In Memoriam: International Cancer Researcher Gregory T. O'Conor
Dr. Gregory T. O’Conor, former director of what was NCI’s Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention and associate director of International Affairs, died in Natick, MA, on August 22. Dr. O’Conor was responsible for implementing many of the mandates in the National Cancer Act of 1972 to develop international research programs.
Following completion of his graduate training, Dr. O’Conor served as a staff pathologist at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, CT, from 1954 to 1958.
In May of 1958, Dr. O’Conor moved with his wife and six young children to Nyakibale mission station, in a remote area of southwestern Uganda, and began volunteering his services as a physician. After several months, he accepted a faculty position at Makerere Medical College in Kampala. He joined Dr. Denis Burkitt in studying what is now known as Burkitt lymphoma. Their seminal work became the springboard for research on this disease.
In 1960, he returned to the United States and began a 25-year career in cancer research and clinical medicine at NCI. As associate director of International Affairs, he emphasized international participation, collaboration, and communication in the fields of health care and research.
He also completed several international assignments, including positions with the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France. Dr. O’Conor designed and implemented the International Cancer Research Databank and played a major role in developing international standards for classifying lymphomas.