In remembrance: Emerita Professor Lynette Denny

14 June 2024

Dear colleagues and students

It is with immense sadness that we inform you of the passing of Emerita Professor Lynette Denny (66), former head of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She passed away on Sunday, 9 June 2024, following a long period of ill health.

Professor Denny retired in 2023 and was appointed on a one-year post-retirement contract from January 2024. An outstanding teacher, trainer and researcher, she is globally renowned for her work in cervical cancer.

Her relationship with UCT began as a student, graduating with an MBChB in 1983, after which she began her specialist training as a registrar on joint appointment conditions with UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital in obstetrics and gynaecology in 1989, including 18 months as senior registrar in sub-speciality training in gynaecology oncology until January 1993. She thereafter served as specialist (February 1994 to January 1997), senior specialist (1997-2007), principal specialist
(2007-2009), and chief specialist from 2010 until she passed away.

Professor Denny was the recipient of many awards, including the 2006 Department of Science and Technology Award for Women in Science in the category Distinguished Scientist Award and the CANSA AG Oettlé Memorial Award in 2015 in recognition of her remarkable contribution to reducing the impact of cervical cancer on women. A career highlight was the Order of the Baobab (Silver) received from President Cyril Ramaphosa in recognition of her work as a leading global researcher in cervical cancer and its association with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

She has been described as a remarkable woman, colleague, mentor and friend, but above all, a humanitarian with uncompromising values. Colleagues in the Faculty of Health Sciences remember her for how she gifted her department, faculty and university and the people of this country unmeasurable dedication and love, and for remaining a stern and unwavering advocate for the most vulnerable women in society. She served with extraordinary distinction and provided exceptional vision, steer and leadership — and she conducted this with admirable humaneness, humility and servient dedication.

Professor Denny’s legacy will forever be engraved in the rich tapestry of the faculty, UCT and beyond South Africa’s borders.

The university had not yet established funeral details at the time of publication.

The Faculty of Health Sciences and the Denny family will host a memorial service on Friday, 14 June 2024 at 15:30 for 16:00–19:00 SAST in the Neuroscience Institute Foyer.

  • Read an in memoriam by the Dean of Health Sciences, Associate Professor Lionel

The university is in contact with Professor Denny’s 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 Denny.


The UCT Executive

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