In Memoriam: Professor Timothy J Egan

05 May 2022
Professor Timothy J Egan  (Jamison Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town
Professor Timothy J Egan (Jamison Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Cape Town
05 May 2022


It is with a great deal of sadness that we record the recent passing of Professor Tim Egan, who died on Sunday 1st May 2022 at the age of 60. We mourn the premature loss of a valued and respected colleague, friend, mentor and teacher, whose scientific contributions and integrity will remain as a lasting and inspirational legacy for us and generations of chemists to follow. Our condolences go especially to his wife Joanne and his extended family, in the undoubted loss that they feel: we wish them consolation and strength.

Tim started his academic career in the Department of Chemistry at UCT in 1996 after first obtaining his PhD the University of 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, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, University of Cape Town. 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 Science Faculty physical planning committee and was the main architect of the major renovation and modernization of the Chemistry department. 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, being recognized with the University’s Distinguished Teachers Award, and an outstanding researcher, with his national and international standing as a leader in his field widely acknowledged. Inter alia, he was a Fellow of the University of Cape Town and of the South African Chemical Institute (SACI), a recipient of the SACI Gold Medal, received a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellowship in 2013, and was recently awarded an A-rating by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). He had indeed, 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. But 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 whoever, and no matter whether it was to simply talk about interesting ideas or to deal with a grievance or to impart advice or wisdom.

Tim will be sadly missed by us all, but leaves us with much to reflect on, and an example of the power of a life lived with resolute determination, uncompromising in its pursuit of truth and excellence, and yet profoundly respectful of all with whom he came in contact.

We have set up a Kudoboard entitled “In loving memory of Professor Timothy John Egan” - which is a digital platform that allows one to create a virtual memorial card in the form of an online board and allows many to contribute by adding personalised messages, photos, videos etc. You are invited to participate in this by posting messages, sharing memories and/or expressing ways in which Tim has impacted your life via this platform.  If you have any queries or need assistance with this, you are welcome to contact Roxanne Mohunlal ( directly.

Click here to access the Kudoboard