Development & Alumni Relations Office 


A further obituary is also available online in The Irish Times

22 May 2020

Dr Thomas (Tom) Gerard Lynch, BSc Econ (1978) and DSc Econ (2015) - highly respected internationally in the biopharmaceutical and clinical research sectors, a distinguished alumnus and Honorary Graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and a former Chairman of the University’s Foundation Board - died in St Vincent's Private Hospital, Dublin on 01 April 2020, aged 63, following a short illness.  

Born in Belfast on 17 July 1956, Tom Lynch attended Queen’s University Belfast in the mid-1970s, graduating with a BSc (Econ) in 1978 before serving with distinction as President of the Students’ Union for two years (1978-1980). Over twenty years later, as Chairman of the Foundation he led a number of successful fundraising campaigns. 

While still a student at Queen’s, Tom volunteered during the summer holidays in the Mater Hospital in Belfast and subsequently developed a passion for medicine and medical sciences, the first indication perhaps of his future career in biopharmaceuticals.

Joining KPMG – then called Stokes Kennedy Crowley – in 1980, Tom qualified as a chartered accountant, working initially as an Audit Assistant and Senior, before becoming a Manager of the firm in 1984, a Director in 1987, and finally partner in 1990. During 13 years at KPMG he worked extensively in the US and Europe.

Throughout an illustrious career, Tom held numerous directorships including at Nanogen Inc., Pembroke Capital and Warner Chilcott (a company he founded in 1994 ad was associated with until 2002 as a Director), before serving in a number of senior positions at Élan Corporation plc, (a major drugs firm based in Dublin), including Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer (1993-2000), Vice Chairman (2000-02) and Senior Adviser (2002-04), leading its transition from a drug delivery into a major biotechnology company. Élan ceased operations in 2013.

Among many other roles, he was non-executive Chairman (2000-07) and then CEO and Chair of Amarin Corporation Plc (2007-09); a Director (from 1995) and later Chairman of Icon Plc (one of the world's largest clinical research organisations), he was a member of its board for 21 years; Chairman of Profectus Biosciences, Inc; a Director (from 2003) and later Chairman of ChronTech Pharma AB; Chairman of Dublin Academic Medical Centre (from 2007); Chairman of Molecular Medicine Ireland (from 2011); and of the Dublin East Hospital Group.

A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, from 2000-10 he was also a Director of the IDA Ireland, the agency responsible for inward foreign direct investment into Ireland; and he was appointed to the Board of Tripep AB (2004), eventually serving as Chairman for a number of years.

Outside of work and his family, Tom’s great love was music. From 1997 he was a trustee of the Royal Opera House Foundation in London’s Covent Garden and, in 2001 was appointed to the Board of the Royal Opera House serving on the Finance and Audit, and on the Nominations and Remuneration Committees, between then and 2010.

He was also a Governor of the Royal Ballet School and a Governor of the Royal Ballet Companies, a member of the International Council of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and of the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts in Washington, D.C. A former chair of Opera Ireland, he was a director of the Dublin Choral Foundation and chaired the cross-Border orchestra, Camerata Ireland.

In 2006 he became a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Human Virology and later the same year a Trustee and Chairman of HRH The Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health.

Tom’s personal philosophy was ‘when you have, you have to give back’ which has echoes of Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus – the Latin motto of the City of Belfast and the unofficial motto of his alma mater which translates as 'what shall we give in return for so much' – which was something he practised generously throughout his life.

He became involved in University College Dublin (UCD) and along with his wife, Deirdre, contributed to the major campaign for the UCD Centre for Science. He also supported other fundraising campaigns and initiatives such as the Global Virus Network, a group of internationally renowned virologists who came together to respond to new virus diseases such as bird flu, Sars and now, poignantly, Covid-19.

He was appointed to the Board of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin in 2012, becoming its chairman in 2015.  He was also a member of the board of St Vincent’s University Hospital in the city.

Tom was also a hugely generous supporter of numerous projects across the Queen’s campus over many years, including the renovation of The Great Hall, the building of The McClay Library, Executive Education, Riddel Hall, the Queen's Annual Fund and Sport and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.  

A man of vision, Tom served on the Board of The Queen’s University of Belfast Foundation for 16 years, 12 of them as Chair. During this time he was instrumental in leading a number of major, highly successful University fundraising campaigns before retiring from the Board in 2016.

In 2013, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science by UCD, and two years later in 2015, he received a DSc Econ from Queen’s, for services to business and commerce, and to the University.

Deeply spiritual and a man of great conviction, Tom was made a member of the Order of Knight of St Gregory by Pope Benedict XVI and was chancellor of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

Tom is survived by his wife Deirdre, their three children, Jennifer, Rebecca and Mark and by his brother Peter, sisters Mary, Anne, Sarah and Jane, and by his wider family circle.

The University, and in particular the staff of the Development and Alumni Relations Office at Queen’s who worked closely with Tom over many years, were deeply saddened to learn of his passing and convey their deepest sympathies to Deirdre and members of the Lynch family.   

To submit graduate obituaries or news items, or for general enquiries about this story, please contact Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO), Queen’s University Belfast.

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