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Professor Tom Connor (1971-2013)
B.Sc. N.U.I., M.A., Ph.D. N.U.I., F.T.C.D. (2007)

Professor Tom ConnorOur colleague and friend, Professor Tom Connor, passed away on 26th February 2013 after a long illness fought with immense bravery and dignity.

Tom was appointed to Lectureship in the Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, Trinity College Dublin in 2002.  He had spent 13 highly-successful years at NUI Galway, where his prodigious abilities as a researcher first became apparent. Tom graduated with first class honours in Biochemistry in 1993, having been awarded several student prizes, and completed his PhD in Neuropharmacology in 1998 in the laboratory of Prof. Brian Leonard. A Health Research Board Fellowship enabled him to conduct postdoctoral research at NUI Galway, during which time he continued to carve his own research niche. It was at this point in his career that he joined the Trinity College community as a Lecturer in Neuroscience. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2007 and to Associate Professor (now Professor) in 2010.

During his 11 short years as a staff member, Tom made an incredible impact on the Department, School and College. His main duty following his appointment was to establish a moderatorship in Neuroscience as part of the TR071 Science degree.  This was a difficult undertaking, requiring Tom to coordinate a group of academics from different Departments, Schools and Faculties at short notice with the aim of constructing a high-quality honours degree programme. That he achieved this feat in such a short space of time and with such success is testament to his skills as an educator, organiser and communicator. During his time with us, Tom also established the MSc in Neuroscience, which has grown from strength to strength and was awarded the accolade ‘Best Postgraduate Science Course in Ireland’ in 2012. He taught a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate students in science, medicine and allied health sciences. His knowledge and experience, coupled with his innate enthusiasm and ability to communicate made him an effective and popular lecturer.  His student-centred ethos is also evident in his role as a College Tutor (2003-2009) which he carried out with compassion, understanding and wisdom.

Tom was particularly proud of his election to Fellowship in 2007 and served on the Standing Committee of the Fellows from 2008 to 2011. His many other contributions to College and the community include his membership of Council (2011-2013), Directorship of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning, School of Medicine (2008-2010), Strand Leadership of the Dublin Region Higher Education Alliance (2008-2011) and membership of many College committees dedicated to teaching and research.

That Tom achieved all of these successes while leading a thriving research group highlights his energy and his commitment to scientific discovery. He enjoyed an international reputation in the field of neuroinflammation, exemplified by his role as local organiser of the 17th annual meeting of the international PsychoNeuroImmunology Research Society, held in College in 2010.  He was invited to give research talks across the globe and regularly acted as an expert reviewer for research journals and funding agencies. Nationally, he was a former President of Neuroscience Ireland and was a key member of the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, chairing the PI committee for several years. Tom was awarded research funding from Science Foundation Ireland, the Health Research Board, Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology and the European Union.  He supervised 14 PhD students during his time in Trinity, and many MSc and undergraduate research students.  His published works number over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and over 100 meeting abstracts. His prolific publication list continued to grow throughout his illness; indeed he submitted 2 manuscripts for review merely 2 weeks before his death. His scientific legacy is remarkable and will continue via the many researchers he has trained and the many contributions he made to his field.

Tom’s students and colleagues in the Department of Physiology and throughout College are deeply grieved by our loss. We have lost an exceptional academic and, more importantly, a wonderful person who was kind, considerate and respectful to everyone he met. We are very fortunate to have worked with him, been taught by him, mentored by him, befriended by him and inspired by him. He will be greatly missed.


Last updated 23 November 2016 Physiology (Email).