The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) is currently one of the largest and most successful medical research institutes in Australia. QIMR was created largely as a result of the pioneering vision of Dr Edward Derrick (1898-1976), a Director of the Queensland State Health Department Laboratory of Microbiology and Pathology. During his research into Q fever, scrub typhus and leptospirosis, Derrick became aware of the pressing need for an institute specifically designed to investigate infectious diseases in northern Australia. QIMR commenced operations in 1947 with seven people in a disused World War II US Army hut in Victoria Park. This ‘temporary’ accommodation lasted until 1977, when the Institute moved to new laboratories in the grounds of the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Dr Ian Mackerras (Director of QIMR 1947-1961), a prominent entomologist, and Derrick (Director from 1961), moulded the initial direction and vision of QIMR. Today, QIMR scientists and researchers investigate over forty different medical issues, including various forms of cancer, genetic, infectious and liver diseases, mental and indigenous health.
Some of its many distinguished achievements include: identification of causes of melanoma as well as its treatment and prevention; development of environmentally friendly mosquito breeding control programs directed against dengue fever, leading to the successful elimination of the breeding of dengue-fever-carrying mosquitoes in 42 Vietnamese communities; discovery of the Ross River Virus; commencement of trials for a vaccine to prevent rheumatic heart disease; and the discovery that the genetic risk of schizophrenia results from thousands of genetic variations common to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Construction of a new $179m research complex will facilitate an increase in QIMR’s overall capacity to approximately 1,200 scientists and support staff. The development has been funded through Federal and State Government initiatives and its largest-ever philanthropic donation, totalling $27.5 million, from The Atlantic Philanthropies. Clive Berghofer has also provided substantial philanthropic support.
With a mission to prevent and cure disease through research, QIMR actively supports scientists who aim to improve the health and well-being of all people through world class research and its commercialisation. Its growth from a local institute into one which is nationally and internationally significant can be attributed to a culture of excellence and innovation among its scientists and the leadership of its successive directors and governing board.