The cortege passing Queen’s University as crowds gather. Photo Source: Bonnie Shawcross, Social Media Editor.
Gráinne Ní Ghréachaín, Editor.
Professor Patrick Johnston was the 12th President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University, a position he held from the 1st of March, 2014 until his recent passing on June 4th. His sudden death, at the age of 58, came as a shock to the community, local and worldwide. The reason for his death has not yet been revealed. Queens University have stated that he ‘‘died while cycling in his beloved Donegal.’’
Originally from County Derry, the late Professor Johnston, attended St. Columb’s College and afterwards was accepted at and graduated from University College Dublin with a Doctor of Medicine in 1988. He was selected as Professor of Oncology when he joined Queen’s University in the year 1996. Following this, he was appointed Dean of the school of Medicine, Dentistry, and Biomedical Sciences.
In relation to Professor Johnston’s work, The Belfast Telegraph stated that he was ‘‘regarded as one of the world’s leading cancer researchers.’’ Professor Johnston managed the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s as well as being a prominent figure in the establishing of a new international Medical school and Institute of Health Sciences at Queen’s in 2007. As a result of this, he was awarded the Diamond Jubilee Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2012 for the work he undertook at the cancer centre at Queen’s. It was in 2013, that Professor Johnston was also awarded the International Bob Pinedo Cancer Care Prize.
Professor Johnston was head of the Translational Research Group of the Medical Research Council, a member of the advisory board for Cancer Research UK and founder of Almac Diagnostics.
During his three years as Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University said that ‘‘research income to the University doubled, international students have significantly increased and the University engagement with the local, national and international communities has been transformed.’’
His funeral took place today, June 8th, at St. Brigid’s Parish Church, Derryvolgie Avenue at 11am. Following this, the cortege drove past Queen’s University to give the staff and students an opportunity to pay their respects to their former Vice-Chancellor. Queen’s University stated that this would be a ‘‘final and fitting tribute.’’
Queen’s University Students’ Union released a statement earlier this week expressing their ‘‘sincere condolences’’ to the family of the late Professor Johnston, who they had ‘‘fond memories’’ of. They also found his ‘‘commitment to improving Queen’s as a University’’ to be ‘‘inspiring.’’
Queen’s University Belfast issued a statement expressing their ‘‘deepest sympathies and condolences’’ to the family of Professor Johnston and the ‘‘deep sense of shock and loss’’ that they were experiencing at this time. A book of condolence was opened in the Lanyon Building of Queen’s University, in order for staff, students and the general public to ‘‘pay their respects in recognition of Professor Johnston’s outstanding contribution to Queen’s and to wider society.’’
Queen’s University have also stated that ‘‘Anyone wishing to make a donation should do so to Cancer Research UK or to Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.’’