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Monday, March 8, 2021

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UH to remember prof in memorial


Gregory Cahill, former associate professor of biology and biochemistry at the University of Houston whose collogues describe him as being gifted in both research and with his students, will have a memorial service held in his honor on Feb. 13 after his death last month.

‘He was one of the most energetic and professional researchers I’ve known, and a great teacher who held a natural affinity with students,’ said Stuart Dryer, John and Rebecca Moores Professor and chair of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. ‘I was proud to work with him.’

Described as an avid outdoorsman with a strong interest in rafting and hiking, Cahill was at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Dec. 23 waiting to catch a flight to visit family in Minnesota when he passed away. Cahill had been previously struggling with his health and the cause of death has not been released. He was 50 years old.

Credited as being an invaluable contributor to the field of biological clock cycles, Cahill used genetically altered zebra fish that glowed in the dark, research that is used in the study of human sleep disorders and mental illnesses.

Cahill, whom Dryer described as ‘meticulous and a perfectionist’ in his research, was said to have had a similar ability in the classroom, as well.

‘He was extremely personable and quick with a smile. With his students, he had the ability to push his students hard but in the kindest possible way,’ Dryer said.

Cahill, who also taught courses in physiology and behavioral biology, joined the University of Houston in 1994 as an assistant professor before being promoted to associate professor in 2001.’

Cahill regularly spoke in international meetings in his field and was awarded the University of Houston Research Excellence Award for assistant professors in 1998. Cahill’s papers have been published 37 times and he received continuous federal funding for his research at UH.

Prior to his work at UH, Cahill graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota before earning his doctorate in biology and neuroscience at the University of Oregon.

Cahill continued his postdoctoral work at Emory University before becoming a research assistant professor at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, where he studied with now University of Virginia professor of biology Carla Green.

Green described Cahill as a ‘kind, gracious person,’ and said Cahill exhibited several positive characteristics both in the lab and with others.

‘Myself and most who knew him would describe him as gentle, patient but incredibly smart. Most knew him to be scary smart,’ Green said with a laugh.

‘He made many major contributions and several very important studies to the field of biological clocks, but was always willing to share his knowledge,’ Green said. ‘I want everyone to know how much he’s going to be missed.’

Cahill is survived by his sister and his four brothers.

The Department of Biology and Biochemistry will hold Cahill’s memorial service at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at A.D. Bruce Religion Center.


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