2014 Recipient of the UCC Medical School Medal

30 May 2014
Prof. John Higgins, Prof. Mary Horgan, Prof. Daniel J. Penny and Dr Liam Plant at the UCC Medical School Awards

Wednesday 28 May - Professor Daniel J. Penny - Chief of Paediatric Cardiology at the Texas Children’s’ Hospital, and Professor of Paediatrics – Cardiology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, receives the UCC Medical School Medal. Daniel entered UCC Medical School in 1979. In 1982 he was invited to read for an intercalated B.Sc. (Hons) in Physiology, graduating with 1st Class Honours in 1983.  He subsequently graduated M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O. in 1986, and interned in Medicine and Surgery at Cork University Hospital.

Between 1987 and 1990 he trained as a Senior House Officer in Paediatrics at a number of Irish hospitals, being awarded the Diploma in Child Health and Membership of the Royal College of Physicians n 1988.  In 2002, the Royal College of Ireland elected him to its Fellowship.

In 1990 he was awarded a British Heart Foundation Junior Research Fellowship at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, moving to Australia in 1992 as a Research Fellow in Cardiology at the Royal Childrens’ Hospital Melbourne, and as a Research Fellow in Paediatric Cardiology, Specialist Fellow in Paediatric Cardiology and Research Fellow at Monash Medical Centre and the Institute of Reproduction and Development at Monash University, Melbourne.

In 1997 he returned to the UK, as Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust Hospital and Honorary Senior Lecturer, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College of Science, Technology & Medicine, London. He was subsequently appointed Senior Lecturer in Cardiology, Institute of Child Health, and Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist-Intensivist, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London.

He returned to Melbourne in 2001, as Chief of Cardiology at the Royal Childrens’ Hospital Melbourne. Whilst there, he was a founding Director of the Australia and New Zealand Children’s Heart Research Centre, a collaborative network for multicenter research across Australia and New Zealand.

Following a visit to Vietnam in 2002, he became active in an international collaborative effort to establish a top-level care facility for children and adults with cardiovascular disease in Hue City. In 2007, The Cardiovascular Institute in Hue City Central Hospital opened its doors. In 2011, he was awarded the ‘For the People's Health’ medal, the highest Award for Healthcare in Vietnam, by Dr. Bui Duc Phu, director of Hue City Central Hospital and member of The Vietnamese Parliament.

In 2010, he moved to Houston, Texas, to take up his current position. In February of this year, he delivered the prestigious 12th Annual William J Rashkind Lecture in Paediatric Cardiology, speaking to a topic which encapsulates the ethos of his career: ‘How to Build the Ultimate Team.’

As well as his other Academic achievements, he has successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis and holds a Masters of Health Administration. His research bridges cardiac physiology and clinical studies of congenital heart disease. He has over 100 peer-reviewed Publications in the Medical Literature, appearing in press in every year, without a break, since 1996. His first Publication, in Arch Dis Child, appeared in 1986 when he was an Intern, publishing research work he had done as a UCC Medical Student. Between 2011 and 2016 he acts as Editor of Paediatrics.

Dan Penny has chosen a career caring for some of the most vulnerable of the world’s citizens – children with complex cardiological problems and their families. This field presents amongst the greatest challenges in physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, medical technology, ethics and holistic practice.

He was recently described by a colleague as follows: "Quite simply, Dan Penny is one of the most creative and innovative pediatric cardiologists on the planet," and: “The application of his talents to the creation of this heart center in Vietnam literally has saved the lives of thousands of Vietnamese men, women and children."

In a previous interview, Dan Penny reflected that: "One of the great privileges of my career has been the opportunity to work in leading hospitals which are committed to improve the health and well-being of children and families, no matter where they live. Any children's hospital which has a vision to be great must be committed to working on a global scale."

Dan Penny is a Clinician, Researcher and Leader in his field, who has achieved excellence in these roles on 4 continents, and whose own career has exemplified that global focus. As an outstanding role model for future Graduates of our Medical School, he is a most deserving recipient of the 2014 UCC Medical School Medal.

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