Professor's position in TCD


Madam, - The board of Trinity College Dublin is refusing to extend the contract of Prof Moira O'Brien, emeritus professor of anatomy (Dec 23rd). For the legions of medical students who trained as doctors in Trinity, Prof O'Brien is synonymous with all that is great about those who really put their hearts into teaching our young people to make their contribution to society.

Many of us, both doctors and patients are aware that Prof O'Brien's talents were not confined to teaching anatomy. She developed the sports medicine unit at Trinity and she has been tireless in highlighting the risks of osteoporosis and in promoting awareness, screening and treatment of this condition.

Prof O'Brien is herself a perfect role model for those who want to take on ageism in our society. She could, if she so chose, have retired years ago to rest on her laurels.

Instead, she continues to make a huge contribution to the world of medicine and in particular women's health.

It is regrettable that the board of Trinity seems to be taking a hardline stance in preventing her for continuing her work at the college. The taxpayer, graduates of Trinity's medical school and patients of Prof O'Brien will be looking for answers from the board in regard to their actions in trying to get rid of Prof O'Brien.

Trinity College, like all educational institutions, has its share of under-performing lecturers who make little contribution to the lives of their students. Prof O'Brien is one of those admirable teachers who want to make a difference. The question is, why is Trinity College so keen to get rid of her? The board cannot hide behind regulations. Prof O'Brien is paying her way and making a huge contribution to our health services. I fully support Prof O'Brien's continued good work and she deserves better from Trinity College. - Yours, etc,

Dr LIAM TWOMEY TD, Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health and Children, Dáil Éireann, Dublin 2.

, - I would like to express my regret that Prof Moira O'Brien may be forced to discontinue her valuable work in osteoporosis screening and research at Trinity College Dublin (ongoing since 1991).

She is the standard-bearer in the field of osteoporosis screening in Ireland and is internationally respected. Prof O'Brien set up the Irish Osteoporosis Society in 1996 (educating medical and lay people). She is responsible for highlighting osteoporosis which affects a third of women and a fifth of men, many athletes, people with eating disorders and those with chronic diseases.

The work currently being carried out by Prof O'Brien and her team at TCD provides screening for adults and a free screening service for children which is a specialised assessment not readily available throughout the country.

At a time when we are trying to focus attention on this disease I feel it would be a detrimental step to lose this service. - Yours, etc,

Dr BARBARA O'BEIRNE, Director, Irish Osteoporosis Society, Galway.