Dr. Gregory T. O’Conor
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Gregory T. O'Conor, 88, died in Natick, MA on Aug 22, 2012. Dr. O'Conor had an extensive career as a pathologist, engaged in international cancer research. He was born in Cincinnati Ohio June 23, 1924. Following completion of his graduate training, he served as a staff pathologist at St. Francis Hospital, Hartford CT from 1954 to 1958. , During those years, a spirit of religious conviction, altruism, and a desire for challenge and adventure, led him to his decision to volunteer his services as a physician in a remote area of southwestern Uganda, under the auspices of The White Fathers Mission Services.

In May of 1958, he arrived with his wife and six young children in Nyakibale mission station, and began to work on establishing a small hospital. After several months, however, due to many obstacles, he moved to Kampala and accepted a faculty position at Makerere Medical College. He joined with Dr Denis Burkitt in a study of what is now known as Burkitt lymphoma, the results of which were published in the journal Cancer in 1961. This seminal work became the springboard for research in this disease, which continues to this day.

In 1960, he returned to the United States and began a 25 year career in cancer research, clinical medicine, and teaching at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. He held many positions while at the NCI, including Director of the Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention. His last appointment was that of Associate Director of International Affairs, where he emphasized the fostering of international participation, collaboration, and communication in the fields of health care and research.

Dr. O'Conor was responsible for the implementation of many of the mandates of the National Cancer Act of 1972 relating to the development of international research programs. During that time, he also completed several extended international assignments, including positions with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France. He designed and implemented the International Cancer Research Databank (ICRDB) and played a major role in the development of international standards for classification of lymphomas. He served as consultant to many governments and national institutions abroad in the area of cancer research development. At the time of his retirement, Dr. O'Conor was Chief of Surgical Pathology at Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois.

He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Jean (Rose) O’Conor. He was the loving father of Jean O’Conor, Gregory T O’Conor, Jr (Tom), Mary Ruth Firebaugh, Sara Siciliano, Peter, Richard and the late Joseph O’Conor. He is also survived by 20 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

• Picture: Drs Dennis Burkitt, Gregory O'Conor and Dennis Wright.

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