Queen’s University announces Brian Conlon Foundation gift

Brian Conlon, one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs, died in 2019 aged 53 following a battle with oesophageal cancer. The Brian Conlon Foundation was created by his family to honour his memory.

The gift will fund three posts (a PhD studentship, a Clinical Fellow and a Biobank Technician) dedicated to support vital early detection research of Barrett’s oesophagus and oesophageal cancer research at The Patrick G. Johnston Centre for Cancer Research at Queen’s.

An accomplished GAA footballer, Brian also played for Queen’s as well as his native Down. To honour his love of Gaelic sport, the gift will also establish The Brian Conlon GAA Scholarship at Queen’s which will enable students to pursue their passion for the sport regardless of their background and financial means.

Welcoming the gift, Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, commented: “Queen’s University is delighted to welcome this generous gift from The Brian Conlon Foundation. This gift acknowledges the incredible legacy of the late entrepreneurial businessman and Queen’s honorary graduate, Brian Conlon.

“Brian remains an inspiration and motivation to the students of Queen’s and this gift in his name today will help Queen’s in our mission to shape a better world through life-changing education and research.”

In 2012, Brian was awarded an Honorary Degree from Queen’s ‘for services to business and commerce’. He also helped establish Northern Ireland’s first ever financial trading room at his alma mater which continues to provide a dynamic learning environment for Queen’s students wishing to embark on a career in financial services or technology. 

Kathy Kearns, Brian’s sister, said: “The Brian Conlon Foundation was set up to honour Brian’s legacy and celebrate his drive, ambition and determination, which inspired us all. We are proud to make this gift in his name to Queen’s which will help support vital research into the early detection of oesophageal cancer.

“As a family we experienced first-hand how rapid and aggressive this disease is, and if the research which we are supporting can help even one person to get an early detection and save a life, the Foundation will have made a difference. 

“We are also honoured that this gift will establish The Brian Conlon GAA Scholarship. Brian excelled at many sports and understood the need to support them at grass roots level, but his greatest passion was always Gaelic football. Brian used to spend all his time either training or playing Gaelic for his club Newry Mitchel’s, Down and Queen’s Sigerson Cup team until an injury cut short his football career and changed the course of his life.

“He then invested all his energy into setting up his business First Derivatives (FD) but always said he would have swapped all his success at FD if he had still been able to play Gaelic and to have been part of the All Ireland Down team in the 90’s. We are therefore delighted that this scholarship will support young people at Queen’s to pursue their passion for Gaelic.”