Professor Rose Anne Kenny appointed first ever female Regius Professor of Physic (1637) at Trinity

Posted on: 31 July 2023

An event to mark Professor Kenny’s appointment also celebrated the School of Medicine’s female ‘full professors’

Professor Rose Anne Kenny appointed first ever female Regius Professor of Physic (1637) at Trinity

Photograph from left to right: Full time professors at the School of Medicine: Blanaid Daly, Susan Smith, Dame Regius Louise Robinson (Newcastle University), Cliona O'Farrelly, Ursula Fearon, Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny, Juliette Hussey, Maeve Lowery and Eleanor Molloy.

The School of Medicine, Trinity College and Head of School Professor Colin Doherty recently celebrated the Schools’ female full professors and marked the appointment of the first ever female Regius Professorship of Physic (1637) at Trinity College Dublin, Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny.

Professor Kenny becomes the first female physician to take the prestigious seat, which has been held by 23 prior distinguished professors over the centuries including the famous John Stearne, William Stokes and Victor Synge. It was awarded first to Dr John Stearne (1662), best known as the founder of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.

The Regius Professorship of Physic is the oldest professorship in Ireland and one of the oldest Medical Professorships in Europe (the Latin, Physic, referring to the art or practice of healing disease). The seat, dating from 1637, was the fifth Regius professorship created after Aberdeen (1497), Cambridge (1540) Oxford (1546) and Edinburgh (1637). It is an honorary appointment in recognition of outstanding scholarship in teaching and research in medicine.

Rose Anne Kenny already holds the Chair of Medical Gerontology (2006), is Fellow (2007) at Trinity College Dublin, Consultant Physician at St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, and is well known as founding Principal Investigator of the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA).

At the full day event, which took place in the Tercentenary Hall of Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, all full professors who are physician scientists or scientists from the school were invited to give an overview of their careers, research and education, in light of the challenges and opportunities of being a female clinician scientist.

The opening address was given by Senator Mary Henry and the event was chaired by Blanaid Daly, Professor of Special Care Dentistry.  Professor Colin Doherty was also delighted to welcome Dame Regius Louise Robinson, Professor of Primary Care and Ageing (Newcastle University) as the first speaker and one of only two female Regius Professors in the UK and Ireland.  

The Trinity female full professors who presented on the day were Maeve Lowery, Professor of Translational Cancer Medicine, Susan Smith, Professor of General Practice, Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology, Juliette Hussey, Professor of Cancer Rehabilitation and Survivorship, Cliona O’Farrelly, Professor of Comparative Immunology, Eleanor Molloy, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, Ursula Fearon, Professor of Rheumatology and notably, Regius Rose Anne Kenny, Professor of Medical Gerontology, who received a standing ovation.

Four other full professors who could attend the event are Aideen Long, Professor of Translational Medicine, Deirdre Murphy, Professor of Obstetrics, Louise Gallagher, Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Vice Provost Orla Sheils, Professor in Molecular Diagnostics.

Following the event, Regius Professor Rose Anne Kenny said:

“It was an honour to celebrate our female Full Professors and Physician Scientists in the School of Medicine alongside the Regius professorship. The quality of work presented was stunning, and I particularly enjoyed knowing more about these great colleagues. Such events are so important in recognising and celebrating women in our Trinity community and those who support them. I look forward to seeing this momentum grow.”

Professor Colin Doherty, Head of School noted:

“This was a unique event in our calendar and one that we will continue to celebrate. Despite a 400-year history, the School of Medicine at Trinity College Dublin, for various historic, social and indefensible reasons, has only grown the female talent amongst our female academics over the last 30-40 years. It was particularly fitting to join this event with a celebration of the appointment of the first female Regius Professor of Physic, Regius Rose Anne Kenny in Trinity.

Today was a recognition of the past opportunity costs and a celebration of the promise of future success of this fantastic group of clinicians and researchers. I want to thank Dame Regius Louise Robinson, one of only 3 Regius Professors along with Regius Kenny who graced us with her presence for the event.”


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