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Dr. Robert John Mullin
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Obituary for Dr. Robert John Mullin

Robert (Bob) John Mullin, the son of Dr. Edward W. Mullin and Helen J. (Burke) Mullin was born August 25, 1953 in Syracuse, N.Y., and died at home in Durham, NC on Sept 14, 2017. After graduating from Christian Brothers Academy (1971) and Denison University (1975), he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota (1981). At Minnesota, he met fellow graduate student, Mary Helen Hanlon, whom he married in 1980. They moved to Durham, NC in 1981, where Bob completed a post-doctoral fellowship in biochemistry at Duke University. In 1986 he began a career in pharmaceutical research at Burroughs Welcome (Glaxo Welcome/GlaxoSmithKline) where he was instrumental in the identification and testing of lapatinib, a drug now used to treat HER2+ breast cancer. He continued his work in oncology drug discovery as Senior Research Director at Piedmont Research and Charles River Discovery Services in Morrisville, NC.

Bob enjoyed hiking, canoeing and kayaking, and was an accomplished nature photographer. He appreciated a great round of golf, a glimpse of a hummingbird, and taking a moment to enjoy the view. He had a passion for learning and teaching, whether it be in the lab or on the soccer field. He loved Duke Basketball, Manchester United, and was an ardent supporter of Triangle F.C. His friends remember his quick wit and his booming voice from the stands at his children’s sports events. His family enjoyed his commitment to maintaining and creating family traditions. They knew they were home when they opened the front door and followed the aroma of a delicious curry to the kitchen, to find Bob stirring the wok and enjoying the sounds of a new band he had just discovered and wanted to share with them.

Dr. Mullin is survived by his wife, Mary Hanlon Mullin, his children Beth (and Brian) McCoy of Fayetteville, NC, Lee Mullin (and Jonathan Nunn) of Saxapahaw, NC, Robert Mullin Jr. (and Stephanie Roussel) of Albuquerque, NM, and Edward (Teddy) Mullin of Durham, NC. He is also survived by his siblings Edward (and Cindy) Mullin Jr. of Cincinnati, OH, Helen B. Mullin (and Mary Pagurelias) of Brooklyn, NY, Joseph (and Mary) Mullin of Rochester, NY, Paul (and Patty) Mullin of Syracuse, NY, and Mary Jo (and David) Smith of Howell, NJ, and nieces and nephews (Chris, Jon, Andrew, Maggie, Jaime, John and Paul Mullin, Paige Cooke, Dan, Emily, Meghan and Mike Smith, Ryan, Kevin, Patrick, Colleen, Connor, Aiden, Brenna and Tom Hanlon, Jacob Guth, Katy Hemmah, Mary Mullin, Tim and Caitlin Skluzacek, and Erin Genereux). Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his brother William Mullin and his nephew Patrick Mullin.

The family will receive visitors at Clements Funeral Home in Durham, NC from 6 to 8 PM on Thursday, Sept 21. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, at 11 AM on Friday, Sept 22.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the V Foundation for Cancer Research.

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral Service, Inc. in Durham. Online condolences may be made at

To send flowers or a remembrance gift to the family of Dr. Robert John Mullin, please visit our Tribute Store.

Previous Events





6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Clements Funeral Home

1105 Broad St.
Durham, NC 27705

Cemetery Details


St. Matthew Catholic Church Cemetery

1001 Mason Rd
Durham, NC 27712

Memorial Contribution

V Foundation for Cancer Research

14600 Weston Parkway Cary, NC 27513

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