Wednesday 26 October 2016

Sudden death of 'inspiring' scientist shocks colleagues

Pioneering bio-tech scientist Jemma Redmond
Pioneering bio-tech scientist Jemma Redmond

Tributes have poured in following the sudden death of a scientist and CEO of a tech start-up company at the forefront of ground-breaking technology to manufacture human organs.

Jemma Redmond (38), from Tallaght in Dublin, died suddenly on Tuesday in what her devastated mother Lorraine Cahill described as a "tragic accident".

She described her only daughter as being "very hard-working and career-minded".

Ms Redmond was the founder of Cork-based Ourobotics, an award-winning tech start-up company that developed a 3D bio-printer which can print using live human cells.

The technology, which is still in its infancy, could eventually be used to manufacture human organs and replace the use of live animal testing.

Her colleague and co-director of the company, Dr Tony Herbert, said Ms Redmond's colleagues were shocked and devastated to learn of her sudden death.

"She was a fantastic and inspiring woman," he said.

"She was making such progress in really ground-breaking technology.

"She had a fantastic sense of humour and fun and was universally liked and respected," he added.

Dr Herbert said Ms Redmond's death has left a void in the company, which beat competitors from across Europe to win the top prize in the SiliconValley Open Doors Europe competition for technology start-up companies in Dublin in May.

"Jemma's loss has left a major hole in our capabilities. She was the technical leader and it was a major blow to the company," he told the Herald.


"She was an exceptionally talented, clever and creative person in the top one percent of that type of engineer," he said of her expertise as a biotechnologist.

Bill Liao, a venture capitalist who invested in Ms Redmond's company, said she was not only multi-talented and skilled, "she was also making a large range of contributions to a range of fields in biotechnology and to the independent biotech community in general".

"Jemma had a great sense of humour and one of the first things she 3D printed was a replica middle finger to make the point solidly to those who said she could not do it," he said.

"It is a terrible loss for the community here in Ireland and around the world," he said.

Her many friends and colleagues also posted comments on social media yesterday in which they were stunned by the death of such a promising young woman.

Gordon Hunt, a journalist with the technology news website Siliconrepublic.com wrote: "Owing to her exciting prospects, Jemma was a regular feature on Siliconrepublic.com, and the team here is very sorry to hear of her loss. Her passing caught many people off guard, with tributes already flowing in on social media."

He noted that she gave a keynote address on the future of bioprinting at the SynBio Future Conference in Cork city only last month.


He said she was regarded as a leading light in the rapidly evolving field of bio-synthetics and her company was regarded as a pioneer in the field of bio-printing.

Ms Redmond is survived by her parents Lorraine and Christy Cahill and brothers Bryan, (34) and Philip (32) as well as many friends and extended family.

Funeral services will be held today at 11am at St Maelruain's Church in Tallaght after removal from Fanagan's Funeral Home in Tallaght Village. Burial will follow at the church.

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