Tribute to Professor Helen Laburn

Prof. Helen Laburn
Prof. Helen Laburn

We remember with fondness and admiration, Professor Helen Laburn former Head of the School of Physiology, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research of the University, who passed away peacefully on Friday 19, 2014. More than this, we remember a friend and colleague, a lady of character and dignity, a person of trust and compassion. Helen was a true daughter of Wits and dedicated her life to providing excellence in many aspects of our work. She was an integral part of the Faculty of Health Sciences for over 30 years and her death will leave a huge void.

Professor Laburn was nationally and internationally recognised for her contributions to physiology and to research. She was a Foreign Member of the Physiological Society (London), a Member of the Thermal Physiology Commission of the International Union of Physiological Sciences and a Member of the South African National Committee for the International Union of Physiological Sciences. Helen was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa, an Honorary Fellow of the Physiology Society of Southern Africa and a member of the Academy of Sciences of South Africa.

While being a highly proficient and dedicated teacher, researcher (Professor of Thermal Physiology) and administrator, one of Helen’s greatest interests was in the training of postgraduate students. Professor Laburn was responsible for instituting many postgraduate policies in the Faculty. She Chaired the Postgraduate Committee of the Faculty and executed a plan for the creation of a School of Postgraduate Studies which resulted in the Centre of Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty.

Her consultative management style, clarity of communication, logic and fairness were a hallmark of the diplomacy that marked the period of her Deanship.
Sincere condolences are extended to Helen’s husband Ted, daughters Julia and Erica, her mother, family and friends.

It was a privilege to know and work with Helen.

Story by: Prof Beverly Kramer, Wits Health Sciences Research News