The Irish Gerontological Society awards Prof. Davis Coakley its highest honour, the Presidential Medal, at its 64th Annual General Meeting in Killarney in September 2016.
Professor Davis Coakley
Prof Davis Coakley is a native of Cork City where he attended a long established all-Irish School - Scoil Phort Uí Shúileabháin (Sullivan's Quay - founded 1828) where he excelled academically, entering University College Cork with an Entrance Scholarship.
He studied Medicine, finishing first place in his class in Medicine in 1971. He interned in St Finbarr's Hospital which was the main UCC Teaching hospital in Cork at that time. It was there that he met and was inspired by the great pioneering Geriatrician, Dr Michael Hyland.
Davis decided to follow Dr Hyland into the speciality of Geriatric Medicine.
He first spent two years on the TCD / Federated medical training scheme in Dublin and then moved to the Heath University Hospital in Cardiff and worked with another great physician in Geriatric Medicine, Prof John Pathy. He completed his Senior Registrar training there and also obtained his MD in the area of Micro-Ocular Tremor in Neurological Disease. Davis has published widely in this area, also publishing a book in 1983, Minute Eye Movement and Brain Stem Function.
From Cardiff, Davis moved to Manchester as a Consultant Physician/Senior Lecturer where he worked with another giant of Geriatric Medicine, Prof John Brocklehurst.
In 1979, Prof Coakley was appointed to St James's Hospital in Dublin as a Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, joining Dr John Flanagan who was the first physician appointed to the speciality in Ireland.
He then proposed to the board of the hospital that a new Institute for Ageing should be established in St James's Hospital, with state of the art inpatient and ambulatory care facilities for patients, together with a large clinical research and teaching facility.
When Mercer's Hospital services and staff were transferred around the same time to St James's Hospital campus, Prof Coakley and Prof Jim Malone (Medical Physicist) proposed to the Mercer's Hospital Board that the funds from the sale of Mercer's Hospital be used to establish the first phase of this Institute for Ageing on St James's Campus.
So it came to pass that the Mercer's Institute for Research on Ageing in St James's Hospital came into being in 1987 and over subsequent years this research unit has been at the forefront of Research and Training for Doctors, Nurses and Health Care Professionals working in services for the Elderly in Ireland.
Gradually over the next 25 years different briefs for the new Centre for Successful Ageing evolved and with the support of the St James's Hospital Board, TCD, the HSE and the Department of Health an agreed brief evolved. This brief was successfully submitted to Atlantic Philanthropies for co-funding with the HSE/DOH and the new Mercer's Institute for Successful Ageing (MISA) was completed earlier this year (2016) on the St James's Hospital Campus.
The new MISA Centre has 116 beds, the majority single bed occupancy, and the State of the Art Facilities for patient care, teaching and research envisaged and proposed by Prof Coakley over 30 years previously.
Prof Coakley was appointed as the first Professor in Geriatric Medicine in TCD and in Ireland in 1987.
He subsequently was Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in TCD for six years (1993-1999) during which time the degree course in nursing was established and the Masters in Gerontological Nursing was created.
Prof Coakley is also a gifted writer from his time in school and university college days when he was editor of many productions e.g. The Quarryman's Journal and the Irish Students Medical Journal. In addition to his wide volume of medical writings and publications he has also taken a great interest in the works of Oscar Wilde and in Medical History.
His Medical Text Books include: Establishing a Geriatric Service, Acute Geriatric Medicine, Physiotherapy and the Elderly Patient - Therapy in Practice (with Paul Wagstaff), Nursing and the Doctor (with V Hanson)
His other published works include Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Irish, Irish Masters of Medicine, The Irish School of Medicine, and Medicine in Trinity College Dublin - an Illustrated History. He is currently putting the finishing touches to a major work on the History of Medicine on the St James's Hospital site which has been home to a hospital since 1704.
Prof Davis Coakley also served as Secretary and President of the Irish Gerontological Society playing a major role in making it the main forum for the publication of research into health care of the elderly in Ireland.
Prof Coakley is married to Mary, who has co-authored some of Davis's works. They are the parents of four boys, two of whom have followed him into the medical field.
Davis's immense contribution to his profession and speciality has already been widely recognised internationally - he was awarded the Charles University Prague 650 Jubilee Medal in 1998, the President’s Medal of the British Geriatric Society in 2004, and an Honorary Fellowship of Trinity College Dublin in 2005.
Professor J. Bernard Walsh
Director, Mercer's Institute for Research on Ageing
Consultant Physician, MedEL Directorate, St. James’s Hospital, Dublin
Clinical Professor, Department of Medical Gerontology, Trinity College Dublin
Director, Bone Health and Osteoporosis Unit, St James's Hospital