RCSI Alumni Magazine 2022

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A L U M N I M A G A Z I N E 2022








Join over 400 ALUMNI who volunteered during the course of the last academic year as part of RCSI’s Alumni Volunteer Programme! Share your experiences and inspire current students as a Student Mentor, Alumni Ambassador, an Alumni Storyteller or a Microvolunteer.








~ REASONS TO VOLUNTEER ~ Dr Javed Machikan

Sarah Colbert-Kaip

Alumni Volunteer

RCSI Student

“I like many of my classmates, constantly considered and worried about how one career decision might influence our entire lives. I volunteered in the hope that I might be able to guide students in similar positions and alleviate some of their worries...”

“Hearing from alumni is always appreciated because you’ve been through the same institution and can give more personalised support to students. It is also very inspiring and exciting to see where alumni have gone in their careers.”


Give ack B




Aíne Gibbons

n many ways, this year is a special one. Not only is it a delight to be able once more to welcome alumni to campus for events, reunions and celebrations in Ireland and overseas, but a truly significant development, 118 St Stephen’s Green (or Project Connect as we have been calling it) comes to life. This is the second phase of our campus masterplan to deliver a new medical and research building at 118 St Stephen’s Green that will physically and metaphorically connect to our existing facilities and to the city of Dublin. It will provide a new face to the campus overlooking St Stephen’s Green and will include a double-height exhibition space dedicated to engaging the public on health matters. As our Vice Chancellor and CEO Professor Cathal Kelly says, “We are changing the face of this side of St Stephen’s Green and opening our campus to the people of Dublin, who will be welcomed to a new public space aimed at equipping them to live healthier lives.” This issue of RCSI Alumni Magazine gives our alumni a first look at this exciting scheme (page 4) and the significant role it will play in transforming the University over the next decade. This important development highlights RCSI’s ongoing investment in all aspects of heathcare education, training and research. As all alumni will know, RCSI's motto is Consilio Manuque – with Scholarship and Dexterity – with the head and the hand – and so the cover of this magazine depicts 118 St Stephen’s Green and the magnificent head of the Greek physician, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, on whose ethics and values the oath taken by RCSI students at the White Coat Ceremony, is inspired by. The Hippocrates keystone has been positioned over the oak doors of 123 St Stephen’s Green since 1825 and was the starting point for London-based Irish artist Eoin Ryan’s beautiful illustration. As a student of the National College of Art in Dublin some years ago, Eoin remembers being sent to RCSI and invited to the Anatomy Room to sketch. He says he still remembers the experience, a mix of vivid sights,

sounds and smells, the combination of history and art, of reverence for the human body and the connection with students and learning. He welcomed the commission to create an illustration to capture this new development in RCSI history: “It is an honour to draw on the inspiration and ideals of the many generations that have contributed to the place that RCSI occupies both nationally and internationally.” In May this year, the highest alumni honours were bestowed on six outstanding graduates of the six Schools at RCSI (page 10) and Professor Aubrey R Morrison received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Medical and Dental Graduates in August 2021 (page 37). With the impact of climate change on the health of patients and on those working in the healthcare professions a topic of concern globally, alumni tell us of their experiences (page 30). And, what a difference a decade makes in terms of a career: alumni tell us what life is like ten years, 20 and 30 years after graduation (page 18), the career-qualifying decade, followed by the career specialising decade and then the career consolidation years. It is, as the title of the feature says, and as the readers of this magazine will know, a long haul. Looking back, it has been a transformational decade for RCSI: we launched Ireland’s first Graduate Entry programme in Medicine and Pharmacy and the first nurse-proscribing programme in 2012, we opened Europe’s most advanced clinical simulation centre in 26 York Street in 2017, and Ireland’s only Physician Associate programme in 2018, established the Institute for Global Surgery and the Centre for Positive Health and Psychology, and achieved University status in 2020. Throughout this decade, alumni have, through their generosity, funded scholarships and academic chairs. At RCSI, we are grateful to our alumni for their part in building the ever-growing reputation of the University and the enhancement of the value of every degree from RCSI. We are deeply grateful to our Cover illustration by Eoin Ryan alumni for their support. Many alumni who return to RCSI recall the characters who shaped their education here. People like Professors Moira O’Brien and David Bouchier-Hayes and many others (page 34) are remembered for their devotion to RCSI, to teaching and to their students. Those same feelings of belonging have encouraged many alumni to get in touch, not least because the idea of a Gathering here in August has an added appeal in 2022. We look forward to welcoming more than 1,000 alumni from 36 class years. There is much to talk about! AÍNE GIBBONS DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT AND ALUMNI RELATIONS



39 RESEARCH & INNOVATION Research highlights


04 118 ST STEPHEN'S GREEN A new face for RCSI's campus

54 A LIFE’S WORK In memory of Professor Barbara T Murphy

04 Reaching Out, Drawing In

28 We are Family


10 Alumni Awards 2022

30 Feeling the Heat


RCSI expands the campus masterplan

Six exceptional alumni are honoured

16 Caught on Campus

What’s going on: students get stuck in

18 In it for the Long Haul

10, 20 or 30 years out, dedication is a career constant

23 Doing the Rounds

News, appointments and campus updates


118 St Stephen's Green. Illustration by Eoin Ryan for RCSI.


Siblings that follow the RCSI footsteps

The impact of climate change on patients and doctors

34 Through the Front Door RCSI remembers… with the help of Head Porter, Frank Donegan

37 A Special Honour

Professor Aubrey R Morrison is awarded the Distinguished Graduate Award

39 Research & Innovation Research highlights at RCSI

RCSI ALUMNI MAGAZINE is published annually by the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences. Issues are available online at rcsi.ie/alumni. Your comments, ideas, updates and letters are welcome. Contact Caoimhe Ní Néill, Alumni Relations Manager at RCSI, 123 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2; telephone: +353 (0) 1 402 8682; email: caoimhenineill@rcsi.com. RCSI ALUMNI MAGAZINE is POSTED ANNUALLY to alumni who we have listed on our database. To ensure you receive a copy, please PROVIDE YOUR CURRENT CONTACT DETAILS at rcsi.ie/alumni. RCSI ALUMNI MAGAZINE is produced by Gloss Publications Ltd, The Courtyard, 40 Main Street, Blackrock, Co Dublin. Copyright Gloss Publications. RCSI Editorial Board: Aíne Gibbons, Louise Loughran, Jane Butler, Paula Curtin, Ailbhe Mac Eoin and Caoimhe Ní Néill.


For details, see page 10

44 Set in Stone

A history of RCSI hospitals

48 Class Call

Alumni check in from all over

54 A Life's Work

In memory of Professor Barbara T Murphy

OUR HERITAGE RCSI was founded by Royal Charter in 1784 as the national training and professional body for surgery. In 1978, RCSI became a recognised College of the National University of Ireland and in 2010, RCSI was granted by the State, the power to award its own degrees. In 2019, RCSI was granted University status and became RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

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The Medical Protection Society Limited (“MPS”) is a company limited by guarantee registered in England with company number 00036142 at Level 19, The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, London, SE1 9SG. MPS is not an insurance company. All the benefits of membership of MPS are discretionary as set out in the Memorandum and Articles of Association. MPS® and Medical Protection® are registered trademarks.

RCSI’s 118 St Stephen’s Green, with its enhanced student facilities, dramatic entrance portico and glowing interior, will bring new life and welcome civility to a currently dreary corner of St Stephen’s Green.

REACHING OUT DRAWING IN The current phase of RCSI’s campus masterplan will be a lantern on the Green in Dublin. Architect and critic Shane O’Toole describes the new synergy between town and gown




RCSI’s new civic ‘front door’ onto St Stephen’s Green. Five floors for public engagement, teaching and learning, and faculty offices, topped off with a rooftop terrace and two floors of research laboratories, set back from view at the heart of the campus. The boardroom occupies the Portland stone-framed cutaway corner window.

oday’s university is among the most vital institutions in the knowledge economy, so its integration with the city is of fundamental importance to society. So much so that institutions of higher learning have become the latest driver of architectural innovation worldwide, much as tourism-led cultural buildings, museums and art galleries were during recent decades. Irish architects are at the cutting edge of this global third-level building boom, designing international award-winning campuses for leading universities across Europe, including the Luigi Bocconi private business university in Milan, the Central European University in Budapest and the London School of Economics, where recent developments such as the Saw Swee Hock student centre and the Marshall Building, in particular, have given the LSE a public face to Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the largest public square in London and one of its oldest, having been laid out in the 1630s. Soon the first phase of RCSI’s new medical quarter campus – dubbed Project Connect, but to be known as 118 St Stephen’s Green – due to open in 2025, will create the same dynamic synergy between town and gown in Dublin.

St Stephen’s Green, Dublin’s oldest and best-loved square, was created in the 1660s and gifted to the citizens of the city as a ‘green lung’ in 1880 by Sir Arthur Guinness, later Lord Ardilaun. His philanthropy is commemorated by a seated bronze statue in the Green gazing towards RCSI, set on the axis of York Street. Its foundation stone was laid in 1891 by the College’s most illustrious fellow, Sir Charles Cameron, whose pioneering work for population health advocacy is honoured through the RCSI Cameron Award, established last year to mark the centenary of his death. Cameron embodied both the theory and practice of public health medicine, contributing significantly to the debate on germs and disease during the Victorian age and even offering guidance on what to do and what to avoid during the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918. He believed that myriad causes stole people’s health, such as a lack of sanitary provisions, clean water and effective sewerage, and became a leading voice to demolish slums and construct sanitation and water supply systems, helping put an end to the consumption of cholera-bearing water, diseased meat and infected milk that had made Dublin Europe’s most deadly city. He also campaigned for public baths and wash-houses to be built.



Public Engagement: The double-height foyer, lit from all sides, will be programmed with temporary thematic exhibitions to encourage public participation in discussions around the provision of healthcare in Ireland.

Cameron’s public health legacy continues to infuse the vision for RCSI’s medical quarter campus today. Founded in 1784 as the national training body for surgery in Ireland, RCSI has evolved into a world-leading international health sciences university and research institution offering education and training at undergraduate, postgraduate and professional levels, with faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences, Nursing and Midwifery, Sports and Exercise Medicine, Dentistry and Radiology. The medical quarter will be fronted by a welcoming public outreach facility for civic engagement. The campus foyer will double as a gallery and public engagement space, with a focus on population health education. Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI’s Vice Chancellor and CEO, who is a former consultant and endovascular surgeon at Beaumont Hospital, says: “Each university offers something different. We focus on healthcare, with an international emphasis. RCSI’s innovative University of Medicine and Health Sciences and focus on postgraduate surgical training is unique in the world. We established the first Chair in Public Health, as well as the


first in Tropical Health and were the first body proscribing for nurses in Ireland. Twenty thousand healthcare leaders who have gone on to practice in 94 countries started their journey here, at St Stephen’s Green. With twelve internationally active research centres and student electives in 22 countries and 45 collaborating institutions, we are proud to be a global leader in transnational university education. “Our alumni are a key part of RCSI,” he says. “They are our ambassadors and key supporters of our students worldwide. They are also our funders, as we are an independent, not-for-profit university. We are not part of the Irish government-funded system, so we receive no block grants or state funding for capital projects.” The model works: RCSI is ranked in the top 50 universities in the world for ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’ in the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings 2022. “We are passionate about growing our city centre campus,” says Professor Kelly. “RCSI had the great foresight to buy the three office blocks of the Ardilaun Centre in the 1980s. They will eventually be redeveloped into


a medical quarter extending as far as Cuffe Street.” The first phase, 118 St Stephen’s Green, replaces one of the office blocks, situated between two protected structures, William Henry Lynn’s Unitarian Church, built in the Victorian Gothic style, and a unique pair of Georgian houses designed by the eminent architect Richard Castle around 1750. “We are embarking on a new era,” says Professor Kelly. “This landmark development will create a new front door for RCSI, transform our students’ experience and provide vital infrastructure for our pioneering health sciences research and innovation. We are changing the face of this side of St Stephen’s Green and opening our campus to the people of Dublin who will be welcomed to a new public space aimed at equipping them to live healthier lives.” RCSI turned to architects Peter McGovern and Maria Mulcahy of Henry J Lyons to plan the new campus. They previously led the design team for RCSI’s multi-award-winning development at 26 York Street five years ago. They also designed the Central Bank in Dublin’s docklands and are currently on site in Tokyo with Ireland House, the new Irish embassy in Japan. McGovern’s other credits include the Criminal Courts of Justice at Phoenix Park and proposed headquarters for both the Law Society and KPMG. “We specialise in turnkey projects for sophisticated end-user clients,” says McGovern. “Because these are highly specialised organisations with unusually complex needs, there are no off-the-shelf solutions and there tends to be a lot of brief development involved. We’ve got to reinvent how we work every time.” For RCSI, this involved a world tour of institutions that took clients and architects to the UK, Paris, Stockholm, Vancouver and North Carolina for benchmarking purposes. “The thread that holds 26 York Street and 118 St Stephen’s Green together comes down to heightening the student experience by making homely places where they want to linger. RCSI is a small school, where everybody should know everybody, so we have built in all sorts of different opportunities for chance encounters and impromptu collaborations,” says McGovern. “The big difference between the two projects is that No 26 is focused almost entirely on the student cohort, whereas No 118 combines facilities for the entire University – students, faculty and researchers – as well as a public interface, which the University intends to be at the centre of debate and the dissemination of information around the provision of healthcare in Ireland.” The form of the new building has largely been shaped by its context. Unlike the more formal Georgian squares in the city, St Stephen’s Green has a diverse character, peppered with buildings from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. There is a range of materials and styles present, with the overriding character of the streetscape being one made up of individual buildings rather than a continuous terrace. The west side of the Green has one other unusual feature: the buildings are not orthogonal to the pavement but are staggered in an angular arrangement that may be unique in Dublin. This is what prompted the building’s striking, bifurcated, five-storey front facade, with its glazed concave base of student facilities surmounted by a projecting two-storey bank of academic suites which combine to form a soaring, contemporary portico with a deep threshold that will draw people into the campus while enhancing the view of the Unitarian Church and its steeple. Operating 24 hours per day, the new facility will be a glowing lantern on the Green, animating what is currently a listless corner of the square. The accommodation is layered from front to back. Immediately beyond the threshold is a double-height foyer, including a healthcare gallery for temporary, themed exhibitions, which opens onto a 200-seat theatre that

THE FORM OF THE NEW BUILDING HAS LARGELY BEEN SHAPED BY ITS CONTEXT. ST STEPHEN’S GREEN HAS A DIVERSE CHARACTER, PEPPERED WITH BUILDINGS FROM THE 18TH, 19TH AND 20TH CENTURIES. THE WEST SIDE OF THE GREEN HAS ONE OTHER UNUSUAL FEATURE: THE BUILDINGS ARE NOT ORTHOGONAL TO THE PAVEMENT BUT ARE STAGGERED IN AN ANGULAR ARRANGEMENT THAT MAY BE UNIQUE IN DUBLIN. can be used for teaching and as a venue for conferences. Beyond the public zone is a ‘Learning Commons’, offering a diverse range of environments for student amenity and breakout spaces that encourage informal learning and teaching through casual interactions among students and staff. The Learning Commons connects the ground floor to a new entrance on Proud’s Lane, allowing easy access back to the York Street campus, and is linked by a spiral staircase to two landscaped south-facing spaces – a new courtyard garden behind 26 York Street and a reinvigorated Ardilaun Court adjoining the Unitarian Church. The layering of accommodation is repeated on the first floor with a lounge to the front, overlooking the Green, a wide variety of teaching spaces behind and, on two levels, a suite of six large student common rooms at the rear, which are directly connected by a bridge to the Library in 26 York Street. “The students spend long hours in the school,” says McGovern. “Many of them are away from home, so we wanted the Learning Commons to become a social and academic hub for the students, a place where they can build a network of colleagues.” The common rooms all have different layouts and

Vertical Campus: Cutaway cross section showing the logical ‘layer cake’ distribution of 118 St Stephen’s Green facilities. The basement includes a 200-space bicycle park.



RCSI’s new courtyard garden, showing the bridge connection between the library in 26 York Street and the student commons. The glazed facade is protected from excessive solar gain by a pattern of white ceramic fritting baked onto the glass, increasing its opacity by approximately 50%. Partly inspired by experience of the recent pandemic, this will be the first outdoor amenity space on campus.

characters. Each will serve about 100 students and provides spaces for group study, individual reading, coaching and mentoring, watching TV and even a small kitchenette. In addition, students will have access to a music room and small art space for relaxation and recreation. A high-quality environment is crucial to attracting and retaining the top quality academic and professional staff required to deliver transformative learning experiences. More space is needed to support the growth in student numbers and new curriculum and learning styles. There is also a desire to bring the Graduate School of Healthcare Management, which provides masters-level programmes for healthcare professionals, into the city campus from its current home in Sandyford. Two-and-a-half floors of academic offices round out the accommodation in the main five-storey building, which is topped off by a crystalline, double-decker, state-of-the-art research tower fitted out with 80 bench modules and 100 write-up desks, located at the heart of the scheme, set back from view. The University’s ambition is to attract the best researchers in the world to Dublin.


Subtly woven into the design are several small outdoor amenity spaces of a kind not currently available on campus – a lightwell garden on the north side, three small south-facing terraces opposite the Unitarian Church’s rose window and a rooftop terrace overlooking the Green. All of this adds up to a brilliant new innovation in lifelong learning: the vertical campus, a complex interlocking world poured with the skill of architectural magicians into a veritable Tardis of a building on one of the most prominent sites in Dublin. 118 St Stephen’s Green will be a striking building which addresses the landmark aspirations of the University while significantly improving the public realm, providing an active ground floor, curated by RCSI, hosting changing exhibitions, lectures and events. Once again, just as in Sir Charles Cameron’s time, public health is about to play a significant role in the shaping of modern Dublin. ■ Shane O’Toole HonFRIAI IntFRIBA is Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture at University College Dublin. He was awarded the International Committee of Architecture Critics’ Pierre Vago Prize for Journalism 2020.

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Every year, RCSI recognises six outstanding alumni, conferring on them RCSI’s highest honours, the Alumni Awards. Exemplary role models, RCSI Alumni Awardees for 2022 inspire all those who aspire to have an impact on healthcare and society


hen the Alumni Awards 2020 became a casualty of restrictions imposed by the global pandemic, little did we expect that these same conditions would prevail in 2021 and in 2022. For the third year running, the University acknowledged its awardees virtually. The Awardees, one from each of the six Schools, were chosen on the basis of their extraordinary accomplishments in their own field that have contributed to patient welfare and the business of healthcare, and have also enhanced the reputation of the University globally. Alumni from all over the world were invited to nominate classmates and peers. Written submissions were assessed by a panel of judges led by RCSI Vice Chancellor and CEO, Professor Cathal Kelly;

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Hannah McGee; Professor Arnold Hill (Medicine); Professor Suzanne McDonough (Physiotherapy); Professor Tracy Robson (Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences); Professor Zena Moore (Nursing and Midwifery); Professor Darran O’Connor (Postgraduate Studies) and Sara McDonnell (Graduate School of Healthcare Management). Aíne Gibbons, RCSI Director of Development and Alumni Relations said: “We are delighted to honour the recipients of these awards, our distinguished alumni who share an alma mater and are united by their experience at RCSI. From research to health equity to community practice – our Awardees are making significant contributions toward the betterment of human health. The awards have particular resonance because the nominations come directly from RCSI’s alumni community.”


School of Medicine: Lifetime Achievement Award supported by Medical Protection Society School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences: Research & Innovation Award supported by Novartis School of Physiotherapy: Positive Global Impact Award supported by Physiologix School of Nursing & Midwifery: Humanitarian & Community Award supported by WaterWipes School of Postgraduate Studies: RCSI Ambassador Award supported by HealthTech Ireland Graduate School of Healthcare Management: RCSI Rising Star Award supported by Gloss Publications








1. Professor Tarik Massoud 2. Dr Sorca O’Brien 3. Jennifer Thornton-Jones 4. Gwen Regan 5. Professor Niamh Nic Daeid 6. Dr Ben Ryan


5. 6. 11

Lifetime Achievement Award


Rising Star Award


School of Medicine

Graduate School of Healthcare Management



Professor Tarik Massoud is Professor of Neuroradiology and Director of the Laboratory of Experimental and Molecular Neuroimaging (LEMNI), Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford University School of Medicine, which is dedicated to cutting-edge innovations in molecular neuroimaging and brain theranostics. He is an academic clinician-scientist with interests in molecular and translational imaging of the brain especially in neuro-oncology and cerebrovascular diseases, neuroradiological anatomy, research education and academic training of radiologists and scientists. Trained in radiology and neuroradiology in Oxford, UCLA and Michigan, Tarik is a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists and holds a research MD from NUI in experimental neuroimaging, as well as a University of Cambridge PhD in molecular imaging and biology. From 2000 to 2013, he was a senior academic neuroradiologist at Cambridge before moving to Stanford University to establish a research programme in molecular imaging of glioblastoma. In 2019, he received the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy of Radiology Research, USA. Tarik created the Stanford Initiative for Multimodality Neuroimaging in Translational Anatomy Research (SIMITAR) to conduct hypothesis-driven research in clinical neuroimaging anatomy and is the senior co-editor of six books and editor-in-chief of Reports in Medical Imaging. He has published extensively on the construction of targeted nanoparticles that carry therapeutic microRNAs. A recent exciting adaptation of this work has been the modification of gold nanoparticles to carry RNA or DNA encoding the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus for respiratory mucosal immunisation. He is currently focusing on further pre-clinical refinements of this vaccine prior to first-inperson testing. Tarik’s interest in clinical anatomy dates back to his love of the subject as an undergraduate. “Professor Moira O’Brien was a Reader in anatomy during my pre-clinical years at RCSI – a superb but tough teacher. I knew after those years under her tutelage that I wanted to be a surgeon so I could continue to enjoy anatomy. Little did I know that I would end up choosing academic neuroradiology as my career, or that I would still, after all these years, consult her outstanding teaching notes in neuroanatomy.” Tarik also cites Professor David Bouchier-Hayes whom he wanted to emulate as an academic clinician-scientist. Tarik says he is indebted to RCSI for the exceptionally strong biomedical foundation it created and for sowing the seeds of curiosity that shaped his subsequent research and innovation career in academic medicine: “This is an enormous and quite unexpected honour from an institution that I vastly cherish, and to which I am indebted for many of my career successes.”

Dr Sorca O’Brien received her medical degree from Queen’s University Belfast in 2010 following completion of an Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in 2004 and a Masters in Physiology in 2006 at University College Dublin. She completed Foundation Training in the NHS before returning to the Irish training system and specialising in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She achieved membership of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland in 2014 and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology UK in 2019. She has recently completed a Masters in Leadership with RCSI Graduate School of Healthcare Management, funded by a scholarship awarded by the 30% Club. Sorca received her Certificate of Completion of Specialist Training from the Royal College of Physicians Ireland and the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She joined Merrion Fertility Clinic as an ASPIRE Fellow in Fertility and is a member of the British Fertility Society. She has a special interest in endometriosis-related subfertility and is particularly passionate about equitable access to fertility care. Her MD research focuses on the integration of assisted reproduction technology into the public hospital system. “The Masters in Leadership has been an excellent springboard for my current clinical role in the ASPIRE Fellowship in Fertility. A major part of the role involves research in development of a novel clinical service. The coverage of innovation, institutional culture and clinical leadership has given me the tools, skills and confidence that are necessary, not only for my current role, but for all future and potential roles ahead. It completely challenged my academic abilities and forced me to take a different approach to higher learning.” Sorca mentions how Dr Margaret Boland, Honorary Senior Lecturer at the Graduate School of Healthcare Management at RCSI, was a central figure in her learning experience. “Dr Margaret Boland, my supervisor and mentor for the thesis process, provided support and encouragement throughout and in a non-directive way managed to guide me to the finish line. She was open and approachable throughout, despite her own professional commitments. She really made herself available to us, above and beyond what might have been expected.” Sorca says she is thrilled and surprised to receive the Rising Star Award. “It honestly feels a bit surreal to be nominated for and be selected to receive such an award. The class was full of amazing scholars. There were so many assignments that were group oriented; other students improved my learning exposure as a result. I feel every one of them deserves an award and I would love to share this with them. The Masters highlighted that the main barriers to achievement in life are the ones we place on ourselves. Those barriers are moveable, with time and effort. Goals are there to be achieved, aspirations are to be realised.”



Positive Global Impact Award

JENNIFER THORNTON-JONES School of Physiotherapy



School of Postgraduate Studies


Jennifer Thornton-Jones is an APTA Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Women’s and Pelvic Health and Oncologic physiotherapy who works at Duke University Health System in Durham, North Carolina. She graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2007 with a BSc in Psychology before a postgraduate BSc in Physiotherapy from RCSI in 2013. “Being exposed to a wide variety of electives and clinical experiences helped me to discover my passion for women’s health early on, and I graduated with a strong desire to specialise in this area of physiotherapy,” says Jennifer. “I looked up to Louise Keating and Dr Helen French, as they both have professional careers which are multifactorial, including elements of travel, research, and business ownership. Maeve Whelan, a guest lecturer, helped to spark my passion for women’s health and pelvic floor rehabilitation and Fiona Campbell, one of my clinical instructors in the fracture clinic at Cork Hospital, was so inspiring.” Jennifer is Co-Director of the Women’s Health Physiotherapy Residency Programme and a Clinician Educator for the Duke DPT programme, assisting with teaching the Women’s Health elective. Her clinical focus is in pelvic floor and core muscle disorders leading to bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunction, pre- and post-natal rehabilitation as well as rehabilitation in patients with breast, gynecological and colorectal cancers. She has helped develop multi-disciplinary clinics within Duke, including the Sexual Health Clinic for Survivors of Women’s Cancers and the Ventral Hernia Repair Clinic. She works on a multi-disciplinary task force focused on improving care, expanding healthcare access, and decreasing maternal morbidity and mortality for birthing at Duke. She is a certified lymphedema therapist and yoga teacher. She serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy. Prior to working at Duke, she worked in Ireland at a number of private practices and at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin and served as the ISCP coordinator for the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon and Dublin Marathon. She is passionate about improving holistic healthcare within the medical system, increasingly focusing on women’s health rehabilitation programme development, quality and patient access, and improving education and advocacy surrounding women’s health needs. “At RCSI, I definitely received great exposure to all areas of physiotherapy, which ultimately helped me determine the right path for myself. There is much more to do to improve recovery for patients after pregnancy and delivery and oncological treatment, and receiving the Positive Global Impact Award is an encouragement to continue to pursue a higher standard of care for patients. It was a big surprise, and a huge honour. Many talented medical professionals have gone through the doors of RCSI, so it is humbling to be recognised among such a group.”

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid holds two of its most senior positions at the University of Dundee – Director of the award-winning Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science and Professor of Forensic Science/Director of Research in the Centre for Anatomy & Human Identification, the world’s leading research centre in forensic science/anthropology. Niamh graduated in 1989 from DIT/TCD with a BSc in Chemistry and Mathematics. She completed her PhD at RCSI in bio-inorganic chemistry under Professor Kevin Nolan in 1993. “Professor Kevin Nolan taught me how to be a research scientist,” she says. “RCSI is a unique and special place because of its size and because of its truly international outlook. It embodies professionalism while embracing equality, diversity and inclusion.” After her PhD, Niamh worked as an environmental consultant before being appointed Lecturer in chemistry at Strathclyde University where she established an international reputation in forensic science/drug research, education and professional development. She was rapidly promoted to Senior Lecturer, then Reader and finally Professor in 2011, the first female professor in natural sciences at Strathclyde in 218 years. Niamh was elected Fellow of the very prestigious Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2016. Niamh has an international reputation in the areas of clandestine drug chemistry, fire investigation and explosives. She has also been involved at the highest level in policy and practice committees in forensic science with the UN, the UK Chartered Society for Forensic Science, INTERPOL and the International Criminal Court. She is a leading proponent of the practice and professionalisation of forensic science in the UK. Niamh runs a large multidisciplinary research group dedicated to drug and forensic science research, working closely with practitioners, including appeal court and supreme court judges, across the criminal justice system. She has supervised over 20 PhD students, published over 132 peer-reviewed research papers, edited six books and made numerous international conference presentations. Recently she co-chaired a landmark meeting at the Royal Society in London and acted as a guest editor for the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions Special Issue. She recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s A Life Scientific. “My work now deals primarily in bringing science and operational practice together to address real world problems of relevance to the investigation of alleged criminal activities. To do that we need a common understanding of what scientific analysis can achieve and where the limitations are. My time at RCSI instilled the need to be able to communicate complex science to audiences from different disciplines so we are all on the same page. I am truly humbled by this award and enormously proud to be selected as an RSCI ambassador.”


Humanitarian & Community Award

Research & Innovation Award

School of Nursing and Midwifery

School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science



Gwen Regan is the HSE Director of Nursing Infection Prevention and Control in Community Healthcare: Quality and Patient Safety. Gwen’s work is focused on supporting healthcare workers to improve the control of healthcare-associated infection and antimicrobial resistance in the community and to bring a more consistent approach to infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship practice across the country. With a wealth of experience in community infection prevention and control, general nursing, primary and community care, nurse practice development and advanced nursing practice, Gwen’s outstanding contribution had a particularly significant impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, where Gwen provided infection prevention and control expertise to the COVID-19 response in Dublin North City and County. When Gwen qualified from the School of Nursing in Beaumont Hospital in 1994, there were very few nursing jobs in Ireland and she worked in London for a few years, obtaining a Diploma in Neuroscience Nursing. On her return, she worked in the Mater Private and St James’s Hospital, studied for a BSc in Management at night, and also worked for a private company as an auditor on clinical trials before being drawn to community nursing. “This year marks my 20th year in the community: I can honestly say it is where I will be for the rest of my career.” She returned as a postgraduate student to RCSI in 2009 while working as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Infection Prevention Control (IPC) in Dublin North City and County just as the H1N1 pandemic began, graduating in 2011 with a postgraduate Diploma in Infection Prevention & Control. “At that time, there were a few IPCNs dotted around the country, all individually doing great work, but very little joined-up work or standard practice. The Diploma was very exciting – at last I was networking with peers with the same interest and passion for the subject. Community IPCNs were still a fairly new development at that time – we challenged our teachers when the focus appeared to lean too much towards the acute setting, but they were open to learning from our experience across services such as mental health, intellectual disabilities, nursing homes and homecare.” Gwen is the first person to hold the role of Director of Nursing Infection Prevention and Control in Community Healthcare: Quality and Patient Safety. “We now have nine highly qualified Assistant Directors of Nursing leading IPC services across each Community Healthcare Organisation. We have also recruited a team of CNSs and CNM2s to support the ADONs IPC, working alongside IPCNs who are sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with newer staff. Many completed their specialist training at RCSI. “Nurses have demonstrated their flexibility, dedication and ability to constantly adapt to evolving evidence and practices. Nurses are senior healthcare leaders and should speak up to improve care for our patients,” says Gwen. “It has been a privilege and joy for me to work across community services over the past 20 years. Receiving this award is an incredible honour, and I am very grateful to the RCSI for choosing me as a recipient.”

Dr Ben Ryan is Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at RCSI and also Head of the Neuropsychoendocrinology Research Group. In 2021 he was appointed as Programme Director of the BSc (Advanced Therapeutic Technologies) degree, which will take its first students in September 2022. His research interests focus on depression with particular emphasis on how endocrinological dysfunction may contribute to treatment-resistant depression. Ben is a Pharmacy graduate of RCSI, and also holds a PhD in Neuropharmacology and a BA (Mod) in Biochemistry from Trinity College Dublin. “When I began my pharmacy degree in 2005, the School of Pharmacy had recently been established. Professor Judith Strawbridge was the Programme Director for the BSc (Pharmacy) programme. Her willingness to consider students as partners in the education process was evident and ahead of its time. Judith set very high academic standards but also focused on the pastoral aspects of a university education. In my new role I hope to emulate Judith, to deliver an exceptional student experience in a supportive and welcoming university environment.” Ben has a student-centric approach to education. “As a student at RCSI, I experienced first hand the positive impact of undertaking a degree programme in a healthcare institution focused on delivering an exceptional student educational experience, preparing us for future professional practice,” he says. Ben established an independent research group in neuropsychopharmacology, which has achieved significant research funding. He has supervised PhD students and Masters students to completion; his students have been very successful in their careers. He has developed collaborations with colleagues within the University and collaborative industry-academic research as well as providing extensive service to the School of Pharmacy through numerous educational leadership roles. Ben’s role as Academic Liaison Officer was also vital in establishing key clinical partnerships to deliver hospital experiential learning for students, summer work experience opportunities and enhanced teaching and research. He credits RCSI with preparing him well for collaboration. “The importance of collaboration, diversity and respect in achieving meaningful work or life-related goals has always resonated with me.” Ben has been an RCSI ambassador at careers fairs, TY MiniMed programmes, Primary Level STEM programmes and open days. Responsible for the design and development of Graduate and Mature Entry open days, he continues to deliver on this important aspect of student recruitment, in keeping with his ethos of wider participation and diversity. At the news of his nomination, Ben said: “RCSI counts among its graduates so many inspiring individuals and to have been chosen as this year’s Awardee is an incredible honour.” ■







have always been immensely grateful to RCSI for the incredible medical education I received there as well as the enduring connections that I made during my student days. The tutelage I received at RCSI was truly the springboard for my career, which has taken me from the Richmond Hospital, to Johns Hopkins, to the University of Pennsylvania. For me, RCSI provided a superb medical education and also inspired a global outlook on life. I have been immensely lucky to teach across the globe, merging my passion for clinical practice, administration and teaching, with the opportunity to experience new places and cultures. Over the years, my fond memories of RCSI have combined with an ever-increasing respect for the College. I remember when the keystone for the ‘new building’ was laid. John McAuliffe Curtin, my uncle, participated as RCSI President, and I still have the ceremonial bricklayer’s hammer. The ambition that I witnessed in the 1970s has continued unabated as the College has evolved and flourished. The singular commitment to excellent medical teaching has been supplemented by new infrastructure, expansion of research opportunities and educational innovation. I am immensely proud of how the College has evolved into the University it is today. These are some of the reasons that I recently made the decision to play some small role in RCSI’s ambitious vision of educating future healthcare leaders for Ireland and across the world. In particular, I wanted to make a contribution to enhance RCSI’s research capabilities as well as to reduce the

Professor David W Kennedy (Class of 1972) and his wife, Professor Elina Toskala Kennedy, and family.

cost of medical education through scholarships. In conversation with Aíne Gibbons and her team, I learned of the additional tax benefits that accrue from ‘giving while living’ and with the support of my wife, Elina and my kids, I made the decision to leave a legacy to RCSI during my lifetime. I was incredibly moved by the University’s decision to acknowledge my legacy by naming a space in my family’s name. I like to think that my grandfather – Doc Kennedy, who also attended RCSI – would be as honoured as I am by this touching gesture. I also like to hope that my kids and future generations will get to appreciate my enduring connection to RCSI for years to come. I am a firm believer in the adage ‘we only go around once’ – we have a limited time in this life and it is important that we make the most of it and leave the world a better place if we can. I wanted to share my story so that others who can benefit from ‘giving while living’ would know that the College acknowledges and celebrates our legacy gifts, so that we can enjoy our giving to RCSI. Professor David W Kennedy, Class of 1972 If you would like further information on legacy giving, please call Aíne Gibbons, Director of Development on +353 (1) 402 5189, or email ainegibbons@rcsi.ie


TEDDY BEAR HOSPITAL Student Amanda Appel met Elaina Clare Abin, 6, one of 350 children who brought their sick or injured teddies to the 8th annual Teddy Bear Hospital at RCSI in April. Hosted by the RCSI Paediatrics Society in aid of Barretstown, the event aimed to alleviate childhood fears about healthcare environments and this year included sessions for children with disabilities or chronic illnesses who visit hospital more regularly.


CHESS INTERVARSITIES RCSI, led by student Alice O’Gorman, hosted the Irish Chess Intervarsity competition in March in the historic surroundings of College Hall. Alice, a champion chess player and Moira O’Brien Sports Scholarship recipient, won the Irish Women’s National Chess Championship in September 2021. The RCSI Chess Society meets on campus every Tuesday.

MATCH DAY Match Day 2022 marked the matching of RCSI graduates to competitive specialties in prestigious institutions across Canada and the US, including the Cleveland Clinic, University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, Harvard University, McMaster University and the University of Toronto.


Happy to return to normal university life and all that entails, RCSI students got stuck in ...

IN THE LAB Ololade Lawal Oluwadele, PhD student, at work in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences research laboratories.

THE CHORAL SOCIETY RCSI was awarded Best Video in this year’s Choral Intervarsities. The virtual Intervarsities were hosted by Glór Choral Society – a weekend of workshops, social events, quizzes and concerts, performances by guest choirs and vocal masterclasses. RCSI’s entry to the competition was a virtual choir performance of “Elijah Rock,” arranged by Roger Emerson.

INTERNATIONAL NIGHT March in Ireland is usually all about St Patrick’s Day and the celebration of all things Irish. But our Students’ Union have turned that tradition on its head with International Night, an annual extravaganza. All seven of the University’s cultural societies competed for the award for Best Overall Performance while highlighting colourful aspects of their cultures.



THE SQUASH CLUB The Squash Club recently took part in Intervarsities hosted by University College Cork and were delighted to bring home the Men’s A Championship for the first time in RCSI history!

THE ROWING CLUB Earlier this year RCSI’s Rowing Club took part in the University Championships for the first time in over 20 years. The club entered 25 rowers and were proud to place fifth.

THE DRAMA SOCIETY RCSI’s Drama Society brought Legally Blonde: The Musical to the stage of the O’Flanagan Lecture Theatre in November 2021. Having rehearsed for many months in preparation for the show, cast and crew delivered a wonderful performance. Drama Soc offers every student the opportunity to take part in some of the most memorable events of the year.

CONSILIO MANUQUE AWARDS In March, students gathered in the Desmond Auditorium to celebrate the annual Consilio Manuque Awards Ceremony, a celebration of achievement across the undergraduate Schools of Medicine, Physiotherapy and Pharmacy & Biomolecular Sciences. Awards include the Consilio Manuque Aim High scholarship (Medicine) and the Kiran Pathak (Pharmacy) scholarship. Riaz Jiffry picked up two awards: first place overall for results achieved in 1st year and the Evatt Memorial Award Ex Aequo, for achieving the best results in Anatomy.

THE COLLEGE BALL 2022 RCSI students are some of the most dedicated in the country, but everyone takes a break from the books for the annual College Ball. After a gap of two years, the ball, organised by the Students’ Union, made a welcome return, with a Great Gatsby-style, Roaring 20s theme. More than 600 students from Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy attended.

THE GP CLUB Medical students and GP Club members Anna Whitaker, Conor Kearns, Kathryn McGarry and Diane Wiehe were among those who coordinated RCSI student volunteering for the GP Vaccination Programme at the Helix Vaccination Centre, Dublin. The GP Club is made up of Medicine students interested in all things General Practice and arranges panel discussions, workshops, educational events and activities for students keen to learn more about general practice in Ireland and worldwide.

GOOD LUCK! Final year Medicine students from the Class of 2022 were photographed during their last week at Beaumont Hospital. We wish them all the very best for the future! ■






In a career that can span 40, even 50 years, a decade can make a difference

30 31 Years



Class of 1991 Consultant in plastics and burns, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon, Edinburgh, Scotland

As Senior Lead Surgeon of the Wallace Burns Unit, oncoplastic breast surgeon and aesthetic surgeon, a typical week involves a full day operating on Monday, either at St John’s Hospital plastic surgery unit, or at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh Breast Unit with alternate Tuesday mornings taken up with private work, while Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons are outpatient clinics and Tuesday evening is a private clinic. Wednesday mornings are for burns trauma operating. I also carry out an adult exceptional referral pathway multidisciplinary team (MDT) on Wednesday lunchtimes, for assessing eligibility for cosmetic procedures to be approved for surgery on the NHS. Thursdays are dedicated to private clinics and surgery; Friday mornings are for NHS operating and the afternoon for teaching. Looking back, what were the best decisions you made? Having opted to follow a career path in the UK after graduating in 1991, getting appointed to a run-through training programme was a challenge. In the 1990s, as an SHO, you were still able to apply for standalone jobs, and so I would apply for a new surgical specialty post every six to twelve months and move hospital. However, despite becoming an experienced and senior SHO in plastic surgery, I found I still wasn’t being shortlisted for registrar interviews. I decided that I needed to do something radical in order to reinvent myself. I applied for a research job in breast cancer genetics (while I was a SHO in plastic surgery in Hull), with the assistance of my consultant at the time Mr Michael Kerin (now Professor of Surgery in Galway). I was offered the job, but was afraid that it was too laboratory-based and initially declined it, but was convinced to rethink my decision. I think this was the best career decision that I ever made, as I gained a MD degree for my work over a period of 18 months, which led to my being shortlisted for every registrar job thereafter, before finally being appointed to a training number in Edinburgh.


What advice would you give your younger self? With hindsight, perhaps I might have gone for a research post sooner in my career, but I would have had a much less diverse journey and gained less experience in other useful surgical subspecialties. Run-through training has changed all that now, and made it easier for trainees to progress through their chosen specialty, although this is at the expense of a breadth of surgical experience.

20 Years



Class of 2002 Health Coaching Manager, MiSalud.ai, Texas, USA

My ambition was always to be a surgeon so I trained in surgery for more than eight years but in 2010, during my surgical fellowship in London, I discovered the little-known field of lifestyle medicine (LM), which aims to prevent and mitigate lifestyle-related chronic diseases through behaviour modification of the individual. Having seen how dramatic surgical interventions failed to address the root causes of underlying disease, LM intrigued me sufficiently to try a radical experiment; leave my surgical training, move with my French wife and infant twins to the US, and start a completely new career path in LM health coaching. I spent two years of intensive, self-directed study to re-skill, devouring all the best courses on LM (from Harvard, Yale, among others), trained as a health coach, and established a virtual, boutique health coaching company (ELITE Personalized Health, LLC). I coach clients and tutor medical students (teaching is another passion of mine). I have recently been enjoying private corporate consulting on the topics of LM, digital health and innovation. As the Health Coaching Program Manager at MiSalud.ai, the only telehealth platform that provides immediate, affordable and private access to Spanish-speaking doctors, I am implementing LM to help the underserved Hispanic population. I work remotely with a close-knit team across time zones, with no more than an hour or two of live meetings each day.


Key challenges of the last decade? Taking a great leap of faith when I voluntarily abandoned my beloved surgery for something completely unknown that simply felt so right. The transition was tough: studying on my own and living off life savings with no certainty of employment in the future. When I started coaching our family of four was living on about a quarter of the income I enjoyed as a bachelor surgical registrar. Learning how to run a business and use digital technology was a challenge yet, remarkably, I never regretted my decision. It always felt right and invigorating and it allowed me to spend so much more quality time with my wife and daughters than surgical training would have allowed. What’s next? I am currently applying my love for teaching by developing the LM training programme for the new health coaches we are hiring. I continue to immerse myself in digital health, artificial intelligence and machine learning because our goal at MiSalud is to put these amazing technologies to use to revolutionise healthcare in the 21st century by better serving our users, and hopefully keep them from ever becoming patients in the first place.





Class of 2014 Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, University of Nevada, Reno, USA As a urogynecologist (a subspecialty of obstetrics and gynaecology), I focus exclusively on the treatment of female pelvic floor disorders, which encompass many common but infrequently discussed conditions that significantly impact women’s quality of life. These include complex disorders such as urinary and bowel incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, childbirth injury, genital fistulas, recurrent urinary tract infection, bladder pain, and sexual dysfunction. I offer patients a wide range of treatment options, from non-invasive conservative therapies to complex reconstructive surgeries, including all-vaginal surgery, laparoscopic and robotic surgery, and neuromodulation. A typical week involves one to two days in the OR performing surgeries, with the remainder of the week seeing patients in my outpatient clinic and teaching medical students. Clinic days are a mix of new consults, follow-up of chronic conditions, and various office-based procedures including urodynamic testing, cystoscopy, bladder Botox, and nerve modulation therapies. Highlights of the last decade? It’s hard to believe that it has already been twelve years since I started as an RCSI GEM! While the last decade has been full of study, exams, hard work and long hours, it has been a fantastic journey. RCSI truly built a foundation for compassionate and sharply observational clinical care, which I carried over into ob/gyn residency training, urogynecology fellowship and current practice. Among the highlights were RCSI weekend trips to Galway, the privilege of a good work/play balance during residency training in NYC and successfully building up a new subspecialty practice from the ground up. Getting married was also a plus. But mostly, the people I’ve met along the way have formed a second family, spread across the globe.

What do you hope the next decade will bring? Professionally, I hope to build and expand the academic programmes at our medical school, including building a new ob/gyn residency programme to serve the Reno-Tahoe region. I also hope to build additional sub-internship opportunities for RCSI students seeking to match in the US/Canada.

26 Years



Class of 1996 Owner, Calderwood Family Clinic, Drumcondra, Dublin, Ireland I qualified as a GP 20 years ago and after working as a GP partner in Dublin for ten years, I set up Calderwood Family Clinic in 2012. I started as a single-handed GP with four staff and within five years we had grown to three GPs, a GP registrar from an RCSI scheme, two nurses, a physiotherapist and four administration staff. I was very lucky to get a lot of help from my husband and practice manager Georgie Sliney McCormack. A typical week consists of three long days and two shorter days. You never know what clinical scenarios are going to walk through your door. We have a mix of GMS and private patients with lots of children and elderly patients. I specialise in women’s health, contraception and menopause consultations, also sports medicine and joint injections. I completed the ICPG diploma in musculoskeletal medicine in 2016, the ICGP menopause certificate in 2018 and am currently doing the new community gynaecology certificate. There have been enormous changes over the last 20 years including IT changes, electronic prescriptions, electronic consultant referrals and the introduction of a formal Chronic Disease Management scheme. We have had great support from the ICGP and IMO with pandemic updates and Chronic Disease Management implementation. I am also a GP trainer on the RCSI scheme so am available for my registrar to ask questions and for a weekly tutorial. I really enjoy this – it’s a great opportunity to reflect on more complex patient cases. Twice a year, a medical student from UCD sits in with me for a week. I have also been an ICGP CME group leader for the past five years. We meet once a month to go through interesting cases and the educational needs of the group. This is a great way to get to know local GPs, and has helped us all to have that support. I may also do a house call, paperwork, results, some telephone consultations and some COVID-19 consultations. I have a great team around me and we all support each other. Being a member of DDOC out-of-hours service for north Dublin has been an enormous help as a GP co-op – we share the burden. I’m married with two teenage girls and two dogs. I love walking the dogs on the beach close to me, going to the gym, yoga and meeting up with friends. Looking back, what were the best decisions you made? One of the best decisions was to set up my own practice. It was very daunting, but professionally very positive. Becoming a GP trainer on the RCSI scheme really enriched my day-to-day work. This group is a great source of knowledge and the collegiality really makes a big difference. What advice would you give your younger self? Change is how we grow professionally and personally – we are capable of more than we think. I would tell my younger self that general practice is about lifelong learning and it keeps it interesting and invigorates us to continue learning.


15 Years



Class of 2007 Thoracic Surgeon, Centennial Hospital, Nashville, USA I specialise in robotic surgery for pulmonary resections, benign and malignant esophageal surgery, thymus gland disorders, and chest wall resection/ reconstruction. As a private practice thoracic surgeon, a typical week involves two days of operative block time and two days of clinic. Additional add-on cases are fitted in where the schedule allows. Key challenges of the last decade? Within the last decade, we have seen a dynamic shift in healthcare from large academic medical centres located within cities, to delivering the same specialised care at community level. Healthcare systems are purchasing small community hospitals to allow for a “hub and spoke” model. This system gives health networks more negotiating power with insurance companies. These networks are utilising specialised physicians to conduct satellite clinics within the community and select procedures. The challenges of such a system centre on monopolising patient care while minimising autonomy of community hospitals. In addition, logistics of satellite clinics, physician coverage and travel of multiple facilities and decentralised specialty care may impact patient care. COVID-19 has had a significant impact; healthcare systems have been exposed, revealing shortages of nurses, operative staff, therapists and ancillary staff as well as supply chains. We are faced by new challenges of conducting and billing for telehealth visits. Lastly, the cost of new innovations, equipment, medications are rising. New medical devices, robotic surgery, and minimally invasive techniques are improving patient care but the cost is rising dramatically. Personalised cancer care with liquid biopsies, molecular tumour sequencing and targeted chemotherapy/immunotherapy all have high costs. The industry will have to decide how to pay for the testing, medications and procedures. What’s next? The future of medicine is exciting, with advancements in all aspects of patient care from the initial visit through diagnosis, treatment and palliation. Utilisation of technology will bring specialised care to more individuals. Blood, urine, and sputum testing for biomarkers may limit more invasive testing for cancers, autoimmune disorders and inflammatory conditions. Advanced imaging techniques will allow for more precise visualisation. New medications will have a targeted approach, limiting side effects and increasing efficacy. Less invasive procedures and expansion of robotic surgery will lead to shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery.

12 Years



Class of 2010 Senior Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, Perth, Australia

I work three days a week as part of a multidisciplinary team at St John of God Hospital Midland, a public hospital


supporting men and women with pelvic floor dysfunction. The other two days I work for a not-for-profit paediatric continence service. Outside of this I have been developing a mobile application that supports women with pelvic floor dysfunction. When I get home, my second work day begins although it doesn’t feel like work at the moment as I am enjoying the new challenge. In my spare time, I love to spend time with friends outdoors enjoying the famous Australian weather and beaches. Highlights of the last decade? The last ten years have been incredible and I don’t think I can list just one highlight! Travelling alone, moving to Australia, living with a close girlfriend who I met at RCSI, the birth of my niece and nephew, completing my masters, meeting my husband, growing our family, starting my business … It has been a great ten years. What do you hope the next decade will bring? I hope to grow the reach of my mobile app and complete research on its efficacy. I am currently in the process of an ethics application. I also hope to grow our family and now that travel has resumed, spend more time with my extended family.

30 Years



Class of 1996 Consultant Urologist, Mater University & St Vincent’s University Hospitals, Dublin, Ireland Following my urological training in Ireland, I completed the Urological Oncology Fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. This is the oldest urology cancer fellowship in the world and it allowed me to work with many of the best surgeons in the world. The main focus was on major cancer surgery for kidney, bladder, prostate and testis cancer. After a short posting in the NHS, I was appointed to a split consultant post, dividing my time equally between the Mater and St Vincent’s. The post was focused on supporting the role of the national Rapid Access Prostate cancer clinics, assessing men at risk of prostate cancer, diagnostic work-up and treatment. So, my week is divided really into four equal parts. Each week, I run a clinic and theatre list in each of my three hospitals (the Mater, St Vincent’s University Hospital, St Vincent’s Private Hospital). I continue to focus my clinical practice on oncology, focusing mostly on prostate and bladder cancer. The Rapid Access Prostate clinics have been a phenomenal success, allowing rapid access to the latest diagnostic tests and treatment. There has been a significant down-staging of prostate cancer as a result, and mortality rates continue to fall. The last part of my week is spent fitting in my research work, mostly on the IPCOR Project and around my role in the NCCP. IPCOR is a major €1.75m project funded initially by the Irish Cancer Society and Movember to establish a national prostate cancer registry. We are now progressing IPCOR 2.0, which will allow Ireland to become part of a global prostate cancer registry and world leaders in outcomes research, value-based healthcare and patient-centred research. Looking back, what were the best decisions you made? Having as full a college experience as possible is important. I certainly had a fantastic time in college, but I’m sure I left many opportunities behind me.


Undoubtedly, my decisions to do surgery and subsequently urology were my biggest decisions, and the ones I am most happy about. I always enjoyed surgery and was attracted to it towards the end of my time in college. I had amazing mentors who supported my early development, Mr Broe, Mr Hickey and Mr Murphy in Beaumont were central to my and so many other careers in surgery. Finding a good support structure, and approachable mentors who successfully guide you through the choppy waters of surgical training is crucial. With the benefit of hindsight, what advice would you give your younger self? I think as a student or a trainee you are in a unique position that is lost as your career progresses. All consultants are approachable and willing to help, especially in supporting careers. Don’t be afraid to ask. Spending your time on a summer elective is a great way of getting to know a service and specialty. I didn’t do one, but wished I had. Getting involved in research projects as a student lets others know you are a serious contender, and is always an impressive line on any CV.

30 Years




Mr David Galvin (Class of 1996)

10 Years



Class of 1990 Medical Director, The Mayer Institute, Ontario, Canada

Class of 2012 Assistant Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA

The Mayer Institute (TMI) is a centre of excellence dedicated to the treatment of diabetic foot, located in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. I began as a family physician in Kingston, Ontario, practising there for twelve years before giving up family practice and moving to Hamilton to focus on the treatment of the diabetic foot. I formed TMI in 2006 and since then, we have been busy trying to save the limbs of people with diabetic wounds. I work five days a week, seeing patients on four days with one day for administration and business. My day typically starts at 5:30am and ends at about 7pm. We see 65-75 patients a day with 80% being wound patients, the other 20% attending for preventative care. As an advanced diabetic wound centre, we treat high-risk diabetic patients with active wounds. We are fully involved in the management of diabetic wounds, with surgical debridement and the necessary operative procedures, such as tendon releases, toe amputations, ray re-sections and forefoot amputations done in our outpatient setting. We have attempted to replicate the pioneering Wide-Awake Hand Surgery of Canadian plastic surgeon, Dr Donald Lalonde, with our version of Wide-Awake Wound Surgery. Best decision you made? The best decision I made was to leave home in Kingston, give up my family practice and move to Hamilton to follow my wife [Professor Karen Choong, see page 22] so she could embrace her passion of pediatric intensive care. I have only good things to say about the specialty of diabetic wound care. The practice has managed to combine the beauty of family medicine and relationship building, with an aggressive, evidence-based practice that is challenging both from a medical perspective, with active diabetic management being at the forefront, and exciting, high-stakes wound work that brings incredible gratification when one is successful. Despite the heartache of limb loss and death among our patients, I am still enamoured with the specialty, 30 years on.

I am a gastroenterology/transplant hepatology attending physician and a clinician educator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. My clinical expertise is in liver disease and I manage patients with chronic liver disease and patients who have had a liver transplant. In addition, I am involved in training gastroenterology and hepatology fellows at Johns Hopkins. Approximately one week a month, I am the attending physician on the Mary Elizabeth Garrett liver service and see patients at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. The rest of the weeks, I have outpatient clinic at two different locations, perform endoscopies, participate in liver transplant meetings and attend various clinical conferences. I am board certified in internal medicine, gastroenterology and transplant hepatology. Highlights of the last decade? Professionally, the highlight of the last decade has been training at some of the best hospitals in the world and starting my career at the Johns Hopkins University. I have been fortunate enough to be involved in medical education at every level of training, from medical students to gastroenterology and hepatology fellows and have had the opportunity to mentor some exceptional physicians. Personally, the highlight of the last decade was meeting my wonderful wife, Dr Shruti Chaturvedi, during my internal medicine residency at the Cleveland Clinic, and having our daughter, Diya, in June 2021. What do you hope the next decade will bring? In the next decade, I would love to see advances in manufacturing artificial organs for transplantation. I wish for the scientific collaboration, and the rapid advances in medicine seen during the pandemic, to continue. I hope these developments will contribute in a positive way to the outcomes of patients with many other diseases.



14 Years



Class of 2008 Instructor of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA After completing an internship with Mr Moran and Mr Osborne and Drs Grogan and Breathnach and a six-month SHO rotation with Professor Hill at Beaumont Hospital from 2008-2010, it was time to relocate close to family in the US. I am currently an assistant professor in hematology and oncology at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. I work at their two sites, in Washington DC and Maryland. I am currently working as a clinician with an interest in translational research. I focus on hematologic malignancies and benign hematology. A typical week is pretty high-tempo: a daily morning latte is followed by rounds in the hospital, then an afternoon clinic. In order to keep myself mentally and physically balanced and healthy, I usually pop into an evening Pilates class or go for an evening run a few times a week. Key challenges of the last decade? The key challenges include trying to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The socio-economic barriers faced by physicians to provide optimal care to under-served regions, and navigating bureaucratic healthcare systems are challenging and I can’t talk about challenges without mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented tremendous challenges involving patient care. Witnessing the emotional and social isolation that the pandemic forced upon patients and families was heavy. What’s next? Professionally, I have a few lymphoma-focused clinical trials in the pipeline. Personally, I am looking forward to getting back to my favorite hobby, equestrianism.


30 Years



Class of 1991 Pediatric Intensivist, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

As a clinician-scientist my week is split between research and clinical responsibilities. My clinical work is as a pediatric intensivist in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the McMaster Children’s Hospital, a tertiary care academic hospital. A typical clinical service week involves the care of critically ill children with a broad range of medicalsurgical conditions, managing pediatric trauma, and running a pediatric ICU transport team service for our provincial region. These weeks are busy with a heavy call burden of sleepless nights. My research is focused on ICU-based rehabilitation and patient-centred outcomes. We pioneered PICU Liber8, an innovative, evidence-based rehabilitation bundle of care designed to reduce morbidity and improve functional outcomes in critically ill children. I currently lead multiple research projects including studies evaluating longterm outcomes following COVID-19, chronic critical illness, PICU delirium, septic shock interventions. I love the diversity of cases, the team dynamic and the excitement of the PICU. One must not only have expertise in critical care, but also in difficult conversations, end-of-life care and bioethics. I love practicing in the ICU despite and perhaps because of the demands of this subspecialty; it is high acuity and high reward and despite the workload and sleep deprivation, I wouldn’t do anything different. Best decision you made? Perry [Dr Mayer, see page 21] and I first wrote our responses independently and when we read them together we realised that we had essentially written about the same things so I thought I’d share our combined response: The best decision we both made was to go to Ireland for our education. The medical training we received at RCSI was second to none and moulded us into the clinicians that we are today. We are grateful for how well we were taught; we have the highest respect for the art of presentation and emphasis on clinical acumen, and we endeavour to practice with the same disciplined approach that was deeply engrained in us by our RCSI professors more than 30 years ago. Attending RCSI allowed us to find love – for each other, for Rice’s, for the beer-stained ceiling of The Swan, and Sean’s concern that we had no homes to go to, for intervarsities, for class trips, for Alan Johnson, and for the treasured friendships made that remain strong till this day. What advice would you give your younger self? This is the advice we give to our own kids: work hard, play hard. Believe in yourself as you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Make time and protect your time. Enjoy life, do the things you love with the people that you love, and look after yourself. I would advise Perry’s younger (and current) self to learn how to cook, so he can feed his wife on her long weeks on service. Perry would advise his younger self to invest in land. We work hard and are proud of our achievements. We are eager to share what we’ve learned with others. With the benefit of hindsight, we wouldn’t change a single thing. We would do it all over again, especially our life at RCSI. ■




RCSI has been named University of the Year for Student Engagement in the new edition of The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022. The award recognises RCSI’s top performance among higher education institutions in Ireland across the measures where data is available for student engagement. RCSI won the inaugural award primarily for its efforts to negate the impact of the pandemic on students. Initiatives to support students included the University’s simulation facilities being deployed to mimic a clinical setting


RCSI Bahrain has launched its Student Engagement and Partnership (StEP) programme. Co-developed by RCSI Bahrain students and staff, the programme aims to promote and implement a culture of partnership and inclusivity, where the expertise and perspectives of both staff and students are equally valued. The StEP programme is scaffolded around a framework of four domains: StEP in Institutional Management; StEP in the Academic Research Community; StEP in the Local Community and the Social Environment and StEP in Teaching and Assessment. Under each domain, key partnership projects will be led by students and staff who will work together to enhance student participation and enrich their journey. The StEP programme has more than 30 staff and students working on 17 different projects across the four domains. President of RCSI Bahrain, Professor Sameer Otoom commented: “RCSI Bahrain acknowledges the importance of student and staff collaboration to enhance the delivery of our educational programmes and our student support systems, improving our students’ overall experience and preparing them to become future leaders in healthcare.”

when access to ‘live’ clinical sites was restricted. A satellite campus was established at Croke Park to accommodate 650 students, ensuring essential face-to-face interaction required for training health professionals continued within a hybrid model of teaching. To connect students with each other, learning community ‘bubbles’ were established in consultation with the students union and class representatives. These allowed for small group teaching and safe lab access. To protect students, an on-campus RCSI screening centre was set up along with pop-up centres at teaching hospitals where over 9,000 swab tests were carried out in the first twelve months of the pandemic. Many students volunteered in intensive care units or became contract tracers. Examinations were brought forward by seven weeks in 2020 to allow early graduation for the University’s 300-plus medical students. Alastair McCall, editor of The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “The shadow campus at Croke Park was typical of the vision RCSI brought to bear on the pandemic, allowing students to study in as normal conditions as possible, while the opportunities to volunteer on the frontline both prevented student isolation and helped them engage directly with the pandemic through their chosen profession. This was higher education at its very best – of benefit to society and students alike.”

RCSI Results Day

The final results of over 300 medical students at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences were delivered in a live reading on 17 May. In a tradition that has been running for more than 60 years, the final year results were read out from the stairs at the RCSI campus at St Stephen’s Green. Students gathered in person and via livestream to hear their results and celebrate as they embark on Fatemah Alshammari, Bibi Alsahaf their new career as doctors. The students were and Ayat Abul on Results Day. congratulated by Professor Hannah McGee, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Professor Arnold Hill, Head of the RCSI School of Medicine, and RCSI Vice Chancellor and CEO, Professor Cathal Kelly.


More than 770 students took part in White Coat Ceremonies in March. Students were invited by Professor P Ronan O’Connell, RCSI President, to make a commitment to professionalism that mirrors the graduates’ declaration recited at their conferring day. The declaration signals the responsibilities they must begin to undertake as future health professionals from the start of their academic training.

Daragh Browne and Jade Sleator



RCSI has been ranked among the top 250 universities worldwide, for the sixth consecutive year, in the 2022 Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings. RCSI has maintained its worldwide position in the #201-250 category and ranks joint second out of the nine ranked institutions in the Republic of Ireland. The THE World University Rankings 2022 includes 1,662 universities across 99 countries and regions. RCSI’s global focus and collaboration is also recognised in this year’s league table with the

University rising to 45th in the world in the “International Outlook” category. The result follows on from RCSI’s strong performance in the THE Impact Rankings published in April this year. This saw the University ranked joint second in the world for its contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Goal 3 “Good Health and Wellbeing”. Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI Vice Chancellor and CEO, praised the commitment and innovation of students, faculty, researchers and professional staff who have continued to conduct world-class research and deliver an engaging academic experience despite the immense challenges of the pandemic. “RCSI’s particularly strong performance in the research elements of the league table is also evidence of our continued emphasis on the patient-focused research of our academics, clinicians and educators and of our growing reputation for impact in the field of human health.”

NEW UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAMME TO RESPOND TO GLOBAL HEALTHCARE CHALLENGES A new undergraduate programme in Advanced Therapeutic Technologies will increase the employability of graduates by equipping them with the technical knowledge, skills and competencies required to become global leaders in healthcare innovation and technology in the biopharmaceutical and related industries. T h e BS c i n A d v a n c e d T h e r a p e u t i c Technologies, which will commence in September 2022, is an innovative four-year programme designed for students to develop extensive, future-focused scientific knowledge, technical skills and transversal competencies. The programme development has been funded by a recent €7.8m grant from the Higher


Education Authority Human Capital Initiative to RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, to expand the School’s focus on emerging and future pharma technologies. The programme has been designed, said Dr Ben Ryan, Programme Director “to develop science innovators fit to tackle the most pressing healthcare-related scientific challenges of our time. This programme aims to train the global biopharma industry leaders of the future.” The programme includes an eight-month work placement in Year 3, either in Ireland or overseas. Applications for the programme can be made through the normal CAO process.


A new postgraduate programme in precision medicine, the MSc in Technologies and Analytics in Precision Medicine, has been developed as part of the recent €7.8m grant awarded from the Higher Education Authority Human Capital Initiative to RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, to expand the School’s focus on emerging and future pharma technologies. The programme is being developed collaboratively with leading national and multinational bio-pharma companies as well as other enterprise partners, with expertise across a broad range of innovative healthcare technologies, including personalised medicine, genomics, machine learning, big data and data analytics and connected health. “The life sciences sectors is experiencing an evolution in health and healthcare,” said Professor Tracy Robson, Head of RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, “characterised by the fusion of the digital, biological and physical worlds. Ireland has the opportunity to position itself at the forefront of a new wave of therapeutic technologies through the availability of an educated workforce.” Deputy Head of RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Professor Brian Kirby, added: “This programme will have a dual focus, developing technological capabilities and transversal skills including teamwork, communication, innovation and leadership. This combination of skillsets will aim to drive creativity and flexibility in a modern workforce.” The first intake of students began in September 2021. A flexible programme gives students the option of one year full-time or two years parttime and is delivered through blended learning, with online and face-to-face lectures.



Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus

During a keynote address at The Times Higher Education (THE) University Impact Forum: Health and Wellbeing, in partnership with RCSI, World Health Organization Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed the importance of vaccine equity, as the delta variant of the coronavirus surged among unvaccinated populations. Over two days in July 2021, the forum brought together thought leaders and experts from higher education to share research, ideas and solutions that address the global health conditions and diseases that impact human outcomes around the world. Dr Tedros said: “Vaccine nationalism, where a handful of nations have taken the lion’s share, is morally indefensible and an ineffective public health strategy.” Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, also called for better action by governments, urging countries to support COVAX and the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator so that all countries can get the diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines they need. Dr Ryan said: “We have a two-tier pandemic and it is having real consequences for people.” Professor Hannah McGee, RCSI Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said that research on the pandemic must prioritise human and political behaviour: “We need to get much better at understanding what it is that countries who have fared better in this pandemic are doing. Basic individual behaviours make a difference, and basic political decisions make enormous differences.” The event included masterclasses on post-pandemic health and wellbeing. The forum addressed the role that universities can and should play in promoting sustainability and development to advance health and equity post-pandemic.

An Honorary Fellowship for Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

In June 2021, Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan received an Honorary Fellowship from RCSI, in recognition of his outstanding leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health, Dr Holohan led the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in providing national direction and expert advice on the development and implementation of Ireland’s response to the pandemic. RCSI President, Professor P Ronan O’Connell, said: “Dr Holohan’s contribution to Irish healthcare long predates the pandemic, yet this will be his legacy,” while Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI Vice Chancellor and

CAE Healthcare and RCSI forge collaborative partnership

CAE Healthcare and RCSI have forged a collaboration to advance healthcare education, technology and research through simulation. CAE, a healthcare training company, also designated the RCSI SIM Centre for Simulation Education and Research a certified Centre of Excellence, the first of its kind in Europe. This partnership gives RCSI trainees, students and partners access to CAE healthcare simulation technology, some of the most advanced in the world. RCSI’s award-winning simulation centre contains many elements of a real hospital setting, including inpatient rooms, outpatient clinical settings, a birthing suite and a full operating theatre, as well as an emergency and trauma facility where students acquire skills in safe learning environments, developing key skills before engaging with real patients in hospital settings. RCSI SIM incorporates the National Surgical and Clinical Skills Centre, where professionals and trainees can develop essential skills and collaborative approaches to team-based care before working with real patients. “This collaboration reinforces the commitment we share with RCSI SIM to develop new, evidence-based practices and training technologies for tomorrow’s clinicians,” said Heidi Wood, President of CAE Healthcare. “As the first CAE Centre of Excellence in Europe, RCSI SIM has a valuable role in joining with us to advocate for simulation-based education and its ability to advance healthcare and ensure patient safety.” Professor Walter Eppich, RCSI Chair of Simulation, said: “Through collaborative research with CAE Healthcare, we look forward to improving patient safety and outcomes through healthcare simulation, education and applied research.” RCSI SIM uses highly immersive simulation modalities, including highfidelity patient simulators that represent complex critical illness and enable integration of team and procedural skill training in a variety of fields: emergency medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, neurology, anesthesia, nursing and other clinical specialties. An integrated audiovisual and centre management system connects RCSI SIM’s simulationbased learning environments with performance assessment tools. This system, CAE LearningSpace, enables recording of simulation activities, including live streaming of training, and affords the opportunity for video review and reflection on individual and team performance. CEO, said, “Under Dr Holohan’s stewardship, early and decisive action was taken, putting Ireland in a stronger position to manage the first wave of the virus than our neighbours to the east and the west. Since then, as we have moved through three waves, Dr Holohan has been steadfast and consistent in putting the health of Irish people first.”



Professor Zena Moore


Professor Zena Moore, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery and Director of the Skin Wounds and Trauma Reseach Centre, received a Life Achievement Award from the World Union of Wound Healing Societies in March 2022. Founded in Australia in 2000, the World Union of Wound Healing Societies is the premier wound care professional association. The award recognises the contribution of Professor Moore to the advancement of wound care. A registered nurse with a PhD and an MSc in Wound Healing and Tissue Repair, Professor Moore is the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel Chair of the International Guideline Governance Group. Professor Moore has published over 276 articles, guidelines, consensus documents and book chapters on the area of wound healing and tissue repair. The Skin Wounds and Trauma (SWaT) Research Centre is leading cutting-edge research in the field of wound healing and tissue repair, with a specific emphasis on pressure ulcer prevention and management. The Centre aims to translate evidence into contemporary clinical decision-making, and to provide a platform for outcome-focused healthcare practice.


RCSI has published a three-year Race Equality Action Plan outlining the steps the University will take to improve the representation, progression and success of students, trainees and staff from minority groups at RCSI. The first to be published by a university in Ireland, RCSI’s Race Equality Action Plan reinforces its commitment to ensuring that the experience of students, trainees and staff is defined by


The sod has been turned on a new €22m Education and Research Centre at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin which will be completed by February 2024. The centre will join the Smurfit Building Education and Research Centre at Beaumont Hospital as RCSI’s second clinical centre of academic excellence in Ireland. Connolly Hospital is an integral part of the RCSI campus and this future-focused development RCSI President, Professor Ronan O’Connell, reflects the University’s commitment to the hospital Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and RCSI Students’ and the broader RCSI Hospital Group. It will greatly Union President, Jyoti Dhawan enhance the student experience for the Graduate Entry Medicine students based at Connolly and for other RCSI students on clinical placement at the hospital and will provide increased capacity for RCSI’s translational research. It will include a new paediatric allergy research centre alongside the recently opened CHI Ambulatory Paediatric Facility. The building has been designed by McCauley Daye O’Connell using the Energy Efficient Design approach to meet the highest standards in energy efficiency, with electricity production on site, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, use of heat pumps, natural ventilation and use of the most highly energyefficient building materials available.


The 29th Carmichael Lecture (named after former President of RCSI, Richard Carmichael) was delivered in February by Ms Amina J Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. Delegates gathered both in person at RCSI and online for the prestigious address. As part of the day’s proceedings, Ms Mohammed was also awarded an Honorary Fellowship, the College’s highest distinction. Ms Mohammed spoke about ‘Transforming Education to Transform our World by 2030’, recognising the many challenges currently being faced across the globe, particularly climate change and educational inequalities: “The time is right

respect, equality and inclusion. The action plan includes the introduction of the Speak Out Tool which allows both staff and students to report incidences of racism, harassment or discrimination, through a new national online system, with signposting to areas of support. Other actions include a review of the healthcare curriculum to ensure greater representation of people of colour in teaching materials. This includes developing imagery of various illnesses which can

for a massive transformation, a rebirth of education worldwide, that will in turn transform the world, but no single country has the knowledge or research capacity to advance this alone. The global pandemic has taught us that. It’s taught us that we needed solidarity and a global response but it has laid bare the reality that, when we needed it most, we didn’t get it.”

Ms Amina Mohammed

present differently, according to skin tone, and also greater diversity in the simulated patients that healthcare students experience in their training. The Race Equality Action Plan complements t he Universit y’s existing Internationa l Citizenship Programme which is run annually to encourage students to reflect on and develop the skills, values and attitudes they will need to work effectively in a culturally diverse healthcare environment.



Domino Whisker has been announced as the winner of the 2021 RCSI Art Award. The prize was awarded to the artist for her work entitled ‘The Birds and I’. Domino Whisker is a contemporary visual artist. Her first solo show ‘Remnants’ at the Atelier Now Gallery explored what is left behind after experiencing great loss – moments, memories, tangled threads of what was before. These works are the result of her piecing together fragments to make something whole again, for the sake of self-preservation. The installation was selected from more than 320 works on display at the 191st RHA Annual Exhibition by artists working in paint,

RCSI Director of Development, Aíne Gibbons with artist Domino Whisker

sculpture, drawing, print, photography and architecture. The other shortlisted artists were James English RHA, Martin Gale RHA

A new painting by Colin Martin RHA, winner of the 2020 RCSI Art Award, in association with The Irish Times and the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Annual Exhibition, has been officially unveiled at RCSI. The artwork, ‘Laboratory’, was commissioned by RCSI and created by Martin in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It depicts the surgical and clinical training laboratory in the National Surgical and Clinical Skills Centre. Martin’s practice is situated in portraiture, still life, the interior and history painting, viewed through the prism of the technological age.


RCSI has won the Best Green Campus Award at the annual Education Awards, which took place in April 2022. The Education Awards recognise, encourage, and celebrate excellence in the third-level education sector on the island of Ireland from both State and privately funded institutions. The award was made to RCSI in recognition of its strong commitment to making a positive environmental impact and contributing to a sustainable future. The award recognises the

Colin Martin, RHA

commitment of RCSI’s team to sustainability and its commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. RCSI’s Green Campus committee, made up of volunteer staff members and students, ensures the sustainable use of resources across campuses, researches environmental issues through its academic departments and educates its students on environmental responsibility. To date, the committee has introduced a variety of initiatives across the areas of biodiversity, waste management, and energy efficiency that have succeeded in reducing gas consumption by 40%, improving energy efficiency by 38%, significantly reducing the use of reusable coffee cups and successfully using harvested rainwater in toilets. The opening of a 12,000 square metre sustainable building in York Street achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Gold accreditation for its best-in-class sustainable practices. RCSI currently

and Vera Klute ARHA. Professor Cathal Kelly, RCSI Vice Chancellor and CEO said: “The annual RCSI Art Award is a celebration of the common heritage of the RCSI and RHA and the longstanding association between art, medicine and wellbeing. We are delighted to present the sixth annual prize to Domino Whisker, an artist of exceptional talent.” Whisker was awarded the €5,000 prize and the RCSI silver medal and will be invited to submit a proposal for a new work for 118 St Stephen’s Green, RCSI’s new ten-storey facility focused on the University’s important role in Ireland’s health agenda and global wellness initiatives.

‘Laboratory’ by Colin Martin

has two building designs like this at planning stage and aims to achieve LEED Platinum and Gold accreditation for both on completion, by 2025. Other initiatives include the planting of native trees, installation of boxes for birds and a wild flower meadow at its campus in north Dublin, and employing the Reduce, Recycle, Recover waste system in its waste and resource management in line with EU best practice. All general waste is sent to the Waste to Energy Plant in Dublin where it is transferred into renewable energy to support the generation of electricity for over 100,000 homes. As well as the focused implementation of energy efficiency measures through capital projects and planned preventative maintenance, water consumption has been minimised in all campus buildings and student accommodation. RCSI has also leveraged the use of technology to enhance awareness of environmental issues amongst staff, students, alumni and visitors. ■





RCSI has become a sibling tradition in many families, as multiple family members seek the same memorable student experience


nyone who has ever spent time at RCSI will know that the University has educated many generations of the same families. It’s a tradition that continues to this day in RCSI’s campuses in Ireland, Bahrain and Malaysia, with children following not just in the footsteps of their parents – many of whom first met at RCSI – but their siblings too.


“I attended RCSI first and can say, without any hesitation, that it was the best time of my life,” says Dr Chandhu Paka (pictured above). “I absolutely influenced Pavan to come to RCSI!” Chandhu, a double fellowship-trained gynaecological surgeon, lives in New York and works at Mount Sinai West, while her younger brother, Dr Pavan Paka, is a graduating IM resident at Mount Sinai West/Morningside and will be starting his fellowship at Columbia in July. Even though the siblings’ time at RCSI did not overlap, Chandhu says she cherishes having had the opportunity to relive so many RCSI moments through Pavan’s eyes. “What an amazing thing to be able to listen to him recount his stories years after I graduated,” she says. “There were so many traditions that remained the same, but also so many new and exciting things happening. One of the best things about RCSI is that we are grounded in a rich tradition but are strongly progressive. As a family, I can say that Pavan’s grad week was the absolute best time. We had so much fun. Individually, we have countless memories of our time at RCSI. To top it off, we both made lifelong friendships. I am looking forward to coming back to Dublin this summer for the Alumni Gathering.”


Dr Sam Rai is currently completing a robotic urologic oncology fellowship at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, under the tutelage of Dr James Porter, having graduated from a urologic surgery residency at University of Louisville, Kentucky. His sister, Dr Aayushi Rai is currently completing her neuroradiology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, having graduated from a diagnostic radiology residency at Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts. Sam was the first of the siblings to attend RCSI. “I was extremely happy with the medical education I received, and particularly enjoyed the collegiality I experienced thanks to the diverse student population,” he says. “There were multiple opportunities for personal and professional development.” Sam’s positive experience meant that when it was time for Aayushi to apply to medical school, she had no hesitation in putting RCSI at the top of her list. “Our time at RCSI overlapped for three years, from 2011-2014,” she explains. “We were able to support each other through the ups and downs of medical school and life abroad. Having an older sibling who had gone through the same medical school courses was a great resource for me, and Sam helped guide me through my studies. He taught me how to focus on the important subject areas and use the right tools and resources.” The two excelled at their studies, with Sam receiving the Ellen Moorhouse Medal in Microbiology (second place) in 2013 and Aayushi receiving the Kane Medal in Neurobiology in 2013. “While at RCSI, we were both extremely socially active,” says Aayushi. “We both had a strong circle of friends and often spent time in groups which included people from both Sam’s and my class. We have many great memories of our time together at RCSI. Events such as the Chocolate Ball and College Ball were very special. We loved the International Nights, and remember the meet-ups in The Swan Bar after anatomy card signings, studying in the library, celebrating the end of year summer exams in St Stephen’s Green, ballad nights during Freshers’ Week, and attending each other’s graduation balls. We had an incredibly memorable time at RCSI, and we often reminisce about it very fondly. “While in the US, we have tried to attend RCSI-hosted events, including the annual alumni event in Boston, a great way to stay in touch with RCSI alumni from across the country. We have also tried to support and mentor current and past RCSI students in obtaining research and residency positions in the US. “We are both pursuing careers in academic medicine in the US, and hope to continue to collaborate with RCSI in developing and expanding opportunities for cross-continent professional development, research and mentorship. We are incredibly grateful to RCSI for the opportunities it has afforded us, from jumpstarting our careers to the support that it continues to provide.”



The Broe siblings – whose father is former President of RCSI, Professor Patrick Broe – may hold the record for the highest number of siblings to have graduated from the University. The first sibling to attend RCSI was David, who enrolled in 1996. He is currently an orthopaedic surgeon at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick, Sydney, where he has specialised in hip and knee joint replacement surgery and sports/reconstruction of the knee joint for the past ten years. “I graduated from RCSI in 2002,” says David. “So it’s my 20-year reunion this year. My wife, Dr Amanda Stephen, who is originally from Sydney, and I were in the same class. We have three children, Phoebe, Lily and Paddy (Jnr) who was named after my father. My father has been the greatest surgical influence in my life followed by my two great mentors, Dr Michael Solomon in Sydney and Mr Ray Moran in Dublin. I completed a knee fellowship with Ray back in Dublin in 2012.” David says both his parents (his mother, Dr Elizabeth Broe, is an anaesthetist and GP) have had a huge influence on their children’s career choices, and has no doubt that the positive experience he had at RCSI influenced his younger siblings’ decisions to follow in his footsteps. “I had a fantastic year in RCSI,” he says. “We had a very close relationship with the year ahead of us, the Class of 2001. We may be scattered all over the world but remain in regular contact. I look forward to seeing many of them at the Alumni Gathering in August.” Next after David came Claire, a decade later, commencing her medical studies in 2006. Their brother Mark joined the graduate entry programme a year later, the same year Rachel commenced postgraduate physiotherapy. Claire is currently a locum staff anesthesiologist in Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, Canada working with Vancouver Coastal Health. “I was influenced to go to RCSI,” says Claire, “because I met so many people in my brother David’s class and witnessed the strong friendships he made during that time, many of which endure to this day. I worked alongside many of them during my anaesthesia training in Ireland and still consider them as extended family. Their graduation party in our back garden when I was 15 was a wonderful night that I still remember well. “My favourite memory of RCSI with my siblings was my graduation week in 2011, as Rachel and Mark made the whole experience so much more fun than I could have imagined! Being in university at the same time also allowed us to become really good friends and closer than ever. We also gained two sisters from the RCSI alumni family as Mark and David met their wives, Lorna Keenan and Amanda Stephen, as medical students.”

Mark Broe is currently on fellowship in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in the field of robotic urology. He will be taking up a position as a consultant urologist with specialist interest in pelvic uro-oncology in Beaumont Hospital later in the year. “Once I decided to do Graduate Entry Medicine then the fantastic experience David had in RCSI made it my first choice,” says Mark. “I did not overlap with him in RCSI but attended numerous RCSI social and sporting events with him over the years. I got to know his classmates well and it has been really nice to cross paths with them throughout my own training in Ireland. “Hopefully Claire enjoyed having her older brother in the year behind her ar RCSI and I didn’t cramp her style! I got on well with her friends and vice versa. We had plenty of great nights out together, with our youngest sister Rachel joining us for some of them too. Both our graduation weeks in 2011 and 2012 respectively were particularly enjoyable. RCSI put a special effort into the celebrations and it was great fun sharing them with family and friends two years in a row. My wife Lorna Keenan and I had our second ‘RCSI alliance’ baby, Maeve, earlier this year in Sydney and we look forward to returning to Ireland this year.” Rachel Broe, the youngest in the family, is Senior Physiotherapist at SSC Sports Medicine, Santry, Dublin. Like Claire and Mark she cherishes the fact that overlapping with each other at RCSI gave her the opportunity to broaden her friendships and get to know her siblings’ classmates as well as her own. For Rachel, the celebrations around graduation are a lasting memory. “RCSI made that time very special for all of us,” she says. “We have had a fantastic education and life experience at RCSI that have set us up for successful medical careers,” says David.

DR RAND ABDULRAHMAN (RCSI BAHRAIN, CLASS OF 2020), DR MAAN ABDULRAHMAN (RCSI BAHRAIN, CLASS OF 2020) Both Abdulrahman siblings are RCSI staff; Rand as Clinical Educator for the Department of Surgery, Maan as Clinical Researcher for the School of Research and Postgraduate Studies. “We’re both very lucky to call ourselves RCSI staff ! We attended RCSI in the same year and spent projects, subgroups and rotations trying to avoid each other. We even graduated with sequential class rankings! It meant someone of similar mindset and goals was there to share ideas and give constructive criticism. It also meant spending too much time together and almost killing each other during stressful rotations. RCSI was a great experience, a very nurturing environment. We watched each other overcome struggles and succeed individually. Our favourite moment was during our White Coat Ceremony in 2017. We were sitting in the same row and only realised we had shared our secret handshake when the video came out – it’s still on YouTube! We feel we’re very fortunate to have made this journey together.” ■




Healthcare is a big contributor to global warming, and climate change has significant health risks. RCSI alumni and staff tell us about the threat to human health, and steps that must be taken to avert further impact

his year, on World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) shone a spotlight on the health of the planet and how it’s connected to human health. The WHO’s message was clear: our global population depends on biodiversity and the ecosystem for resources such as clean air and water, food and shelter. All of these come from the planet, and if we keep destroying and polluting the way we do, our health will be at risk. Health risks associated with climate change include allergies, asthma and respiratory problems linked to air pollution; heat exposure, heatstroke and the increased incidence of mosquito and tick-borne diseases resulting from higher temperatures; and threats to cardiovascular and mental health. The pandemic has reminded us of the interconnection between animal, human and planetary health. If aggressive deforestation and the wanton use of fertilisers and pesticides continue, we will be creating an environment in which the barrier of protection between animal and human health will disappear, and we will be much more vulnerable to the emergence of new viruses and zoonotic diseases. One of the shocking figures cited by the WHO is that each year there are 13 million premature deaths linked to environmental risk factors including climate change. Seven million of those – that’s 13 people every minute – die from diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease and stroke linked to toxic air, with pollution coming from the combustion of fossil fuels and burning of biomass. Rising temperatures and floods caused by climate change put two billion people around the world at risk of dengue fever, and two billion people lack safe drinking water, causing 829,000 people to die from diarrhoea every year. The WHO says the transition to clean, renewable and affordable sources of energy has to happen quickly. Cities, currently designed around cars, must become liveable in terms of active transport in order to tackle noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, and there needs to be an increased focus on sustainable food systems, so we stop polluting our rivers and oceans via the way we produce food. The WHO’s view is that this is all possible if the right political choices are made and we come together to support those who stand for the healthy choices and balance out the lobbying from those who seek to perpetuate the unhealthy choices for the planet that have got us into this situation. The warnings from the WHO are stark, and there is an urgent need to reboot our societies to create better wellbeing. But in the face of fake news, attacks on science, and economies that need to be reimagined post pandemic, it can be hard for doctors as individuals to know how they can play their part. One RCSI alumna who has tackled the issue of air pollution head on in her constituency of Klottey-Korle in Accra is Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings (Class


of 2003) who practised as a GP in Ireland for ten years before returning home to Ghana where she has been a member of the national parliament since 2017. In 2019 she spearheaded a project at the Osu night market in Accra. The longestablished market serves fish and meat alongside popular dishes such as kenkey, rice, kelewele, fried yam, fufu, as well Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings (Class of 2003), Member of Parliament, Ghana. as porridge, and is visited by travellers, drivers and government officials. But cooking with inefficient cookstoves and smoking ovens was causing air pollution, and Dr Rawlings was aware of health issues being experienced by the women working in the market. “They complained about the exposure to smoke and soot from the cooking,” she explains. “I knew one woman who had died as a result of long exposure and others who had developed chronic lung disease. The idea was to improve their quality of life as well as to make tangible the concept of their carbon footprint and incentivise them to reduce their carbon emissions. The added advantage was the fact that they would be spending less money on fuel which meant their profit margins would be bigger. Eighty per cent of the market women were on board, while the rest didn’t quite get it. We went ahead, and those who were interested got their stoves retro-fitted. By the time the project was over, the rest of the women were clamouring to be part of it! “In order to quantify the benefits, we measured the particulate emissions before and after, so it was possible to see a very tangible reduction in carbon emissions. It’s been a very successful project, which has made a huge impact on the lives of the women in the market by empowering them in economic terms, as well as having a positive impact on their health and on reducing their environmental impact. Climate change is usually so abstract but this project has made it tangible, they spend less money on fuel and so make a bigger profit.” Dr Rawlings is continuing her work on projects in her constituency and elsewhere in Ghana, where she hopes to tackle the issues of burning rubbish in municipal areas (against bye-laws, but it still happens), water pollution due to illegal mining, the use of landfill causing the leaching of chemicals into the


“THERE IS A DIRECT CORRELATION BETWEEN THE STATE OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE WELLBEING OF THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THAT ENVIRONMENT.” water supply and flooding during periods of heavy rainfall due to poor planning and the dumping of plastic in the drains. She is also working to promote the recycling of plastics into building materials. “I am drawn to projects showing the impact of climate change on health,” she says. “There is a direct correlation between the state of the environment and the wellbeing of the people living in that environment. For me with my medical training some of these things are so obvious, but the women at the market were really complaining and it was almost as if nobody was listening.” Here in Ireland also, climate change is on the political agenda, as evidenced by recent disagreements between the parties in government about the proposed ban on burning turf. “Often tradition and culture are used as excuses for destruction, but traditions and cultures change all the time. There is nothing good about cutting turf and burning it or selling it for gardening compost,” said climate campaigner George Monbiot in a recent interview. “Turf is among the most important global carbon stores. It’s absolutely critical as a water store as well. It sits at the heart of an absolutely crucial ecosystem. Burning it is quite similar to cutting down a rainforest to burn the wood… the benefit you get is in no way commensurate with the harm that you do.” At RCSI, Professor Debbi Stanistreet, Associate Professor of Public Health, has for many years conducted research in the area of household air pollution in low-income economies and is currently leading a project in Malawi, The Smokeless Village, funded by Irish Aid. At RCSI she is involved in several initiatives related to climate change. “Work is going on across the University,” she says, “and we stand behind all the estimates around the danger of global warming and the need to keep the level of warming to 1.5C degrees or lower compared to pre-industrial levels. That is quite accepted within the scientific community as the way forward.” Professor Stanistreet acknowledges that for those of us who live in highincome countries, the urgency of addressing climate change is not always so obvious as it is in low-income countries.

Traditional stoves can result in significant smoke and air pollution in the home.

“But it is becoming more obvious as we see what is happening with different weather events closer to home, for instance in Germany and the US last year. It is definitely not a far-off threat, it is an ongoing disaster and we are seeing people and environments all over the world endangered, even if it is not immediately on our doorstep. There is Professor Debbi Stanistreet, Associate Professor of Public Health, RCSI. a definite need to act as soon as possible.” Professor Stanistreet notes that the links between climate change and health are not always immediately recognised, and yet the impact on health is (and will be) extensive.

THE LINKS BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND HEALTH ARE NOT ALWAYS IMMEDIATELY RECOGNISED, AND YET THE IMPACT ON HEALTH IS (AND WILL BE) EXTENSIVE. “Air pollution throughout the world exacerbates and possibly even causes non-communicable diseases, so that means we are seeing increases in coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease and COPD. With warmer temperatures we have seen direct deaths related to heat and dehydration, and airborne allergies triggering asthma. We are also seeing lots of chronic kidney disease of unknown origin, where workers in extreme temperatures in Latin America, Middle East and Africa are becoming very dehydrated and developing chronic kidney disease, which is fatal in countries where there is no access to dialysis. “There is considerable air pollution in Ireland from multiple causes including traffic and burning of peat and biomass. In Dublin, pollution from traffic is a serious issue and in some areas nitrous oxide levels have been known to rise above WHO thresholds. That affects all of us – in terms of cataracts, small-fordate babies, the increased risk of dementia, and the harm to children’s cognitive abilities. It is a problem for everyone. So we need to address it at home as well as abroad.” Another concerning issue is climate migration, and the impact it will have on stretched resources. “We are going to be looking at 200 million climate migrants by 2050,” Professor Stanistreet explains, “We can see the complex effects of migration as a result of the war in Ukraine, so when we look at the scale of what could happen, migration due to climate change would be on a much greater scale. This will place huge demands on health services and housing, and impact on mental health. Throughout the world we’ll be seeing food shortages because of the pressure on the amount of food that can be produced and also the quality of that food. When you have food insecurity you have higher food


prices and that’s going to contribute very much to health inequalities. Where there are health inequalities, the better off will have some protection from the impact of climate change but those who are most vulnerable and marginalised won’t, whether here in Ireland or as seen already in Africa. “There are implications for infectious diseases too. As people are displaced, the disease-carrying vectors we might traditionally associate with sub-Saharan Africa will begin a geographical shift north, so we’ll see patterns of malaria moving north as temperatures rise. And then there are all the mental health and social issues, and the violence associated with forced migration and the loss of livelihoods.” Professor Stanistreet says it is RCSI’s responsibility to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on health, and to encourage medical students and doctors to understand what action they can take in terms of mitigation and, where required, adaptation. “Most obviously,” she says, “they can respond to the clinical implications, by treating conditions such as heatstroke and dehydration on the frontline. But I would strongly advocate for the role of prevention too, by reducing our ecological footprint and trying to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. We should not be starting at the point where we are dragging people out of the river but we should be preventing them from falling in in the first place and thereby reducing the pressure on the health service. “An obvious example is the huge rise in childhood obesity in the last 30/40 years; there is a need for all to be involved in prevention. That can include lifestyle change and education, but also thinking about structural change and why people in some communities are more prone to obesity. We know it’s a disease associated with socio-economic status, and all clinicians should be involved in that through individual patient care, and tackling underlying causes. “The second way is through patient education and empowerment. If we want to reduce disease progression, we must empower patients to take on a greater role in the management of their own health.” Professor Stanistreet believes doctors must first engage with prevention and empowerment before changes are made to health service delivery, green energy use and sustainable buildings. “Then in addition, we should start looking at service delivery, and at the impact of clinical decision-making on the environment,” she says. “Doctors need to follow clear evidence-based guidelines to streamline the way they run their service. “Finally doctors need to think about the preferential use of the treatment options and available medical technology. In the operating theatre, how many single-use items do we use? In the 1980s there was a consumerist attitude that everything had to be throwaway, whereas now we associate single-use with being clean and sterile. But actually we were clean and sterile before we had single-use! We used items and we sterilised them and used them again. We also need to look at procurement – if something is made in India and shipped here, that has an environmental impact by virtue of its production, wrapping, and shipping. Can we look at our practices and think about re-use and sterilising, and learn lessons from looking at low-income countries where they don’t have the same throwaway culture? There is some evidence of no greater infection risk, and of less environmental impact. We need to look at lower-carbon models of care right the way through health service, and quality improvement through sustainable healthcare.” Professor Stanistreet praises the good work being done by the HSE and Department of Health on buildings and energy use, but says progress in areas requiring clinical leadership is slower.


DR ØYSTEIN FLESLAND (CLASS OF 1981) Senior Advisor to the Norwegian Directorate of Health in Blystadlia, Norway, reports that the weather there is a little warmer and more humid, and that winters are shorter. “People worry about climate migration and food supply … at work as well as at home we reduce and recycle, travel less, save energy and serve less meat.”

“Within hospitals they are developing ‘green teams’, but they need clinical leaders to come forward and push the agenda. In terms of sustainable healthcare, there are lessons to be learned from the UK, where they are further ahead.” Among other initiatives in which RCSI is involved are The Net Zero Carbon Surgery Commission, looking at evidence in relation to green surgery, CHIME – Climate Health in Medical Education – a programme in the seven universities across Ireland including Queen’s, and a collaboration with the Institute of Sustainable Healthcare, where RCSI is acting as a beacon institution, working to embed sustainable healthcare in the curriculum. RCSI is also involved in research into safe surgery in Africa headed up by Professor Ruairi Brugha, and Paniwater, led by Professor Kevin McGuigan, focusing on clean drinking water. “In terms of the medical curriculum, there is a lot going on in Ireland,” says Professor Stanistreet. “The Planetary Health Report Card is a medical studentled annual survey which started in North America, and evaluates universities on their approach to planetary health by grading them. It is a very good tool and universities have to sit up and take notice. At RCSI we’ve improved and are the top university in Ireland this year.” RCSI is also working in parallel with Irish Doctors for the Environment (IDE) to develop learning outcomes for teaching planetary health and integrate different topics around climate change into the medical undergraduate curriculum. IDE is a group which promotes climate change advocacy in healthcare, and includes members who are surgeons, hospital doctors, GPs, paediatricians and psychiatrists, alongside representatives from pharmacy and physiotherapy. IDE has eleven committee members and 14 group committee chairs, with 200 members in its main WhatsApp group and close to 1,000 subscribers to its newsletter. “Climate change is affecting people’s health and healthcare workers are at the frontline of that, with COVID-19 being a perfect example,” explains RCSI alumna Dr Rachel MacCann (Class of 2016), Infectious Diseases SpR and ICAT Fellow at St Vincent’s University Hospital (SVUH). “We break down the work that needs to be done into different areas because we are conscious that our members are busy with work and study. “Our air quality working group focuses on how air pollution is affecting people’s health – linking air quality to negative health outcomes is perhaps something that has not been talked about much in Ireland. Our active transport group advocates for health through active transport – using walking and cycling as

DR PENNY JOHNSON (CLASS OF 1967), based in Canberra and now retired after a career in community paediatrics with ACT Health says the biggest risk from climate change in Australia is increased devastation from fires and floods. “There is clear evidence of increased mental health issues in children and young adults, and also concerns regarding outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis in NSW and Victoria for the first time.”


a means of getting from A to B rather than having to enforce exercise, so people are improving their health while reducing carbon emissions. Another group, run by anaesthetists, looks at reducing emissions by adjusting the use of anaesthetic gases in surgery, and our direct action group looks to take part in protests – some of the fun stuff like school strikes and Extinction Dr Rachel MacCann (Class of 2016) Infectious Diseases SpR and ICAT Fellow, St Vincent’s Rebellion.” University Hospital. Dr MacCann explains that one of the biggest overall factors impacting health in Ireland is air quality. “In the winter when you have greater cloud cover you tend to have higher levels of air pollution, which can lead to admissions to hospital for pneumonias and RTIs. It’s the most obvious link between health and climate as we live in more congested cities and people spend more time in their cars. “But although we don’t experience many extreme weather events in Ireland, last year during the heatwave we did see a spike in ED attendances, and that’s something that’s been seen before in previous heatwaves. As we see more weather extremes, looking back over the past few years we do see a correlation between those and ED admissions, cardiovascular disease-related admissions and stroke. One of our members, geriatrician Dr Colm Byrne, is doing research on the impact of air quality on stroke.” And what about the changes that can be made within healthcare itself to lessen its impact on climate change? Dr MacCann says that with hospitals run by different groups, progress can be slow. “We have a sustainable healthcare working group so we are building green networks within hospitals and I have been doing that with a group in SVUH. We have made good progress. The biggest challenge is getting buy-in from the top down on different projects. “Our inhaler recycling programme was a huge success, and we did a fascinating audit in the endoscopy unit which showed that 70% of the waste in one of the bins could have been recycled, so there are lots of opportunities to change. What we are desperately trying to do is get this ingrained at the CEO and hospital board levels, and that’s where we’d like to see more work in the coming years. It’s the collective effort that will make the great overarching change. “The HSE has appointed sustainability and energy officers through the different regions and we have been working with them here in SVUH and they are great. They attend our committee meetings and are seeking out projects on which they can work with us. Energy is low-hanging fruit, as it accounts for 46% of CO2 emissions from Irish healthcare settings. Making simple changes with the energy use in hospitals could make a huge difference. Changing lightbulbs to LED, changing the use of machinery – for instance in the labs they keep the hoods on overnight, but they don’t need to do that and it uses a lot of energy – replacing old equipment with newer equipment that runs more efficiently, turning off lights and computers … These are all very simple things

“THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE IS GETTING BUY-IN FROM THE TOP DOWN ON DIFFERENT PROJECTS.” that don’t take a huge amount of systemic change, but it does take someone to coordinate them.” For Dr MacCann and her colleagues in IDE, there are worries around how the Irish healthcare system will respond to increased pressures as the result of climate change or another pandemic. “There are two ways of looking at a doomsday scenario,” she says. “We are already working in a system that’s bursting at the seams, and we are very reactive as a healthcare body in Ireland, as we have seen with COVID-19. When there is a crisis, it’s all about fixing it up and trying to get through the crisis period, but we’re not making systemic changes to be resilient. Because of that, I don’t know if the healthcare system is prepared to deal with any increased pressures from climate change or another pandemic. Will it be able to cope again with the negative health impacts, as routine operations are cancelled, waiting lists get longer, and there is more unequal access to healthcare, and these factors impact the pressure cooker in which we work? The impact can be seen in poorer health outcomes in terms of respiratory diseases, and when people have difficulty in accessing affordable housing they may live in either worse housing conditions or highly dense areas and that leads to different health outcomes too. I think the broad socio-economic impact on healthcare is something we probably will not have seen before. “Another interesting issue is the effect on mental health, which is not as often talked about but is one of the most broad-reaching impacts of climate change. Fear and anxiety related to land loss, to farmers having to adjust their daily working lives and their income, to fishermen losing their jobs are some of the negative mental impacts from the consequences of climate change. They are subtle but everything is interlinked.” Food in hospitals is another topic on IDE’s agenda. “One of the biggest types of waste in healthcare is food,” says Dr MacCann, “and often you see patients don’t finish meals or that food is discarded in the canteen. We have been trying to make changes, and one of our working groups is looking at sustainable diets. They are advocating for the food pyramid to include more plant-based options, as it does in Canada, because nutritious and sustainable meals go hand in hand, and many hospitals are not delivering on either. There is lots of room for improvement in Irish hospitals and other healthcare institutions.” But right at the top of IDE’s priority list is policy change. “The government’s climate change action plan published in 2019 did use a lot of our suggestions and a lot of our work, though whether it is implemented or not remains to be seen. We have asked the government to include climate change and healthcare in all of its policies,” says Dr MacCann. “IDE is a great, passionate group of people, we are doing this in our spare time, I wonder what we could achieve if we were doing it fulltime! It speaks to human nature what lengths people are prepared to go to in the context of climate change and human health.” In terms of the way forward for RCSI, Professor Stanistreet points to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. www.undp.org/sustainable-developmentgoals. “We recognise that we need to take action on all of them, including most importantly the first one, which focuses on alleviation of poverty if we are to achieve global health. The ultimate problem is massive inequality.” ■



FRONT DOOR RCSI’s Head Porter has many wide-ranging responsibilities but according to Frank Donegan, the job is all about who you know (and that means everyone)


rank Donegan is hugely proud of his role as Head Porter at RCSI, a position he has held since 2013 when he took over after the retirement of Jim Sherlock, who in turn succeeded the late Terry Slattery. It was the latter who employed 17-year-old Frank, who was born and bred on York Street, in a building since demolished on the site of 26 York Street. Frank remembers the early days of his job: “Before I became the fittest messenger boy in Dublin, I was knackered trying to get blood and urine (gallons of it!) to various hospitals, miles apart, within just a few hours. I confess that sometimes then, I’d hold a few back until the next day’s trip. One day, a nice girl, a technician in pathology who I had taken a bit of a shine to, sat me down and gave me a cup of tea. She explained how patients would be so worried waiting for test results. That changed my whole attitude. I’d get the samples to where they needed to be in rain, hail or snow.” That attitude was to serve the College well. Having spent so much of his life working at RCSI, there isn’t anything Frank doesn’t know about the place – or anyone he doesn’t know. Always ready to welcome returning alumni, visitors, invited speakers, conference delegates, he is quick to effect introductions, smooth paths and make things happen efficiently and courteously, ready to whisper a name into the ear of a member of staff who might need a prompt. He handles sensitive and confidential information and is the epitome of discretion. He is the College Mace Bearer at key events and maintains many RCSI traditions. He conducts tours of the College for prospective students and their families and understands the importance of this, the bigger picture, for RCSI: these students will be the future. He is always ready to provide support for an evening event or when things are particularly busy. “I’m part of a bigger team,” he says. “We are all proud to work together.” Here, he gives an insight into some of the characters alumni always remember... ■ PROFESSOR PATRICK BROE Consultant General Surgeon, Beaumont Hospital and Former President of RCSI “Our paths crossed most when Professor Broe was President of the College; at the many events, I’d look after him, make introductions with visitors. Warm, approachable, down to earth.”


■ ANNE LEGGE Former Lecturer in Anatomy “Alumni always recall her teaching powers, the way she could communicate made her very popular with students.”

■ FRANK DONEGAN Frank started at RCSI in the 1980s doing blood runs from the College to the hospitals, progressed to Porter, Deputy Head Porter and is now Head Porter.

■ PROFESSOR ARNOLD HILL Head of the School of Medicine and Professor of Surgery “Leading breast cancer surgeon and head of the medical school, the Prof is known to everyone.” ■ PROFESSOR MOIRA O’BRIEN Former Lecturer in Anatomy “Before my time, but alumni still ask for her. Her number one concern was for students and she inspired huge respect as lecturer in Anatomy. She was also well-known for being the Irish Olympic team doctor for years. I last met her when she was at RCSI to receive the Distinguished Graduate Award in 2020.”


■ PROFESSOR MARY LEADER Professor of Pathology “A very active contributor and attendee at student events and activities. Alumni of all ages know her, either as their contemporary or as their teacher. As part of my tours of 123, I always make sure to point out her portrait, which is one of the nine photographs by Amelia Stein of female leaders within RCSI.”

■ TERRY SLATTERY (1935-2020) Former Head Porter and Mace Bearer “Terry had a sort of Downton Abbey grandeur – he looked the part, he had the height, the face, the voice, the stature. His father was a prison officer in Mountjoy and he had wanted to be a guard, but he was born for this role. His knowledge of this place was legendary and he was generous with it. I remember the first time I had to assist the academics in the Gowning Room as they donned their ceremonial robes. I was really anxious, I didn’t know what to say. He told me to go to the newsagent and get a copy of Country Life and read it: ‘That will give you things to talk about.’ A great friend and mentor, no problem was ever too big for Terry to solve.”

■ PROFESSOR STANLEY MONKHOUSE Former Professor of Anatomy “He reorganised the whole system of teaching Anatomy, initiating table teaching, allotting one demonstrator to two tables. After retiring, he became a reverend in Oxford, a church leader. Very popular, outspoken, straight-talking – he’d tell you what he thought.”

■ LIZ DOYLE Former Student Welfare Officer “Liz was the students’ mammy. She went beyond the call of duty: caring for them, paying their ESB bills, comforting students who failed, writing references and finding them positions. With so many students far away from homes and family, she played a key role in student welfare.”

■ PROFESSOR KEVIN MCGUIGAN Associate Professor in the Physiology and Medical Physics Department “Anything strange?” one of us will say. We have known each other years, good friends who share an appetite for all the College news.”

■ JOHNNY ROBINSON (1933-1993) Former Car Park Attendant “Johnny Carpark was a legend: he could fit 100 cars into ten spaces. If a doctor pulled up late for a lecture, or a student late for an exam, he would say ‘Give me your keys, off you go!’ If a surgeon had to get their car out to get to the hospital urgently, Johnny would manoeuvre ten cars to do it. A valet parking service before the term even existed! He died on his 60th birthday, having parked cars that day. We always say that if he had lived longer, there would be no 26 York Street – it would be a carpark!”

■ JIM SHERLOCK Former Porter “While best known as Head Porter, Jim was also associated with sport at RCSI, especially the soccer team and in particular the memorable 1994 trip to the World Cup in the USA. Now retired, he is called upon to be an invigilator, a patient simulator and is on the Board of Trustees of the College.”


■ MR HAROLD BROWNE (1922-2015) Former Lecturer in Anatomy since 1953, Surgical Prosector from 1987 “He was very unassuming, humble, respected and very well known. He lectured until he was 90 and when he died, the students lined York Street as the hearse made its way past the College. He was a huge Arsenal supporter and I was a Manchester United fan, so we enjoyed the rivalry. RCSI has dedicated a lecture theatre in his name.”

■ MR PARNELL KEELING Lecturer and Surgical Prosector, Dept of Anatomy “The Keeling brothers were all named after generals. I’d describe Parnell as staunch RCSI. He always had time for a conversation – about all sorts.”

■ CORRIENA BRIEN, Head of Student Services “Students always find Corriena helpful and approachable. Every year she accompanies a team to the Boston Marathon and is a fantastic support to them.”

■ PROFESSOR ALAN JOHNSON Former Dean of RCSI and Lecturer in Biochemistry “AJ was hugely popular, he served two terms as Dean so all the students knew him well. Very involved with RCSI rugby, he was also on the wine committee, choosing wines for Charter Day and other special occasions. There were lots of tastings and visits to the wine cellar to show me what needed to be taken up.”


■ DOROTHY BENSON Worked in the Exams Office and still an invigilator for exams Alumni will know Dorothy Benson who worked in RCSI exams office for a number of years and continues to work as an invigilator for exams.

■ PROFESSOR DAVID BOUCHIER-HAYES (1940-2019) Former Dean of RCSI and Professor of Surgery “The Bouch was a character, witty and warm, a teller of great stories; he knew every student personally. A great innovator (he brought laparoscopic surgery to Ireland), a superb teacher and a brilliant mentor to many. The Bouch would always attend Results Day – he’d be there to pick the best students to work with him! He is immortalised with an auditorium named in his honour.”

■ MR BRIAN LANE Lecturer and Surgical Prosector, Dept of Anatomy “As we say at RCSI, ‘Don’t let knowledge walk out the door’. This applies to no-one more: Brian has a way of teaching that alumni still talk about – beyond what’s in the textbooks. Inspirational. Whenever I am taking prospective students and their families on a tour of 26 York Street, Brian will make time to engage with them. He understands the bigger picture.” ■


A SPECIAL HONOUR The Association of Medical and Dental Graduates, RCSI recognises a medical or dental graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to healthcare, education, research, humanitarian aid and patient care

■ AUBREY MORRISON, MBBS, MACP, FASN, Professor Emeritus, Division of Nephrology, John T Milliken Department of Medicine at the University of Washington, St Louis, was bestowed with the 2021 Distinguished Graduate Award by the Association of Medical and Dental Graduates.


very year the Association of Medical and Dental Graduates (AMDG), RCSI presents the Distinguished Graduate Award to a medical or dental graduate who has made an outstanding contribution to healthcare, education, research, humanitarian aid and patient care. The award was established in 1988. Professor Aubrey R Morrison (Class of 1970) is the 17th awardee of the medal. Founded in 1932, the AMDG promotes social and professional connections between fellow RCSI graduates throughout the world. All graduates from the School of Medicine and former School of Dentistry become life members automatically upon graduation and are invited to attend and get involved with the annual programme of events and awards. The 2021 award presentation, made last August as part of the Alumni Gathering 2021, was once again a virtual ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was broadcast via the RCSI Alumni YouTube channel. President of the Association, Dr Patrick Troy led the ceremony, and a citation given by fellow Guyanese and personal friend, Dr Pamela Mangal (Class of 1971), detailed Professor Morrison’s distinguished accomplishments and described the trajectory of his career. Following the citation, Professor Morrison expressed his pleasure at receiving the award: “I am deeply and extremely honoured to be awarded and presented with this prestigious award from my alma mater.” Professor Aubrey Rohan Morrison was born in Georgetown, Guyana, South America and came to Dublin in 1964 to commence his studies in Medicine at RCSI. He described his arrival at RCSI as “eye-opening”. “I rubbed shoulders with students from all over the world who had different customs and spoke different primary languages. It made an indelible impression on me. The Graduation experience coloured my view of the world from RCSI. and enriched my life.”

As a student Professor Morrison excelled. He was awarded the Norman Rae Memorial Gold Medal in Biochemistry in 1966, the Evart Memorial Medal in Anatomy in 1966, the Stoney Memorial Gold Medal in Anatomy in 1967 and the Dominic Corrigan Prize in Medicine in 1970 (Jervis Street Hospital). Professor Morrison cited the impact of the many “wonderful and committed teachers and lecturers at RCSI” on the trajectory of his career, giving special mention to a previous recipient of the Association’s Distinguished Graduate Award, Professor Moira O’Brien “who exhorted me to raise the bar”, and to Professor William O’Dwyer “who kindled in me an interest in nephrology”.



1988 Dr Pat O’Callaghan 1989 Dr Harry O’Flanagan 1990 Dr Victoria Coffey L-R: Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1995 was conferred on Professor Morrison by the President of the Royal College of Physicians, Dr Stanley Roberts; Professor Morrison with Professor Moira O'Brien, recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Award in 2020; Professor Morrison received the Washington University Alumni Faculty Achievement Award in 2016 from David H Perlmutter, Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs.

Professor Morrison graduated from RCSI in 1970, and also did the external examination with the University of London the same year, gaining his MBBS. He started his postgraduate training at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Washington University, in St Louis, Missouri, USA. He completed his residency and fellowships in nephrology in 1975 and in pharmacology in 1978. He was involved in research related to chronic renal disease and also the response to inflammation and the understanding of the role of COX-2. In 1982, Professor Morrison was elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the first black physicianscientist in the US to achieve this honour. He was the first black faculty member at the School of Medicine to achieve a full professorship. He held numerous academic positions and published numerous papers. In recognition of his academic accomplishments, he received many honours and awards throughout his career. During his training in internal medicine he overcame many hurdles which could have derailed his educational

HE WAS THE FIRST BLACK FACULTY MEMBER AT THE SCHOOL OF MEDICINE TO ACHIEVE A FULL PROFESSORSHIP. trajectory. He was one of the first black house officers in the training programme in medicine, in a city which had a strong history of racial segregation. He was to encounter racial discrimination of varying degrees throughout his career. Dr Mangal said: “Professor Morrison contributed a lot to solving the problems of racism and, thereby, helped to build and maintain a culture for inclusion for all.” Professor Morrison has been a member of many National Institutes study sections and a Member of the Board of Scientific Counsellors of the National Institutes of Health. He


is also very proud of his association with the Nations Advisory Committee of the Harold Amos Minority Faculty Award Program, which identifies promising under-represented minorities in the United States, and awards four-year grants to launch their careers in academic medicine as physicianscientists and outcome researchers. He published his experiences of racial discrimination in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (January 2021). This article set out steps to deal with the solution to the problem of racism which was evident in society. Professor Morrison was made a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in 1976. In 1995, he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and in 2012, Master of the American College of Physicians. The same year he received the Harriet P Dustan Award from the American College of Physicians for Outstanding Work in Science as Related to Medicine. He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association. In 2016, he was awarded the Washington School of Medicine Alumni Association Award in honour of his distinguished service and his contributions to understanding and treatment of renal disease. When he retired from Washington University's Division of Nephrology in October 2020, Professor Morrison had been at Barnes-Jewish Hospital for over 45 years. In 2021 he was awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award. Professor Morrison reiterated how delighted he was to be recognised by the Association: “I am thrilled to be awarded this honour. If my mother was alive, she would be extremely proud of her son. I shall place it in my home where it will serve as a reminder to my children and grandchildren of the great times I had in Dublin and at RCSI.” Dr Patrick Troy, President of the Association of Medical and Dental Graduates, said, “The medal is in safekeeping here in the College and awaits your return to your alma mater, hopefully next year!” ■

1991 Mr John McAuliffe Curtin FRCSI 1992 Dr Fergal Nally 1994 Mr Desmond Kneafsey FRCS 1995 Dr Jack Preger 1996 Professor William MacGowan FRCSI 2002 Dr J Vincent Coyle 2006 Mr Hy Browne FRCSI 2008 Professor Eoin T O’Brien 2009 Professor Lord Ara Darzi FRCS 2010 Mr Peter McLean FRCSI (Posthumously) 2018 Dr Helen Towers 2019 Dr Kate Coleman 2020 Professor Moira O'Brien


Exciting research at RCSI reflects the contribution scientists make to healthcare and society GENE DELIVERY

S c ient i st s have de velope d polypeptide-based materials that act as effective vectors for delivering gene therapies. The platform, which is the first of its kind, enables the vectors to be adapted to suit the specific gene therapy cargo. Professor Sally-Ann Cryan The work, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). “With the success of COVID-19 vaccines, the potential of gene therapies is becoming apparent, and advanced nanoparticle delivery systems are key to enabling their use clinically. We have shown that these nanoparticles have real potential to be a gamechanger in the delivery of gene therapies,” said Professor Sally-Ann Cryan, the study’s senior author and Professor of Drug Delivery, RCSI. A major challenge for gene therapies is preparing them in a way that can deliver the genetic information into the host cells.


A new study of 50 patients, led by researchers from RCSI and published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis, shows that patients with Long COVID syndrome continue to have higher measures of blood clotting, which may help explain persistent symptoms, such as reduced physical fitness and fatigue. Previous work by the same group studied the dangerous clotting observed in patients with severe acute COVID-19. They discovered that clotting markers were significantly elevated in the blood of patients with Long COVID syndrome compared with healthy controls. “Our results suggest that the clotting system may be involved in the root cause of Long COVID syndrome,” said Dr Helen Fogarty,

The researchers developed a platform that produces bespoke star-shaped polypeptide nanoparticles, which effectively deliver a range of therapies, including gene therapies. Crucially, these polypeptides are more flexible and easier to handle than lipids. To demonstrate the potential of this material, the researchers used it to deliver a gene therapy that regenerated bone. In preclinical work, the researchers loaded the material with DNA molecules that promote bones and blood vessels to regrow. They placed these nanomedicines in a scaffold that could be implanted into a defect site and deliver the genetic cargo into infiltrating host cells. The geneloaded scaffold accelerated bone tissue regeneration, with a six-fold increase in new bone formation compared to a scaffold alone. “While more testing is needed before these therapies can be used clinically, our platform allows us to design our polypeptides to meet a variety of delivery scenarios and provide tailored solutions to gene delivery challenges,” said Professor Andreas Heise, project collaborator and Professor of Polymer Chemistry, RCSI. “We are developing this patent-protected technology towards commercialisation, with support from an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund Award, and are seeking expressions of interest from industry partners and investors.”

the study’s lead author, ICAT Fellow and PhD student at the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology in the RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences. “Millions of people are already dealing with the symptoms of Long COVID syndrome. It is imperative that we continue to study this condition and develop effective treatments,” said Professor James O’Donnell, Director of the Irish Centre for Vascular Biology, RCSI and Consultant Haematologist in the National Coagulation Centre in St James’s Hospital, Dublin. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Health Research Board, the Irish Clinical Academic Training programme and the Irish COVID-19 Vasculopathy Study and was supported by a philanthropic grant from the 3M Foundation.



Professor Hannah McGee and Professor Fergal O’Brien with Lorna Kerin, RCSI PPI Manager, and RCSI colleagues.


RCSI marked its participation in the national public and patient involvement “Ignite” Network in November 2021, as part of the official launch of the network, co-funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council. The PPI Ignite Network is a collaboration between seven Irish universities and over 60 partner organisations, including patient organisations at both national and local levels. Public and patient involvement (PPI) in research involves people with lived experience of a healthcare condition or health service working in partnership with research teams to determine research priorities and how best to carry out that research. RCSI, one of seven lead PPI Ignite Network sites, coordinated by NUIG and including TCD, UCC, DCU, UCD and UL, will build its internal PPI capacity and develop innovative new PPI programmes both locally and across the network. Local RCSI partners include Future Neuro, the SFI Research Centre for Chronic and Rare Neurological Diseases hosted by RCSI, HSE Digital Transformation, Alpha-1 Foundation Ireland, RCSI Clinical Research Centre and the Irish Heart Foundation. “The Ignite Network represents a fantastic opportunity to share resources across institutes, in a manner that speeds effective and impactful integration of the public and patient voice to health research,” said Professor Gianpiero Cavalleri, RCSI PPI Ignite Network Site Lead. Lorna Kerin, RCSI PPI Manager, described it as “a privilege to support the strategic and operational development of policies, procedures and practises that will embed public and patient involvement throughout RCSI.”


An RCSI-led PhD consortium is one of three expert teams awarded funding as part of an investment by the Health Research Board under the Collaborative Doctoral Awards 2021. The award will provide structured training for up to five PhD candidates and will fund a research programme on health and care in psychotic disorders. The RCSI consortium, PSychosis Ireland Structured Training and Research Programme (PSI-STAR) is led by Professor David Cotter with co-leads Professor Mary Cannon, RCSI, and Professor Agnes Higgins, TCD and with PPI lead, Dr Mike Watts of GROW, a community-based mental health support organisation. PSI-STAR is a collaboration with clinicians and researchers from Maynooth University, Queen’s University, NUIG, UCD and UCC. Collaborators include HSE and Mental Health Commission partners but, most critically, a deep representation from Irish Patient and Family Advocacy groups including SHINE, Mental Health Reform, Mental Health Engagement and Recovery, Irish Advocacy Network as well as Spunout. The PSI-STAR will develop an all-Ireland integrated network of clinicians and researchers from the disciplines of psychiatry, nursing, social work, sociology and psychology, as well as policymakers, who will foster, support and implement findings of clinically-oriented research into psychosis care in Ireland. “Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder occur in about three in 100 people. They usually start in adolescence or young adulthood and can have a devastating impact on a young person’s education, family and social relationships and career,” said Professor David Cotter, Professor of Molecular Psychiatry at RCSI, Consultant Psychiatrist at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin and investigator at FutureNeuro, the SFI research centre for chronic and rare neurological diseases. “It is critical that people are diagnosed in the early stages of psychosis, or even just before it begins, so that the best treatments and supports can be offered as soon as possible. I am looking forward to the training and research outcomes from the PSI-STAR programme that have the potential to drive early interventions that will potentially aid the recovery of people with psychosis.”


New research has found a possible relationship between a specific type of bacteria found in tumours and the spread of bowel cancer. Published in the leading Professor Jochen Prehn gastroenterology journal, Gut, the research can help clinicians identify patients at risk and make decisions on treatment options for patients with bowel cancer whose tumours are infected with the bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum. This collection of bacteria, which normally lives in the oral cavity, infects bowel tumours, changes how tumour cells behave, and may

trigger the spread of the tumour to other organs. Using genomic sequencing, researchers are now able to detect traces of an infection with bacteria or other microbes in patients’ tumours that previously would have been undetectable. The RCSI-led research set out to understand which tumours are infected with bacteria, and what the role of a bacterial infection means in terms of how the disease progresses. Lead researcher, Jochen Prehn, Professor of Physiology and Director of the Centre for Systems Medicine at RCSI, said: “An effective tool to help oncologists to personalise colorectal cancer treatment is urgently needed. We hope these findings will enhance diagnostics to improve the efficacy of current treatment and help further advance the use of new therapeutics for patients infected with this bacterium.”



Researchers from RCSI and AMBER, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research, along with leading global medical technology company Integra LifeSciences, have discovered a new breakthrough for nerve repair therapies based on the body’s own processes. The research was published in the journal Matrix Biology with Drs Alan Hibbitts and Zuzana Kočí the lead authors of the study. The preclinical study showed that use of extracellular matrix (ECM) supports improved nerve fibre regeneration across large nerve defects without the need for application of additional cells or growth factors. In these preclinical trials, the team’s novel ECM-loaded medical device known as a ‘nerve guidance conduit’, was shown to support improved recovery responses at eight weeks following the repair of traumatic nerve lacerations with substantial loss of tissue. The research team found that by finetuning the combination and ratio of ECM proteins and loading them into the nerve guidance conduit, it was possible to support increased pro-repair inf lammation, increased blood vessel density, and increased density of regenerating nerves, all as compared to standard of care. By mimicking the body’s nerve repair processes, this new approach may eliminate the need for additional stem cells and drug therapies. Peripheral nerve injury is a major clinical problem and is known to affect more than five million people worldwide every year, leaving those afflicted with loss of motor or sensory function to muscles or skin. Current therapies to repair nerve damage involve transplanting the patients’ healthy nerves to repair damage or implanting an artificial nerve guidance conduit. The team’s novel patented approach to nerve repair has been shown to increase the density of regenerating long-ner ve structures, known as axons, and to generate a strong increase in blood vessel density to better support the regenerating tissues.

Dr Annie Curtis

A DISRUPTED BODY CLOCK AND INFLAMMATORY DISEASE New research from RCSI has demonstrated the significant role that an irregular body clock plays in driving inflammation in the body’s immune cells, with implications for the most serious and prevalent diseases in humans. Published in Frontiers of Immunology, the research was led by the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences at RCSI. The circadian body clock generates 24-hour rhythms that keep humans healthy and in time with the day/night cycle. This includes regulating the rhythm of the body’s own (innate) immune cells called macrophages. When these cell rhythms are disrupted due to things like erratic eating/sleeping patterns or shift work, the cells produce molecules that drive inflammation. This can lead to chronic inflammatory diseases such as heart disease,

obesity, arthritis, diabetes and cancer, and also impact our ability to fight infection. In this study, researchers found that macrophages without a body clock took up far more glucose and broke it down more quickly than normal cells. They also found that, in the mitochondria (the cells’ energy powerhouse), the pathways by which glucose was further broken down to produce energy were very different in macrophages without a clock. This led to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which further fuelled inflammation. Dr George Timmons, lead author on the study, said: “Our results add to the growing body of work showing why disruption of our body clock leads to inflammatory and infectious disease, and one of the aspects is fuel usage at the level of key immune cells such as macrophages.” Dr Annie Curtis, Senior Lecturer at RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and senior author on the paper, added: “This study also shows that anything which negatively impacts on our body clocks, such as insufficient sleep and not enough daylight, can impact on the ability of our immune system to work effectively.” RCSI conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from Swansea University, TCD and University of Bristol.


New research by RCSI suggests that effective wound healing may be aided by replicating a crucial component of our blood. The finding, published in Advanced Functional Materials, was discovered by researchers at the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and SFI AMBER Centre based at RCSI’s Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine. This study explores ways of enhancing the wound-healing process by extracting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) from the blood of a patient with a complex skin wound and manipulating it through 3D printing to form an implant for tissue repair to treat difficult-to-heal skin wounds in a single surgical procedure. Results showed that application of the 3D-printed PRP implant helped to speed up the healing of the wound by enabling efficient development of new blood vessels and inhibiting scarring and thickening of tissue, both essential for effective wound healing. Professor Fergal O’Brien, Professor of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine at RCSI, explained: “As well as promising results for skin wound healing, this technology can potentially be used to regenerate different tissues, therefore dramatically influencing the ever-growing regenerative medicine, 3D printing and personalised medicine markets.” Funding for this project came from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under the M-ERA.NET EU Network and the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre, and the EU BlueHuman Interreg Atlantic Area Project. The RCSI research team collaborated with researchers from the #Bs Research Group at University of Minho and JCVS/3Bs Associate Laboratory in Portugal, the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering and AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research.



Dr Damir Varešlija and Professor Leonie Young


A study led by researchers at RCSI and the Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre (BRCC) has revealed a potential new way to treat secondary breast cancer that has spread to the brain, using existing drugs. The study, published in Nature Communications, was funded by Breast Cancer Ireland with support from Breast Cancer Now and SFI. The RCSI study focused on genetically tracking the tumour evolution from diagnosis of primary breast to the metastatic spread in the brain in cancer patients. The researchers found that almost half of the tumours had changes in the way they repair their DNA, making these tumours vulnerable to an existing type of drug known as a PARP inhibitor. PARP inhibitor drugs work by preventing cancer cells to repair their DNA, which results in the cancer cells dying. “Our study represents an important development in getting one step closer to a potential treatment for patients with this devastating complication of breast cancer,” commented Professor Leonie Young, the study’s Principal Investigator. “By uncovering these new vulnerabilities in DNA pathways in brain metastasis, our research opens up the possibility of novel treatment strategies for patients who previously had limited targeted therapy options,” said study author Dr Damir Varešlija. The research, led by Beaumont RCSI Cancer Centre investigators Professor Leonie Young, Dr Nicola Cosgrove, Dr Damir Varešlija and Professor Arnold Hill, was carried out in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and University of Pittsburgh, USA.


A team of experts led by Professor Alice Stanton, RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, has called on the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) to make public the evidence which led to the conclusions of its most recent report that links red meat consumption to certain diseases. In a letter published in The Lancet, the academics raise concerns about the substantial differences in estimates of disease burdens attributable to dietary risk factors, included in GBD 2019 study by comparison with the previously published GBD 2017 study. The letter states: “the 2019 estimates of deaths attributable to unprocessed red meat intake have increased 36-fold, and estimates of DALYs attributable to unprocessed red meat intake have increased 18-fold.” DALYs are an internationally recognised measure of the impact of diseases on populations. Based on these findings the GBD 2019 reported that red meat intake contributes to the causation of a range of diseases, including heart disease, breast cancer and stroke, in addition to diabetes and colon cancer. It appears that the dramatic increase in the 2019 estimates is dependent on two assumptions; that the optimal intake of red meat is zero; and that risk rises sharply even with moderate consumption of red meat. Professor Alice Stanton said: “It is of considerable concern that the GBD 2019 study provides little or no evidence regarding the scientific basis for the assumption that even a moderate consumption of red meat results in a sharp increases in risk of cancers, heart attacks and strokes.” The letter recommends that the GBD 2019 dietary risk estimates are not used in any national or international policy documents until comprehensive independent peer reviews have been conducted of the evidence underpinning the revised estimates.

Industry Engagement

In 2015, Professor Sally-Ann Cryan, Professor of Drug Delivery in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, entered a six-year collaborative research programme with Aerogen, co-funded by SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, CÚRAM. The RCSI-Aerogen research project was entered into the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Awards in 2021 in the Industry Engagement Impact Award category, which recognises and celebrates knowledge transfer success when Irish publicly funded research performing organisations and companies work together. Outputs from the programme have enabled Aerogen to deepen its engagement with potential pharma and biotech customers by demonstrating their detailed knowledge of emerging therapeutic strategies and novel drug delivery materials. Research engagement between RCSI and Aerogen now spans the spectrum of preclinical and clinical research and has recently developed into undergraduate and postgraduate education.

In October 2020, the Higher Education Authority awarded €7.8m to the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences to expand their focus on emerging and future pharma technologies. “Enabling Future Pharma – Beyond the Pill” will develop a suite of innovative programmes in partnership with industry. Aerogen is one of the founding industry partners in the programme, delivering lectures, hosting students and participating in the programme steering board.




A clinical trial conducted by researchers from RCSI and Beaumont Hospital and St James’s Hospital Dublin has indicated an effective treatment for critically ill COVID-19 patients. The study, published in Med, investigates the effects of using antiinflammatory protein, alpha-1 antitryspin (AAT), to treat COVID-19 patients, who have progressed to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). ARDS is a highly inflammatory state hallmarked by airway damage, respiratory failure and increased risk of death. Treatment options for COVID-19 patients who have ARDS are particularly limited. AAT is a naturally occurring human protein produced by the liver and released into the bloodstream which normally acts to protect the lungs from the destructive actions of common illnesses. In this randomised controlled trial, AAT that had been purified from the blood of healthy donors was administered to patients with COVID-19-associated ARDS, with the aim of reducing inflammation. The results indicated that treatment with AAT led to decreased inflammation after one week. The study also found that the treatment was safe and well tolerated, and did not interfere with patients’ ability to generate their own protective response to COVID-19. This discovery suggests a potentially important role for AAT in the treatment of ARDS and other inflammatory diseases associated with COVID-19.


New research has revealed that the link between “bad” cholesterol (LDL-C) and poor health outcomes, such as heart attack and stroke, may not be as strong as previously thought. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the research questions the efficacy of statins when prescribed with the aim of lowering LDL-C and therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Previous research has suggested that using statins to lower LDL-C positively affects health outcomes, and this is reflected in various iterations of expert guidelines for the prevention of CVD. Statins are now commonly prescribed by doctors, with one third of Irish adults over the age of 50

Newly created RCSI spin-out company Inthelia Therapeutics is developing a potential new treatment for sepsis, also known as blood poisoning, which kills more people in Ireland than heart attack, lung, colon and breast cancer combined. A staggering 60% of all hospital deaths in Ireland are related to sepsis. Worldwide, there are an estimated 50 million new cases of sepsis each year, with 11 million deaths. Sepsis is caused by bacteria from a primary infection gaining entry to the bloodstream. For example, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, appendicitis or even a simple cut, scrape or break in the skin can lead to sepsis and rapidly cause multiple organ failure, if untreated. In many cases, antibiotics are not effective due to drug resistance or delays in identifying the type of bacteria that has caused the infection. Research by Professor Steve Kerrigan, RCSI School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences and Founder/Chief Scientific Officer of Inthelia Therapeutics, has revealed that non-antibiotic drug

taking statins, according to previous research. The research demonstrates that lowering LDL-C using statins had an inconsistent and inconclusive impact on CVD outcomes such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and all-cause mortality. In addition, it indicates that the overall benefit of taking statins may be small and will vary depending on an individual’s personal risk factors. Lead author on the paper Dr Paula Byrne from the HRB Centre for Primary Care Research in RCSI’s Department of General Practice, commented: “Our research indicates that the benefits of taking statins are varied and can be quite modest.” The researchers go on to suggest that this updated information should be communicated to patients through informed

Professor Steve Kerrigan

Cilengitide has the potential to stop all sepsis-causing pathogens from taking hold in the early stages of the condition and can also potentially stop sepsis from causing organ failure in the later stages of the condition. Inthelia is now seeking investment to fund the completion of a human clinical trial in sepsis patients. Further research is also taking place on the impact of Cilengitide on COVID-19 after initial results indicated that it could play an important role in preventing the virus from attaching to the cells in the lungs and blood vessels, key events leading to respiratory distress and Long COVID. Professor Steve Kerrigan was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Commercialisation Innovation Award at RCSI Research Day 2022 for commercialisation of his research through Inthelia Therapeutics.

clinical decision-making and updated clinical guidelines and policy. This important discovery was a collaboration with Professor Susan M Smith, also of RCSI and with researchers from the University of New Mexico, USA, the Institute for Scientific Freedom in Denmark, Bond University in Australia and independent researcher Dr Kirsty O’Brien. ■


SET IN STONE Not all of the RCSI hospitals are still in operation but their sites remain hugely significant in the built environment, evocative of their 300-year-old teaching and research tradition. Antonia Hart explains


n Ireland, as elsewhere, Eventually, separate institutions developed the care of the sick was to provide the House traditionally provided by of Industr y’s distinct religious orders. As the 17th century gave way to services. These included the the 18th, the increasing Hardwicke Fever Hospital problem of providing for and the Whitworth, as the sick poor, in particular, well as the Richmond. The could no longer be ignored, Richmond prided itself and the establishment of the not just on its progressive first Irish hospitals began. approach, but also on being Initially, they were all in a superb teaching hospital. Dublin. Some were publicly It is no surprise that in funded, like the Foundling the early days some of the Hospital and Workhouse demonstrations students Dr Steevens’ Hospital, founded in 1733, now the Health Service Executive (HSE) administrative headquarters. (1703) in James’s Street, observed were harrowing while other voluntar y in the extreme. In 1825 a hospitals were kickstarted by private legacies and fundraising. Among 14-year-old boy had a portion of his lower jaw removed. He ‘seemed to suffer these were the Charitable Infirmary, later known as Jervis Street (1718), the most severe torture’, newspaper reports noted, and a watching student later wrote that he ‘screamed and struggled’, though he later walked out of Dr Steevens’ (1733), and the Mercer (1734). These were followed by others the room alone, waving away offers of help. The operation was performed like St Patrick’s (1746), for mental health patients, and the Rotunda (1745), by Mr Richard Carmichael, and was so well attended by an eager audience known widely as the first lying-in hospital. Actual medical care was scant of surgeons and students that Carmichael struggled to get sufficient elbow enough, but over these 50 years, the notion of healthcare, and the physical room to work. Just over 25 years later, Mr John MacDonnell read about the embodiment of it, in hospital buildings, had taken root. In 1765, parliament use of ether in a medical journal. The following day he built the necessary enacted groundbreaking legislation providing for the establishment of county infirmaries in 30 of the 32 counties, and the Royal College of Surgeons itself apparatus and tested it on himself, and on the day after he administered came into being in 1784, beginning an association with training and practice ether to Drogheda girl Mary Kane before a successful amputation of her in Irish hospitals which has lasted for nearly 240 years. Not all of the RCSI arm. The following year, Mr John Hamilton amputated a forearm, while hospitals are still in operation, of course, but their sites remain evocative his patient benefited from a chloroform-soaked handkerchief. Doctors at and significant elements of our built environment, and their 300-year-old the Richmond were slow to embrace Sir Joseph Lister’s use of antiseptics, but they were quick to follow Sir Thomas Myles, who availed himself of the teaching and research tradition remains vibrant in today’s medical landscape. Richmond’s kitchen fire, boiling his instruments in a kettle. A marvellous The Richmond Hospital served the population of Dublin for almost 200 years before its closure in 1987. Its origins lay in the House of Industry set up image of surgery in progress survives in the RCSI heritage collections: a in 1773 in Channel Row (now North Brunswick Street), designed to provide detailed photograph of Richmond doctor, Dr Emily Winifred Dickson being accommodation and employment for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. examined performing surgery there in 1896. Dr Dickson was the first female Dr Daniel Rainey offered his services, from the outset, as physician without fellow of the RCSI, and other photographs from the Richmond at that time show her surrounded by male colleagues. any payment, and he helped to establish it as a centre of research and teaching, delivering the hospital’s first paper, on the post-mortem process, in 1775. Apart from its forward-thinking approach to what we now call healthcare, its




“The Charitable Infirmary, Jervis Street. My first exposure to clinical medicine. I’ll never forget the wards, Matron, and the patients’ looks of total trust and confidence in me, the beginning of the true responsibility in medicine as my career.” Dr David Crooks (1989)

liberal and non-denominational outlook, and the 200-year history which resulted in its becoming one of the great teaching hospitals, the Richmond has given us a Dublin landmark. The warm red brick of its broad façade, unexpectedly ornate, with pavilions and arcades, now houses the Richmond Education and Events After services were transferred to the Beaumont Hospital, the Jervis Street Hospital closed in November 1987, and the site of Centre, opened by the Irish Nurses the hospital was redeveloped to create the Jervis Shopping Centre with only the facade of the original hospital remaining. and Midwives Association (INMO) in 2018. the building, now home to a medical library and the heritage collections of Two hundred years of healthcare seems like an impressive heritage, but the College. Fittingly, the Mercer Medical Centre operates as a modern GP the site of Dublin’s Mercer Hospital has been used to treat the sick since at practice on the ground floor, meaning Dubliners can still access healthcare on this old city centre site. least the 13th century, when a leper hospital was operated there. In the early In 1718, six surgeons pooled their private funds to set up the Charitable 18th century, Mary Mercer ran a girls’ shelter on the site, later converting it to a ten-bed hospital. Mary Mercer died soon afterwards, without having Infirmary. When its Inns Quay site had to be given up for the construction of made financial provision for the hospital’s future, but a combination of the Four Courts, the infirmary moved to 14 Jervis Street, the old townhouse fundraising (including one third of proceeds of the première of Handel’s of the Earl of Charlemont. Conveniently, he had packed up and vacated the glorious oratorio Messiah in Fishamble Street in 1742) and gifts enabled premises in favour of the spanking new Charlemont House, the architectural the hospital to continue, and be extended to house 30 patients. Mercer’s, or centrepiece of what was then Rutland Square (now Parnell Square, with the Mercer as it became more commonly known, had to be rebuilt in 1757, Charlemont House now home to the Hugh Lane Gallery). Like the Mercer, the Charitable Infirmary benefited from the proceeds of once the smell from the sewer became so noxious that some of the governors refused to enter the building. the Messiah’s 1742 première, to the tune of £127, and a charitable lottery also The Mercer – like most hospitals – was no stranger to controversy. On top provided £805. These funds made all the difference to the hospital’s survival, of repeated scuffles and stand-offs between staff members around clinical THROUGHOUT THE 19TH CENTURY, THE teaching, the late 19th century saw a protracted inquiry into the behaviour of Mr Edward Stamer O’Grady, the hospital’s senior surgeon. He was accused MERCER REMAINED ONE OF THE MAIN of ‘unbecoming, violent and insulting behaviour’ to the matron and nurses, TEACHING HOSPITALS FOR SURGERY. to the point where the matron resigned, and it became next to impossible to recruit nurses. He was also supposed to have ‘insulted his professional colleagues’, and ‘outraged their feelings’. No-one wanted to work with him, and students complained that he delivered no clinical teaching worth mentioning. The row ALUMNI MEMORIES “Mercer Library was a second house dragged on for ten years, until the Governors ‘evicted him from his surgeoncy’, although he for me, I believe I spent more time in it than home.” continued to visit patients, never mentioning Dr Ahmad Bouskandar (2015) to them that he was no longer on the staff. “You always bumped into someone The irresistibly dramatic details of this you knew, whether dashing to the train HR horror story should not detract from the station, or down Grafton Street. Parties Mercer’s reputation as a teaching hospital. in the Mercer or loud groups in The Swan. ” From the founding of RCSI in nearby York Dr Sarah O’Malley (1992) Street, a close association was inevitable and benefited both organisations. Throughout the 19th century, the Mercer remained one of the main teaching hospitals for surgery. When the Mercer was closed in 1983, RCSI bought and restored Mercer’s Medical Centre opened in 1990 on the site of the old Mercer Hospital.


The original Louth County Hospital was designed by William Smith; St Patrick’s Hospital, not only the first psychiatric hospital in Ireland, but one of the first in the world, still serves its original purpose.

and as a non-Catholic hospital, even after the Sisters of Mercy arrived in 1853 to take charge of nursing at the hospital, it played an important role in the city’s healthcare. Like the Richmond, research and development were core activities in the hospital, and important to its staff members. Heart specialist Sir Dominic Corrigan was appointed physician there about 1830, and although he only had six beds, he had plenty of opportunity to observe the variety of heart and lung conditions that intrigued him: in 1832 he wrote the paper on aortic regurgitation that made him famous. He tended to kindness and reassurance, and was thoughtful of patients’ feelings as well as their illnesses, being ‘careful never to allow a patient to see him looking at his watch’. Jervis Street, as it came to be known, was Dublin’s main emergency hospital, and its doctors and nurses showed their commitment to emergency care beyond the hospital walls. During World War 1, it established a temporary outpost in the form of a Red Cross Emergency Hospital at Dublin Castle, where the converted Throne Room made an airy ward. In April 1916, when violence erupted across the city, all the hospitals were packed, with Jervis Street being the busiest due to its location so close to Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street). The hospital staff coped day and night, on top of their normal work, with 45 fatalities and 550 injured, almost all of them suffering bullet wounds, and the pressure was intensified in the later part of the week by the knowledge that machine guns were trained on the building. Meanwhile, a mobile first aid unit treated patients in the Sackville Street area. Staffed by three Jervis Street doctors, wearing red crosses on white coats, they carried the worst cases to the hospital itself. In 2020, 100 years after Bloody Sunday, Dr John Latham recounted how, as a surgical intern at Jervis Street in 1978, he had carried out an elective procedure on an elderly man with noticeable scarring on his neck. The patient had been in the crowd in Croke Park on 21 November 1920, and the scars were from a machine gun wound. He had been treated at Jervis Street, and as John Latham wrote, ‘he was now lying in the same ward, and at the same end of the ward, facing the same large picture of the Sacred Heart, where he had found himself during the recovery from his bullet wound 58 years previously’. As well as accident and emergency care, Irish hospitals have always played their part in managing public health crises. In recent years, public health policy has been discussed around every breakfast and dinner table in the country, but of course public health crises did not start with COVID-19. They have come in many forms, including epidemics of transmissible diseases, from the 19th-century scourges of cholera and smallpox, through polio and endless variations of influenza. By 1947, tuberculosis represented a significant


THE BEAUTY OF THE BUILDING SPARKED A VOGUE IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD FOR BUILDING IN THE SAME TASTE. public health problem in Ireland, and in an attempt to curb it and incentivise treatment, a new Health Act (the same piece of legislation in which the then health minister Dr Noel Browne sought to introduce the doomed mother and child scheme) introduced a welfare payment to the family for anyone undergoing tuberculosis treatment. This, predictably enough, had the effect of putting sudden pressure on existing services and facilities, and Browne suggested that a Chest Hospital be built to accommodate 250 in-patients. Waterford County Council agreed to carry out this project and provide a hospital with a catchment area taking in Kilkenny, Wexford, Tipperary, Carlow, and Waterford itself. Ardkeen Chest Hospital opened five years later, but by 1959 incidence of tuberculosis was declining and the County Hospital was transferred to Ardkeen. Services and facilities were added, including, in 1965, Ireland’s first psychiatric unit in a general hospital, under the experienced eye of Professor Tom Lynch. In its 21st-century incarnation, University Hospital Waterford has 500 beds and 1,800 staff, and is the busiest hospital outside Dublin. Despite huge changes and its new name, you will still often hear it referred to as Ardkeen. In Dundalk, the name of the county hospital continues not just in common usage, but also on an original plaque on the old building in the town. Louth County Hospital originated as one of the old county infirmaries, actually preceding the 1765 legislation which provided for them. Originally established in 1753, the old infirmary was replaced in 1834 by a neo-Tudor building of red clay brick, with sandstone cloisters, designed by English architect Thomas Smith. William Makepeace Thackeray, never short of an opinion, wrote of his Irish travels in The Irish Sketchbook in 1845, and he had plenty to say about his visits to both the old and the new hospitals. The governors of the new hospital were in a state of ‘no small agitation’ because of criticism that the new build was a waste of money, given that the old one was perfectly fit for 50 patients. Thackeray disagreed. He found the building deeply unpleasant, ‘damp and unwholesome’. He wrote that Smith’s building in the Crescent replaced ‘a small dirty house in a damp and low situation, with but three rooms to accommodate patients, and these evidently not fit to hold fifty, or even fifteen patients’. As to wasted money, in the grand tradition of building projects, Smith’s estimates were lower than the final spend, but the excess on the £3,000 build was only three and sixpence, ‘a wonder of cheapness’ in Thackeray’s view, and anyone’s. The


new hospital was provided ‘with every convenience for men and women, with all the appurtenances of baths, water, gas; airy wards, and a garden for convalescents; and, below, a dispensary, a handsome board-room, kitchen, and matron’s apartments’. He also noted with approval that the beauty of the building had sparked a vogue in the neighbourhood for building in the same taste. The hospital lasted in these elegant new quarters for over 100 years, but in July 1959 a completely new county hospital was opened on the Dublin Road, slightly less of a wonder of cheapness, and more of an overrun, at half a million pounds, but similarly purpose-built. The new hospital flourished, and Smith’s lovely building was left to decay until the 1980s, when the county council did battle against dry rot, carried out some restoration work, and began to use it as office space for planning and motor tax. As the century turned again, the nearby Dundalk Grammar School, founded even earlier than the original infirmary, bought the building to convert for use as a boarding-house for pupils, and so now it is full of people and beds again. The facade still bears the old name ‘Louth Hospital’. Louth County Hospital has had some services cut back in recent years, including the accident and emergency department, now replaced by a minor injuries clinic, and significant reductions in maternity services. Patients in need of these services now go to Drogheda, to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, recently designated the acute hospital for the north-east. Our Lady of Lourdes was opened in 1955, shortly before the new Louth County Hospital. It was founded by the Catholic congregation the Medical Missionaries of Mary, as a missionary training hospital, and maintained a strong Catholic ethos. As everywhere, modernisation is sought throughout the now 340-bed hospital. A large expansion project in 2019 saw the hospital shortlisted for several architectural awards, and in recent years there have been discussions about changing the name to something more secular, reflecting the fact that it is no longer owned by the order, and the changing nature of the provision of healthcare in the State. In the 1970s, preparations began to replace older hospitals like the Richmond and Jervis Street with a large modern hospital, and in 1987, Beaumont opened. It was built about 5km from the city centre, in Glasnevin, and as the chairman of the Board, Niall Weldon, wrote in 1992, its primary purpose was as an acute public hospital and teaching institution. In its first year, Rory O’Hanlon, then

Minister for Health, commissioned the hospital to run a pilot development scheme, modelling its organisational structure and IT systems, introducing ALUMNI MEMORIES “Running for the 16A bus to a new era of structured make it to Prof Hill’s early monitoring and evaluating ward round at Beaumont.” cost-effectiveness and Dr Mohomed Vahedna (2011) efficiency. It was an optimistic start, but within five years serious challenges arose, bringing public scrutiny in the shape Beaumont Hospital of a ministerial Committee of Inquiry, and Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry. Beaumont had been envisaged as a lean, economical, progressive organisation, in the vanguard of the country’s mo dernising health ser vice. It had also inherited a long tradition of pioneering healthcare The Rotunda Hospital has provided an unbroken service from both the Richmond to women and babies since its foundation in 1745 and has and Jervis Street, and it occupied its present premises since 1757. ran with this tradition, making research and ALUMNI MEMORIES innovation central to its

“Hospital days in Drogheda ethos. It is now the main with Mr Sheehan (surgeon) teaching hospital of the we were the first students to University, and the Smurfit attend the Drogheda hospital.” Dr Solly Gardee (1969) Building, opened in 2000 (and significantly extended in 2018), is home to Ireland’s first clinical research centre on a hospital site. Beaumont Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda is a huge operation, with 820 beds and 3,000 staff, offering acute care over 54 medical specialties. It is ALUMNI MEMORIES “Eating chips in the old the National Referral Centre for Neurosurgery, Renal and doctors’ res in the Richmond after A&E was cleared at 3am.” Pancreatic Transplantation Dr Aidan Ward (1977) and Cochlear Implantation. This large-scale contemporary hospital would be a wonder to those who, in the early 18th century, opened the first Irish hospitals, funded on a wing and a prayer, based on the convictions that caring for the sick is fundamental to the way The Richmond Hospital is now home to we live, and that effective training as a doctor the INMO Education and Events Centre. requires observation of medicine in action, and hands-on experience. The legacy we enjoy 300 years later is the great teaching and research complexities of human health has been transmitted tradition of these hospitals, and the fact that their through the centuries to the newest hospitals and commitment to mapping new paths through the modern medical practice. ■


CLASS CALL At RCSI, we love to hear news about your career achievements and information about you and your life after University. Find out what some of your classmates have been doing


■ DR E CHIN MAK (MEDICINE, 2020) Since virtual graduation in 2020, Dr E Chin Mak has undertaken an emergency medicine residency in Ohio. A member of the hospital’s ethics committee, she recently received the 2021 Trauma Surgery Compassion Award. While working hard, playing hard is also important, and she was a member of the winning team in the 2021 Midwest Medical Wilderness Adventure Race (MedWARS) competition. She is looking forward to completing this residency in June 2023 with tentative plans to obtain a hospice and palliative care fellowship in the future.


Dr E Chin Mak ■ DR TURKI AL-AHBABI (MEDICINE, 2012) Dr Turki Al-Ahbabi is a consultant at Hamad General Hospital and the first ever Qatari doctor to finish a fellowship in, and specialise in, bariatric medicine. ■ DR MOIRA SARAH SELKE (MEDICINE, 2012) Dr Moira Sarah Selke (Pantelidis) works as an attending physician at Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, serving the Ontario population with myalgic encephalomyelitis/ chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). She is a member of the Canada-wide research network ICanCME, with the goal to significantly improve care for those with ME in in Canada and the rest of the world. Dr Selke and her husband Frank also have a busy home life with three young daughters. ■ ÁINE O’KEEFFE (PHARMACY, 2013) After five years as a pharmacist at St James’s Hospital Dublin, Áine swapped Ireland for the west coast of Dr Turki Al-Ahbabi Canada to explore new opportunities in Vancouver, British Columbia. Joining BC Cancer as a Clinical Pharmacy Informatics Specialist, she had a leading role in the implementation of electronic chemotherapy ordering at the BC Cancer centre and recently supported the launch of electronic prescribing in paediatric oncology at BC Children’s Hospital. ■ DR OMAR EL KAWKGI (MEDICINE, 2015) Since graduation, Dr El Kawkgi completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Massachusetts, Baystate, and an endocrinology fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. In July 2021, he joined the Mayo Clinic as a consultant endocrinologist and was promoted to Assistant Professor of Medicine. He is currently working on clinical research to develop clinical tools to individualise therapy in Graves’ disease and other thyroid conditions. Dr El Kawkgi is a scientific reviewer for the BMJ Case Reports and Thyroid Journal and is an active member of the Ms Áine O’Keeffe American Thyroid Association. He is married and has two children.


Dr Omar El Kawkgi Ms Mumi Hossain with her husband Ruairi


■ DR SHAZIA SAMANANI (MEDICINE, 2015) Dr Samanani completed her residency training in internal medicine in Massachusetts, as well as geriatrics and internal medicine fellowships at the University of Toronto. She worked in general internal medicine as an Academic Hospitalist Attending and lecturer for the University of Toronto and completed her Masters in Medical Education at the University of Dundee. Dr Samanani has just accepted a position at George Washington University in Washington DC as an Assistant Professor and Academic Attending working closely with the GW Internal Medicine Residency Programme. ■ DR FEDJA ROCHLING (MEDICINE, 1989), DR FARUQ PRADHAN (MEDICINE, 2014) and DR MUHANNAD ABBASI (MEDICINE, 2018) In July 2021, for the very first time, three RCSI alumni – Dr Faruq Pradhan, Dr Muhannad Abbasi and Dr Fedja Rochling – staffed the Hepatology Outpatient Clinic at the Nebraska Medical Centre. Almost 7,000km from St Stephen’s Green, it is great to see three alumni flying the flag for RCSI! ■ DR SIMRAAJ KAUR POWAR (MEDICINE, 2018) Congratulations to Dr Simraaj Kaur Powar on her marriage to Mr Ramendeep Singh Minhas. The couple married in July 2021 in a Sikh Anand Karaj ceremony and are excited to continue their lives together and develop their respective professional careers in Ontario, Canada. ■ DR ANDREA TOU (MEDICINE, 2019) Dr Andrea Tou is graduating from the pediatrics residency programme at the Children’s Hospital at DartmouthHitchcock, and was recently accepted as a Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition fellow at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania (Perelman School of Medicine), which this year was ranked as the top pediatric programme in the US.


■ DR DOUGLAS MONROE (MEDICINE, 2005) and DR MARIA GULE-MONROE (MEDICINE, 2005) Dr Doug Monroe recently founded Healthcare Advisory Collaborative, a healthcare management consulting firm focusing on clinical quality and physician engagement. Dr Maria GuleMonroe is an Associate Professor of Neuroradiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Medical Director of Woodlands MD Anderson. Maria and Doug send their good wishes to all their friends around the world. ■ DR ZUBIN DARUWALLA (MEDICINE, 2005) Dr Zubin Daruwalla brings a global perspective to his role as PwC Singapore’s Health Industries Leader while also balancing his commitments as a clinician and family man. He is passionate about the New Health Economy (NHE). ■ DR GABRIEL BIETZ (MEDICINE, 2006) Dr Amita Kumar, wife of Dr Gabriel Bietz, shared the news that Dr Bietz has written a children’s book, The Adventures of Arya and Krishna Betta Fish, which began life as a bedtime story for their children Arya and Krishna. ■ DR PHILIP J O’HALLORAN (MEDICINE, 2008) Dr Philip J O’Halloran was the recipient of the Rooney Concussion Fellowship, established in honour of the late American Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney. The two-year fellowship will take Dr O’Halloran to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to develop baseline clinical knowledge of concussions, as well as studying clinical research methods. On his return he will work with Dr Helen French and Louise Keating in the RCSI School of Physiotherapy and across the UPMC Concussion Network in Ireland.

Dr Fedja Rochling, Dr Faruq Pradhan and Dr Muhannad Abbasi

Mr Ramendeep Singh Minhas and Dr Simraaj Kaur Powar

Dr Shazia Samanani

Dr Zubin Daruwalla

Dr Andrea Tou Dr Doug Monroe and Dr Maria Gule-Monroe with their children.

Dr Amita Kumara and Dr Gabriel Bietz

Dr Philip O’Halloran



■ DR RACHEL KIDNEY (MEDICINE, 1991) Dr Rachel Kidney, a consultant in St James’s Hospital who took early retirement in 2019 due to ill health, gave an interview to RCSI last year about the sense of grief experienced upon retirement, how sea swimming helped her to adjust and the benefits of taking time to be present on a daily basis. ■ PROFESSOR MARK SHERLOCK (MEDICINE, 2000) Professor Mark Sherlock has been appointed Director of the RCSI Clinical Research Centre, following the retirement of Professor Dermot Kenny. Announcing the appointment, Professor Fergal J O’Brien said: “I have no doubt that Professor Sherlock, together with the excellent and dedicated CRC staff, will deliver our ambition in growing the number of impactful trials in our core clinical areas, facilitate established and emerging investigators to lead clinical trials and expand our education programmes in clinical trial management.” ■ DR SHARMILA SACHITHANANDAN (MEDICINE, 1993) and PROFESSOR FERGA GLEESON (MEDICINE, 1995) International Women’s Day is celebrated globally on 8 March, an opportunity to acknowledge the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year, Dr Sharmila Sachithanandan and Professor Ferga Gleeson produced a short video recognising 22 women from around the world practicing in the fields of gastroenterology and hepatology, including four RCSI alumnae. ■ DR ANDREW BAKER (MEDICINE, 1993) Colonel Andrew Baker is currently serving as a medical officer with the UN in Cyprus, responsible for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations for UN troops. Colonel Baker has served in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and NE Nigeria. Proud of his heritage, Colonel Baker has kept an important keepsake of his time at RCSI: a pair of rugby shorts from his time representing the University on a trip to France still accompanies him on operational tours. Although far from home, he is in regular contact with the Garda Síochána who provide some policing to the UN so he is never too far away from a familiar accent! ■ DR RONAN KELLY (MEDICINE, 1998) Dr Ronan Kelly was the lead author on a groundbreaking study into treatment for gastroesophageal cancer. Dr Kelly, who is Director of the Charles A Sammons Cancer Center and the WW Caruth Jr Endowed Chair of Immunology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and his team, discovered that the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab doubled disease-free survival times for those with operable oesophageal or Professor Mark Sherlock gastroesophageal junction tumours and lowered the risk of recurrence of death by almost a third, with the results being referred to as the first true advance for post-surgical treatment of these conditions. You can read more about the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.


Dr Rachel Kidney

Professor Ferga Gleeson, Dr Sharmila Sachinathanandan and Elizabeth Rajan

Colonel Dr Andrew Baker

Dr Ronan Kelly



■ DR PHILIP WIEHE (MEDICINE, 1980) Thanks to Dr Philip Wiehe for taking the time to send us a great update about his team working with six RCSI student volunteers at COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Dublin. Dr Wiehe described the help provided by the six students, who ranged from second to final year, as “invaluable”. ■ DR RICHARD NORA (MEDICINE, 1980) Dr Richard Nora was recently interviewed in Alumni eNews where he shared stories about his time at RCSI and spoke about his life currently. He is married to Lucille and – although he is semi-retired – he splits his time between teaching and minding his grandchildren. ■ DR DERMOT O’HARA (MEDICINE, 1981) Dr Dermot Dr Philip Wiehe’s volunteer team O’Hara worked as a GP for 26 years until he retired in 2015. Now he is enjoying learning German and skiing in his spare time. ■ PROFESSOR CAMILLA CARROLL (MEDICINE, 1985) Professor Carroll was editor of the first Global Surgery Edition of the Journal of RCSI and RCSEd, The Surgeon, which brought together many of the stakeholders involved in addressing the issues of unmet surgical need in low- to middle-income countries. The College of Subsaharan East and Central Africa and South Africa (COSECSA) discussed the success of their surgical education and training programme in partnership with RCSI. The NHS Scotland Global Citizenship Programme was highlighted in an article by Stuart Fergusson who wrote about his personal experience in Malawi and how the Global Citizenship Programme demonstrates best practice when it comes to integrating surgical training between high-income and low-income countries, for the benefit of patients in both jurisdictions. Professor Sharma discussed the experience of surgeons working in India who are delivering sustainable surgical innovation and the utility of technological advances in LMICs. The American College of Dr Emma Meagher Surgeons presented their “Giving Back Program” and their role in mentoring Women in Surgery in Africa. Professor Carroll suggests alumni take time to read this publication, especially if you are interested in becoming a Global Surgery advocate, and strongly encourages you to stay connected to the RCSI Global Community. ■ DR EMMA MEAGHER (MEDICINE, 1987) Dr Emma Meagher, Vice-Dean and Chief Clinical Research Officer at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, has taken up a new role as Vice-President of Clinical Research. In her new role, Emma will develop and implement a research strategy throughout the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and lead the integration and alignment of clinical research and clinical practice across the health system. ■ DR NADEEM MOGHAL (MEDICINE, 1989) In 2018, Dr Nadeem Moghal shared his account of overcoming cancer with his fellow alumni. This year, Dr Moghal shared his Dr Nadeem Moghal with his partner journey of recovery, his decision to retire early – sort of – and Gertrud Buerstedde (Medicine, 1989). his experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Camilla Carrroll



■ DR TONY DUCKER (MEDICINE, 1970) Dr Ducker is married with three children and five grandchildren and has lived in Devon, England since his retirement in 2006, pursuing his interests in photography and walking. He worked in various junior jobs in the NHS before spending five years as a lecturer in the Department of Child Life and Health at St George’s Medical School and 22 years as consultant neonatal paediatrician in Kent. He also served on various hospital and regional and national committees including a National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guideline group. Dr Ducker was a member of the Territorial Army for 27 years, including five years as commanding officer of 220 Field Ambulance in Maidstone. He has worked as Lead Clinician for the appraisal of neonatal units in East and South West England and served as a governor at the Royal Exeter and Devon NHS Foundation Trust. ■ DR MICHAEL ROSEN (MEDICINE, 1970) Dr Michael Rosen shared a photo of himself and his wife alongside four of his fellow classmates from the class of 1970 – Dr Bryn John, Dr Rodney Wade-Thomas, Dr John Doherty and Dr Michael Parker, with their partners on a trip to Portmeirion in North Wales. Dr Rosen described how they “reminisced over wine and food and with great camaraderie!” A wonderful testament to the strong links between RCSI alumni. ■ DR NIZAR LADHA (MEDICINE, 1972) Dr Nizar Ladha will be 50 years in medical practice in Newfoundland and Labrador – and will celebrate his 80th birthday – this year. He retired from the Psychiatry department of Memorial University some years ago and now practises privately. ■ DR BOBBY BRAUNSTEIN (MEDICINE, 1972) Dr Bobby Braunstein spent time teaching in China, where his interest was piqued by an article about the history of Jewish people in the country, and in particular a reference to a European Jewish doctor who became a general in Mao’s Revolutionary Army. His research inspired him to write Luo Shente, a screenplay about the doctor and the events of this period, for which he was awarded a London Independent Story Prize for Feature Screenplay. ■ PROFESSOR CAROLINE DE COSTA (MEDICINE, 1973) Professor Caroline de Costa has led a fascinating life and has had an equally interesting career as a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The first Australian to study at RCSI and a trailblazer in women’s health and reproductive rights, she recently memorialised her life and career experiences in The Women’s Doc – a witty, wonderful read. ■ DR JAN LANGE (MEDICINE, 1977) Dr Jan Lange retired three years ago after nearly 40 years of family practice and 20 years as a medical director in Yakima, Washington. Married for 53 years to Cherri, he has two daughters who were both born in Dublin when he was a student at RCSI, and five grandchildren. ■ DR SAAD HABBA (MEDICINE, 1978) Dr Saad Habba was honoured with the Grand Cross of the Order of Malta in June 2021. The honour was bestowed on him by the Sovereign Order of Malta and is the highest designation of the Order of Malta. ■ PROFESSOR MANAF ALQAHTANI (MEDICINE, 1999) In recognition of his various contributions, including research impact at national and global level, for the past two years, Professor Manaf Alqahtani, Clinical Professor in Microbiology, was presented with a Special Recognition Award during the RCSI Bahrain Annual Staff Awards ceremony. With the onset of the pandemic


Dr Tony Ducker

Dr Bobby Braunstein

Dr Michael Rosen and classmates

Dr Nizar Ladha

Dr Saad Habba and his wife Janan

Professor Manaf Alqahtani receives his award at RCSI Bahrain.

Professor Caroline de Costa


in 2020 and through his role as a member of the Bahrain National Taskforce for Combating the Coronavirus, Professor Alqahtani has completed a total of 43 research projects related to COVID-19 in Bahrain, of which 20 were conducted in collaboration with RCSI Bahrain faculty, alumni and students, with a focus on epidemiology and public health, diagnostics, vaccines and clinical and treatment projects.


■ DR DAVID BARNES (MEDICINE, 1965) In his 60th year delivering babies, Dr David Barnes was promoted to adjunct professor at WVU (West Virginia University). He boasts that he never had a surgery nor a serious illness (except two days of COVID-19!) and found time last winter to downhill ski and mountain hike with fellow octogenarians. He has signed up to celebrate his 85th birthday by doing his 21st marathon. His third book, COVID for Children and Others, comes out soon. He is looking forward to seeing fellow alumni at the Alumni Gathering in August and sends his best wishes to all.

Dr David Barnes and family


INSPIRING EXCELLENCE AWARD Congratulations to Class of 2013 graduate, Dr Ali Abdulnabi Mohamed, who was selected as the recipient of the Inspiring Excellence awards for 2021. Dr Mohamed was selected from a shortlist of outstanding candidates and his portrait will now be added alongside those of previous winners on the walls of the main campus building.

Dr Ali Abdulnabi Mohamed

Dr Hajar Abdulla

HH STEWART MEDICAL SCHOLARSHIP 2021 graduate Dr Hajar Abdulla recently became the latest in a line of RCSI Bahrain representatives to be recognised in the annual National University of Ireland (NUI) awards. Currently completing her internship at Salmaniya Medical Complex, Dr Abdulla was awarded third prize in the Dr HH Stewart Medical Scholarship in Anaesthesia.

Dr Nicholyn Selvanayagam

GRADUATES MAKING WAVES AT DALHOUSIE Two Medicine graduates of RCSI Bahrain are currently making their presence felt at Dalhousie University in Canada. Dr Nicholyn Selvanayagam and Dr Fares Alfares were awarded the titles of Program Chief Resident of Family Medicine and Pediatrics Resident Teacher of the Year respectively.

Dr Rand Bashar Abdulrahman

Dr Fares Alfares


Congratulations to 2020 graduate, Dr Rand Bashar Abdulrahman, who was named as the winner of the annual Intern Award for 2021. Dr Abdulrahman was selected from a competitive group of applicants this year, after completing her internship at King Hamad University Hospital (KHUH). ■



Dr Barbara Murphy, MD, MB, BAO, BCh, FRCPI (1964-2021)

Alumna Dr Barbara T Murphy (Class of 1989) was the Murray M Rosenberg Professor of Medicine, Chair of the Department of Medicine and Dean for Clinical Integration and Population Health at Mount Sinai in New York, and a world leader in treating and researching kidney disease and transplant immunology


r Barbara Murphy, world-renowned transplant nephrologist, scientist and trailblazer, passed away on June 30, 2021, at the age of 56. Barbara’s professional achievements in her too-short life were remarkable. Outside of work, she shared a rich life with her husband, New Yorker Peter Fogarty, and was a devoted mother to her young son, Gavin. Her charm, wit, sense of fun and direct approach disarmed everyone she met. Her extraordinary career and vital work had a deep and lasting impact on patients, colleagues, friends and mentees throughout the Mount Sinai Health System, the wider medical community in the US and globally in the nephrology community.


Barbara was inspired to pursue a career when as an undergraduate at RCSI, she met a young patient, just a few years younger than she was at the time, who was suffering from kidney failure. As she explained in an interview in 2016 with Irish America magazine: “I saw her on dialysis when I was a medical student, then I saw her when she got her kidney transplant, and then I saw her as a renal registrar – I saw her all the way through.” The young woman went on to become a teacher. Witnessing the life-changing impact of that transplant, Barbara set her course: a fellowship in clinical nephrology at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, then postdoctoral training with a fellowship in nephrology at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Years earlier, Barbara had set her heart on Harvard when, on a J-1 summer visa to Boston, she took the wrong bus and wound up taking a detour through


the Harvard Medical School campus, buying her first stethoscope in the medical supply shop there. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Barbara trained in transplant immunology at the Laboratory of Immunogenetics and Transplantation. She was recruited to Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York as Director of Transplant Nephrology in 1997 and in 2003, was named Chief of the Division of Nephrology, one of the youngest division chiefs in the US. In 2012, Barbara was named Chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine and just one year later, after Mount Sinai merged with another hospital system to form the Mount Sinai Health System, an amalgam of seven hospitals and more than 2,000 faculty, Barbara served as Chair of Medicine and also Dean for Clinical Integration and Population Health. Due to Barbara’s significant administrative roles and her international leadership in research in the field of genomics in transplantation, she was unable to maintain her clinical work, something she said she missed terribly. Inside the Murphy laboratory at the Icahn School of Medicine, New York. However, everything she did outside of her clinical work was patient-focused. She placed great emphasis on a coordinated approach in organ transplantation. Catherine says: “As well as to patient care, thus making it easier for patients to being a wonderful clinician and a great researcher and navigate the medical system and facilitating clinical administrator, Barbara was also a gifted businesswoman.” and translational research. Much of Barbara’s career was spent advocating for those HER WORK ON Her research was to benefit patients directly. Using disadvantaged with no access to kidney transplantation, GENE EXPRESSION high-throughput genomic technologies to understand such as HIV patients. Her groundbreaking discoveries the immune mechanisms leading to graft injury and loss, led to transplantation in HIV-positive patients becoming PROFILING TO HELP she followed transplant patients for two years, doing standard of care. No stranger to the corridors of power in PREDICT PATIENTS’ serial biopsies, drawing blood, tracking their progress Washington DC, she lobbied for extended drug coverage RISK FOR REJECTION for transplant recipients. More recently, while New York to identify a set of genes that predicted which patients would develop disease and suffer a decline in function City was the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in AND DISEASE so their immunosuppression could be managed in a early 2020, her leadership in developing a workforce HAD SIGNIFICANT more personalised way. Her work on gene expression redeployment strategy allowed Mount Sinai to treat more IMPLICATIONS, NOT patients. She was also integral to the establishment of the profiling to help predict patients’ risk for rejection and disease had significant implications, not only for kidney Centre for Post-COVID Care at Mount Sinai. Among ONLY FOR KIDNEY transplantation but for all organ transplantation. many honours, she was named one of the Crain’s New York TRANSPLANTATION Since they met in Harvard in 1994, Professor “Notable Women in Health Care” in 2018. She received BUT FOR ALL ORGAN the distinguished Jacobi Medallion in 2014. In 2011, she Catherine Godson PhD MRIA, of the Diabetes Complications Research Centre at University College TRANSPLANTATION. was named Nephrologist of the Year by the American Dublin, and Barbara were lifelong friends. They were Kidney Fund. In 2005, Barbara was awarded the Irene introduced to each other at Harvard by fellow Dubliner, and Dr Arthur M Fishberg Professorship of Medicine at Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College the Mount Sinai Hospital. She received honorary doctoral London. The three would gather for Thanksgiving and celebrate Christmas degrees from a number of universities and medical schools including her together in Boston. When Catherine returned to Ireland, both she and Barbara alma mater, RCSI. maintained regular contact and went on to collaborate in developing some of Throughout her career, Barbara was a champion of diversity and inclusion. the analytical tools to predict progression of kidney disease. Before her death, As an immigrant to the US, receiving her Green Card through the Diversity Barbara had asked if Catherine would speak at her memorial. This took place Immigrant Visa Lottery programme, she was an avid supporter of immigrant in Westchester County, New York in April. Catherine remembers Barbara’s rights and worked to improve access to care for immigrants with kidney disease immense enthusiasm and energy: “Barbara took everything in her big long as well as training and employment opportunities for immigrant trainees. stride, her scarf swinging. She knew everybody, was super-efficient, superpositive. She was fantastically supportive of all her colleagues, and particularly BACK TO THE BEGINNING so of her Irish colleagues. We are all devastated by her loss.” Some clue to Barbara’s success may lie in the incredible work ethic instilled In addition to her roles within the health system, Barbara was appointed by her parents at an early age. Barbara’s brother Professor Kieran Murphy, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for RenalytixAI, an artificial intelligenceProfessor of Interventional Neuroradiology, University Health Network, enabled in vitro diagnostics company that seeks to improve chronic kidney Ontario, Canada recalls their empowering upbringing in Knocklyon, on Dublin’s disease detection, management and treatment. In 2020, she co-founded southside, with their sister, occupational medicine clinician Dr Céline Murphy. Verici Dx, a pioneering company focused on advanced clinical diagnostics “Our dad, John had an airfreight company and our mother, Anne designed


“BARBARA DISPLAYED THE INABILITY TO TOLERATE UNREASONABLE AUTHORITY: “SHE WOULD JUST SAY, ‘BUT, THAT’S NOT RIGHT’ AND GO AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.” bridal wear. Dad was very quiet but quite brilliant, one of the most widely read people I’ve met; Mum’s attitude was that while there may not have been many female role models in medicine at the time, it was as important for her daughters to have a career as it was for her son to cook! Barbara said she was her role model. We would watch current affairs programmes on RTÉ, then sit at the dinner table and discuss stuff. Our aunts and uncles and grandfathers were politically engaged, and we were inspired by people like Noel Browne, Jonathan Miller and Anthony Clare. We were encouraged to use the public library system, to pursue knowledge and to believe that if we set our minds to it, we could achieve anything.” Kieran believes that Barbara displayed the trait that so many Irish people share, the inability to tolerate unreasonable authority: “She would just say, ‘But, that’s not right’ and go and do something about it.” He also attributes her ability as a researcher to another Irish characteristic: “We Irish are only concerned with what we do badly, not what we do well – this is something that makes you a good researcher.” Barbara recognised no boundaries to her work life, according to Kieran. Work and weekends were a continuum, and airplane flights were academic time. “She would go on a twelve-hour flight and work all the way, she would

Dr Barbara T Murphy and Peter Fogarty


get a lot done and still be fresh. Barbara found the joy of discovery very powerful and energising.” In 2020, prior to her illness, Barbara was appointed President Elect of the American Society of Nephrology (ASN). At Barbara’s behest, Catherine Godson will chair the ASN conference in Orlando in October. In 2021, Barbara was named posthumously as the recipient of the ASN Trailblazer Award, a lifetime achievement award for her work on advocacy, mentorship, and breaking barriers in nephrology and medicine. “It is so not the way it’s meant to be,” says Catherine. Barbara was the last of the three Murphy siblings to start at RCSI, though at one point all three were simultaneously in medical school. It was at RCSI where GP Dr Katrina McCrory Costello (Class of 1989) first met Barbara in pre-med. “She

Barbara, her son Gavin and brother Kieran

Barbara and Kieran

was strong and independent and had a firm values system,” says Katrina. “We went on our J-1 summer trip to Boston together, and Greek island-hopping after our final exams and on a trip to Egypt while we were both training in Beaumont.” They continued to see a lot of each other when they both moved to the US, Barbara visiting Katrina in Baltimore and Katrina visiting Barbara and Peter’s Westchester home or their vacation place in New Hampshire. Barbara was a bridesmaid at Katrina’s wedding to Professor Richard Costello, also a great friend of Barbara. “We really valued the times we could meet, she knew my sons, I got to know her son, Gavin. No matter how important the work she did, Barbara always said Gavin was the biggest achievement in her life, and she was so appreciative of how Peter supported her so she could be a devoted mother and remain committed to her work.” “The beauty of RCSI is that we are all still in contact with our peers and the wider RCSI family,” says Kieran. “It was RCSI that opened our eyes to global health. Barbara worked in a refugee camp on the border between Thailand and Cambodia. She and her colleagues had to leave the camp at night because of the danger of attacks by the Khmer Rouge. Barbara’s belief that we are on this earth for a reason and here for a purpose inspired a lot of people,” explains Kieran. “This is how Barbara lived her life.” ■

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LEAVE A LASTING LEGACY THAT WILL TRA NSFORM LIVES By leaving a gift in your will to RCSI or making a gift in memory of a loved one, you can help shape the future of medicine and patient care If you would like further information on legacy giving please call Aíne Gibbons, Director of Development on +353 (1) 402 5189, or email ainegibbons@rcsi.ie