In remembrance: Professor Timothy Egan

06 May 2022

Dear colleagues and students

It is with a great deal of sadness that we convey the news of the passing of our colleague, Professor Timothy Egan (60), on Sunday, 1 May 2022.

Professor Egan started his academic career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1996. He obtained his PhD from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1988, with subsequent post-doctoral and research associate positions in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, USA and the Department of Chemical Pathology, Institute of Child Health and the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

He had a distinguished academic career at UCT, rising to the rank of Professor and Chair in Inorganic Chemistry. Tim held many leadership positions across the university. He was highly respected for his work on the Faculty of Science physical planning committee and was the main architect of the major renovation and modernisation of the Department of Chemistry. He held many portfolios in the department in which his excellent common sense, strategic vision and attention to detail made a significant difference. This included service as deputy head (from 2012) and then as head of department from 2018.

He was an excellent teacher and was recognised with the university’s Distinguished Teachers Award. He was an outstanding researcher, with his national and international standing as a leader in his field widely acknowledged. He was, inter alia, a Fellow of UCT and of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), a recipient of the SACI Gold Medal, and a fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

He had over the years at UCT established and maintained a research group devoted to the broader cause of combatting the scourge of malaria, and more specifically to improving the understanding of hemozoin formation in malarial parasites, and confirming the fact that hemozoin remains a very important target of anti-malarial drug design, and the mechanism of action of such drugs.

He will be remembered by his colleagues and students as a principled, compassionate man as well as a clear thinker with a meticulously rational approach to everything he did – including his teaching, research and his service and leadership roles in the university and the broader community of chemists in South Africa. He believed in the power and integrity of science, and indeed lived his life by its principles and applied these to problems and challenges beyond the bounds of his professional interests.

He will also be remembered as a loyal and gentle friend, someone who always had time to sit and talk and listen to colleagues, work associates, students or anyone, whether it was to simply talk about interesting ideas or to deal with a grievance or to impart advice or wisdom.

Professor Egan is survived by his wife, Joanne.

His funeral is still in the planning stages and further details will be provided on the UCT Department of Chemistry website in due course.

The university is in contact with the Egan family and has reached out to offer support during this time of grief. We convey our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and all who knew Professor Egan.


The UCT Executive

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