Daniel T. O’Connor Memorial Award Established to Support CTRI Pilot Project

August 6, 2015

Daniel T. O'Connor

Daniel T. O'Connor, MD
October 31, 1948-August 6, 2014

The UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) is pleased to announce the Daniel T. O'Connor Memorial Award, which provides an additional $5k to the top ranked 2015 CTRI pilot project recipient, Julie Bykowski, MD, for a study of brain development in premature infants.

O'Connor, who was a longstanding and beloved member of the faculty of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, died last year. He is widely recognized for his achievements in clinical, translational and basic research on a national and international scale, particularly in the areas of adrenergic contributions to blood pressure regulation and the complex role of genetics in the contribution to hypertension. The memorial award marks the first anniversary of his death.

Established by O'Connor's widow, Kellie Evans-O'Connor, the award was created to support a junior investigator by supplementing a CTRI pilot project. O'Connor, a former chair of the CTRI Research Committee, had conducted many clinical trials at the CTRI. He received a 2013 CTRI Personalized Medicine pilot project award for "Natural human genetic variation and the metabolism: Studies in twin pairs." Data from his research project were published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2014.

Daniel T. O'Connor, MD October 31, 1948-August 6, 2014"We are honored that Kellie has chosen to recognize a young investigator supported through CTRI for this award in memory of Dr. O'Connor," said Gary S. Firestein, MD, director of CTRI. "Dan was a well-recognized researcher, as well as a highly respected educator at UC San Diego. He had a deep impact on junior faculty, and this impact will continue through the generosity of the O'Connor family."

The Bykowski project, "Trajectory of Brain Development in Pre-Term Infants," will take advantage of new technology developed at UC San Diego by Anders Dale, PhD, that will give a much better picture of infant brain structure. The project will evaluate 15 pre-term babies during their first year of life, comparing the growth of brain structures on MRI scans with the child's mental, social and physical development. It will help demonstrate a new, reliable way of measuring the developing brain with MRI scans, and provide information regarding the range of normal and abnormal, which may help in the future for early detection of problems and guide appropriate therapy. The O'Connor award will enable the extension of the research and number of infants studied.

"Dr. Bykowski's application is on a topic that Dan would have liked since he worked on nerve function for so many years.  Dan provided guidance and encouragement for many new investigators, which makes this award so appropriate," said Michael Ziegler, MD, who is on the CTRI Executive Committee.

Read more about O'Connor's life and research.