Queensland Institute of Medical Research

1945 saw the establishment of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR). Since that time, the QIMR has become a world leading medical research institute, focusing on cancer, infectious diseases and mental health.

The genesis of the QIMR was in October 1944, when Dr Edward Derrick, Director of the Laboratory of Microbiology and Pathology was asked to investigate the extension of medical research in Queensland by the State Government.

Derrick recommended that a Medical Research Advisory Committee be formed to oversee the establishment of an Institute of Medical Research. This committee was formed in April 1945 with Derrick as Chairman. The committee’s recommendations formed the basis of the Bill tabled in the Queensland Parliament on September 6, 1945. The Queensland Institute of Medical Research Act of 1945 was gazetted on 19 January 1945. Initially the purpose of the QIMR was to research diseases such as Q fever, scrub typhus and leptospirosis.

A council was formed to manage and control the Institute. The first meeting of the council was held on February 8 1946. The first Chairman was Sir Raphael Cilento M.D., who was Director-General of Health and Medical Services in Queensland, 1934-45 and Professor of Social and Tropical Medicine at the University of Queensland. Also on the council was Dr Abraham Fryberg, State Health Officer and deputy-chairman on the council, and Dr Aubrey Pye, General Medical Superintendent at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, 1932-67.

Dr Edward Holbrook Derrick, 1940.

Dr Edward Holbrook Derrick, 1940.

Sir Raphael Cilento, June 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 188180

Sir Raphael Cilento, June 1945. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 188180

Dr Aubrey Pye. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 108297

Dr Aubrey Pye. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 108297

The Institute was allowed to set up premises in a disused army building in Victoria Park. The building was 252 feet (77 metres) by 47 feet (14 metres), with 11,844 square feet (1,100 square metres) of floor space. According to the 1946 annual report for QIMR, practically all their equipment was obtained from the recently disbanded Land Headquarters Medical Research Unit in Cairns, and included centrifuges, dissecting microscopes, a vacuum pressure pump and a hot-air oven. The annual report also states that the Institute library collection had begun growing with the purchase of £148 of books and the Health Department donating back issues of various scientific journals.

Doctor I. M. Mackerras. First director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 195470

Doctor I. M. Mackerras. First director of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 195470

QIMR was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame in 2010.

You can browse our collection of publications and images related to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research via our One Search catalogue.

State Library of Queensland also hold 30400 Q Fever Research Papers 1930-1960 – papers and correspondence relating to Q Fever studies by Dr Edward Holbrook Derrick, 1898-1976, including first 300 cases of the disease, laboratory notes, original photographs and correspondence from France and French Africa regarding the disease.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

Previously titled – 70th anniversary – Queensland Institute of Medical Research