalf of UCC, we sincerely thank Breda, Orla and Eoghan O’Sullivan for their tremendous and on-going support. This is a hugely important appointment for Cork and Ireland and highlights the transformative impact that philanthropy can have. It is of strategic importance in terms of our Alumni and Development programme and hugely enhances Cancer Research @ UCC. It is one of a number of key hires in the cancer space for UCC, as Cork expands its footprint in this setting’’

Professor Connolly also commented,

“Although I never personally met Prof O’ Sullivan, his energy, drive and commitment to improving outcomes for patients living with or at risk of cancer is so evident from speaking to those who knew him and observing what he has built. It is truly an honour to take up this role, to move forward his agenda and unshakeable belief that cancer can be overcome if we can bring the best minds together and collaborate from the bench to the bedside.’’

Eimear Keohane, Head of Development, College of Medicine and Health said,

“This support demonstrates the transformative power of philanthropy to create sustainable impact through research. We are very grateful and together we can create lasting and significant change.”

Unveiling of the Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research.
(Front row) Professor Roisin Connolly, Professor Gerald O’Sullivan Chair in Cancer Research at UCC, Kate McSweeney, Director of Communications, Alumni and Development, UCC, Mr Cal Healy, Director of Development, Alumni and Development, UCC. Middle row: Ms Orla Dolan, CEO Breakthrough Cancer Research and Professor Helen Whelton, CoMH. Top: Ms Kerry Bryson, Director of Business Development and Advancement, Alumni and Development, UCC, Mr Eoghan O’Sullivan, Mrs Breda O’Sullivan and Professor John O’Halloran, President, UCC.
Photo By Tomas Tyner, UCC.

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