February 28, 2003

Connolly, research assistant professor, dies of cancer

Featured Image

Vanderbilt’s Patti Scott, MSN, checks the temperature of a patient at the Fall-Hamilton Elementary School clinic. Scott has been the nurse practitioner at the school clinic for eight years. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Cynthia C. Connolly, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, died last Friday from breast cancer. She was 43.

Dr. Connolly, a native of Shelbyville, Ky., earned her doctorate in 1991 from Vanderbilt and her research specialty was gestational diabetes.

Alan D. Cherrington, Ph.D., chairman of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, remembered her as a researcher who was passionate about both her work and her family. She is survived by her husband Patrick, a reporter for the Tennessean, and their three children, ages 14, 11, and 7.

“Her level of accomplishment both in the research sphere and the home front was extraordinary,” Cherrington said. “That was one of the most remarkable things about her, her devotion to both her career and her family.”

Dr. Connolly earned a B.S. degree in chemistry from Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., in 1981. She came to Vanderbilt as a graduate student in the mid 1980s, and after earning her Ph.D. degree and completing her postdoctoral work, she had joined the faculty in 1993 as a research instructor in Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1994 she was promoted to the position of research assistant professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and in 1997 moved to Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

Cherrington said he had known Dr. Connolly for more than 15 years and that she did her postdoctoral work in his laboratory.

Even though she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Cherrington noted that she had applied for and received an NIH grant and continued her research work until her illness forced her to stop.

Memorials can be made to the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center; the Dominican Campus; or Vine Street Christian Church.