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Dr. Dermot Kelleher joined UBC in 2015 as Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.
Prior to his appointment at UBC, Dr. Kelleher served as Vice-President, Health, and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London.
Over the years, Dr. Kelleher has received many prestigious awards including a Fogarty Scholarship at the University of California, San Diego, Wellcome Senior Fellow in Clinical Science, and most recently the Conway Medal from the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland.
What quality do you most admire in a leader?
DK: Leadership is complex — you have to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. One quality I admire is the ability to demonstrate emotional intelligence. You also need a clear vision that others can work towards.
What makes you laugh?
DK: I am a big fan of an Irish TV comedy called Father Ted. My Canadian colleagues may not be familiar with it, but it has a big following back in Ireland and the UK as a whole. It is quite a surreal comedy, which I enjoy.
Who inspires you, and why?
DK: I had a great mentor as a young doctor in the form of Professor Donald Weir at Trinity College, Dublin. He combined medical science with great leadership. My mum was also a great influence on my life. During the war she spent time doing art therapy with wounded soldiers. My mum always displayed great patience and kindness — she was a true inspiration.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
DK: Never to take ‘no’ for an answer. Throughout life you will always come up against obstacles. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer doesn’t mean you fight against the barriers, you just find creative ways around them. I believe there is always a way around a problem.
What is your favourite song?
DK: Bob Marley: No woman, No cry. My mum is originally from the Caribbean and I have a lot of extended family in Trinidad.
How do you like to recharge?
DK: I play soccer. I currently play in a local league for the Point Grey Thistles. I am also proud to have represented Ireland in the Medical Soccer World Cup. We entered for the first time last year and managed to reach the Quarter Finals. I will be taking part again this summer (although this will probably be my last tournament). The matches will be played at Barcelona’s training ground — it will be quite an experience!
For you, what makes UBC different?
DK: The Faculty of Medicine is special because it has a reach across the entire province. It has a fantastic platform for education as well as entrepreneurial spirit. I think this could be said for UBC as a whole.
What is your vision for the Faculty of Medicine?
DK: My vision is based around the fact we have a contract with society. Our contract is to deliver the means to provide healthcare for the population of British Columbia. This includes having a vision for how we fill our educational programs, how we conduct research, and exploring precision medicine — developing the tools to tailor treatment to precise patient needs. We also have the knowledge to generate significant economic impact, creating a life science economy in B.C.
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
DK: To see into the future. We all know that the future will be different — it would be interesting to see how it will unfold ahead of time.
What would you like to be remembered for?
DK: I would like people to remember me as someone who helped harness the talent we have within our Faculty, to bring real, transformational impact.
And speaking of seeing into the future, I would also love to be remembered as the person who scored the winning goal for Ireland at the 2016 Medical Soccer World Cup!