Tercentenary Alumni Gala Celebration

School of Medicine Dinner
Saturday, 26 August 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Friends and Alumni,

It’s my great pleasure to be here tonight, welcoming you to this Tercentenary Alumni dinner.

It’s a wonderful occasion and a wonderful turnout.

Gathered here in the Dining Hall are around 250 graduates with their families. Many have come from far afield: from Nigeria, India, Australia, Norway, Singapore, Canada and other countries.

But Medicine has always had the most cosmopolitan profile of any School in Trinity, so I would expect no less!

We are always delighted to re-connect with our alumni, but tonight is a particularly special occasion because of the Tercentenary.

It’s been quite a year. This Gala dinner is only one of many glittering Tercentenary events.

The quality of these events has been superb. I particularly enjoyed the Human+ exhibition in the Science gallery and ‘The Best Doctors in the World’ exhibition in the Old Library.

And as Dermot has said, we are all thrilled with the new Biomedical Sciences Institute where the School of Medicine is now headquartered.

Medicine alumni were most generous in helping the University meet the funding gap for the building. In this Tercentenary year we received €300,000 from medical alumni.

I thank those who contributed with all my heart. It is through your generosity that our future doctors will have state-of-the-art facilities, and it is through your generosity that Trinity’s Medical School will continue to take its place among the best medical schools in the world.


The School of Medicine is one of Trinity’s oldest and most distinguished schools.

We all know the great Nineteenth and Twentieth century Trinity physicians, Robert Graves, William Stokes and Denis Burkitt, because they have given their names to ‘Graves disease’, ‘Burkitt’s Lymphoma’, and ‘Cheyne Stokes respiration’.

I would also like to mention Eva Jellett – partly because she’s the daughter of a Provost, John Hewitt Jellett. But mostly because she was the first female graduate in medicine from Trinity in 1905. She then went to India to run a hospital for women. So she’s an excellent example to my daughters of what a provost’s daughter can achieve!

Her niece was the artist Mainie Jellett and I was thrilled to find one of her pictures hanging in the Provost’s Office when I moved in.  Her cousin Henry Jellett, also a Trinity graduate, was Master of the Rotunda. I mention him because medicine seems to run in families. The great William Stokes was son of one Trinity Physician and the father of another.

And here tonight we have a number of medical dynasties:

Dr Patricia Lip is here with her son, Gerald.

There are sibling groups: Grannum and Susan Sant, and Lim Hwee-Ling and Teh Hui Pin.

You all know Professor Peter Gatenby, Trinity’s Professor of Clinical Medicine. He is here with his son Robin.

There are too many husband and wife teams to mention them all. But I do want to mention Professor Dermot Kelleher and his wife Dr Jean Holohan because they are about to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary!

And I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Dermot for leading the School of Medicine for the last six years and for organising the Tercentenary celebrations.  It is my good fortune that Dermot will continue on the senior management group as Vice-Provost for Medical Affairs.

Many of you know that the 19th century is often referred to as ‘the Golden Age of Irish medicine’. During this year’s celebrations, Professor Kelleher remarked that we are currently “in a golden age of biomedical science in Trinity”. He is referring to Trinity’s ground-breaking research in areas like Immunology, lung cancer, and eczema. 

I am personally aware of the School of Medicine’s excellence. I’m an engineer and my research has focussed on medical devices. This has involved creating an interdisciplinary environment, combining engineering and medicine. Trinity is now at the forefront of next generation medical device research.


This is only my 18th working day as Provost. I am delighted that my second official speaking engagement is to School of Medicine alumni in the Tercentenary year.

I congratulate you all on being alumni of a School which is in its second golden age – and certainly not its last! I thank you all for the part you have played in creating this golden age, and I look forward to meeting many of you later.

It’s now my great pleasure to present these anniversary scrolls to the members of the Tercentenary Board.

[There are six members of the board:

Dr. Michael Asbury, non-executive Chairman of Photopharmica Ltd.
Dame Beulah Bewley, past President of the Medical Women's Federation, former member of the General Medical Council, UK
Dr. Steven Drury, Consultant Histopathologist, New Hampshire, USA
Dr. Stanley Quek, Chief Executive of Frasers Property Groups, Singapore
Mr. Dave Shanahan, Global Head of Life Sciences, IDA Ireland]
Prof. Adrian Hill, Professor of Human Genetics, Wellcome Trust Principal Research Scientist, Oxford University, was Trinity Scholar, but graduated from Oxford]


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