Queen’s University has announced the sudden death of it vice-chancellor Professor Patrick Johnston.
In a statement on Sunday the university said: “It is, with a deep sense of shock and loss, that I have to announce the untimely and sudden death of our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Patrick Johnston, earlier today.
“We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Iseult, his wife, and their four boys, Seamus, Eoghan, Niall and Ruairi, and the wider family circle at this desperately sad time.
“We will provide further updates in due course.”
The cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP described Prof Johnston as a “powerful figure”.
He said he was saddened by the news, and added: “His death is a terrible loss to Queen’s University, cancer research and Northern Ireland.
“Professor Johnston was a powerful figure, working to find a cure for cancer. One of his greatest achievements is undoubtedly leading the establishment of the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology in Belfast.
“I express my deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and QUB colleagues at this difficult time.”