British Medical Journal/1924/Alexander Charles O'Sullivan

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Obituary: Alexander Charles O'Sullivan  (1924) 
Source: British Medical Journal 1924 March 1; 1(3296): 409–410.
ALEXANDER CHARLES O'SULLIVAN, M.B., B.Ch.,
Professor of Pathology, Trinity College, Dublin.

We record with much regret the death, on February 18th, of Dr. Alexander Charles O'Sullivan, Professor of Pathology in the University of Dublin and Senior Fellow of Trinity College, at his residence, Ailesbury Road, Dublin, after an illness of only a few days. He was born in the county of Cork about sixty-six years ago, the son of the Rev. Denis O'Sullivan, Rector of Macroom. From Tipperary Grammar School he went to Trinity College, Dublin, and having studied classics in his freshman years he suddenly turned to mathematics, and obtained a scholarship in that subject in 1879. In 1881 he was first senior moderator in mathematics and also in ethics and logic. It is interesting to recall that the first mathematical scholar in 1879 was Dr. Bernard, the present Provost of Trinity College, and the senior classical scholar was Professor J. B. Bury, the distinguished historian. Dr. Bernard obtained his Fellowship in 1884, Dr. Bury in 1885, and Dr. O'Sullivan in 1886. Having taken his Fellowship, Dr. O'Sullivan, under the influence and advice of the late Professor Samuel Haughton, turned to the study of medicine, and took his M.B., B.Ch., B.A.O. degrees in 1894. He went to Vienna for a special course of bacteriology, and returning to Dublin in 1895 was appointed lecturer in pathology in Trinity College. When the chair of pathology was founded he was again reappointed as lecturer, and a couple of years ago he was confirmed in that position as professor. Dr. O'Sullivan may be regarded as the father of the modern school of Dublin physicians. In the autumn of 1915 he volunteered for service and went out as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps to Malta, where his work in malaria and dysentery obtained widespread recognition. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and at the close of the war he was placed in charge of the Central Military Laboratory for Ireland. Dr. O'Sullivan held examinerships in the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, and Belfast, and was a member of the Royal Irish Academy, for which he wrote many papers. During the past three years he held the position of registrar of the medical school (dean of the medical faculty); he came into contact with two generations of medical students, and helped to shape the policy of the College. Dr. O'Sullivan was a fine classical scholar, and always kept in close touch with the progress of modern mathematics; many men holding chairs in that subject to-day would acknowledge him to be their master. His interest in the development of mathematical research did not interfere with his devotion to philosophy and the classics, and he probably had few equals in his knowledge of cellular pathology. He was an inspiring teacher; his laboratory was a rallying point for medical students and newly qualified physicians in search of advice and guidance. In 1903 he was Vice-President of the Pathology Section at the meeting of the British Medical Association at Swansea. In his youth he was a fine athlete, and he rowed in the College eights and fours. He was a keen yachtsman and golfer, and loved a game of billiards. Dr. O'Sullivan was a man of the most lovable character: with simplicity he combined manly courage, as had frequently been displayed in his mountaineering adventures. He was one of the outstanding figures in the life of the College, and it is admitted by his colleagues that it will be hard to find a man to fill his place. The cause of his death was blood poisoning contracted on February 13th, whilst performing a post-mortem examination. He leaves a widow and four children.

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