Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research is one of Australia's foremost medical research institutes. Located in Parkville, Melbourne, it is closely associated with the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital.


The institute was founded in 1915 using funds from a trust established by the family of Eliza and Walter Russell Hall. It owed its origin to the inspiration of Harry Brookes Allen. It was Australia’s first medical research institute and adopted a crest bearing the Latin inscription "Fiat Lux" – Let there be light.

In April 1915 the new Melbourne Hospital agreed to provide a home for the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Research in Pathology and Medicine, as it was then known. Tragically, a few days later, the new Institute's director-designate, Gordon C.Mathieson, suffered fatal wounds in the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli

Dr Sydney Patterson was the first director and took up his post in 1919. Patterson resigned and returned to England in 1923, and was followed by Charles Kellaway (1923-1944).

Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet was the institute director between 1944 and 1965, and he brought the institute to international prominence for virological research, especially influenza, and then for immunology. Such was the nature of Burnet’s achievement that he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1960.

Sir Gustav Nossal succeeded Burnet as director in 1965, aged 35. Under his stewardship, the Institute grew in size and scope, with its scientists making important discoveries in the control of immune system responses, cell cycle regulation and malaria. During this time, the group led by Donald Metcalf discovered and characterised the colony-stimulating factors (CSFs).

Since 1996, it has been led by Professor Suzanne Cory.

Current research

Currently the work of the Institute is centered on cancer, the immune system,
autoimmune diseases – such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritismalaria, neural development, genetics and drug discovery.

The institute is organised into the following eight divisions: Cancer and Haematology (headed by Professor Nick Nicola), Molecular Genetics of Cancer (jointly headed by Professors Jerry Adams and Andreas Strasser), Immunology (Dr Phil Hodgkin), Infection and Immunity (Professor Alan Cowman), Autoimmunity and Transplantation (Professor Len Harrison), Structural Biology (Professor Peter Colman), Bioinformatics (Professor Terry Speed) and Molecular Medicine (Professor Doug Hilton).


The institute forms the department of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne; graduate students enrolled at the University who undertable research at the institute can obtain a Bachelor of Science (Honours) or Doctor of Philosophy degree; medical students can also study for Advanced Medical Science. Undergraduate students can also be part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). During the 2005–2006 financial year 17 students obtained a PhD at the WEHI, while 17 obtained a Bachelor of Science (Honours). As of June 2006, the Institute hosts 60 PhD students. [Annual Report 2005–2006, 126–129.]

The Institute is also part of the Gene Technology Access Centre, located next to the Institute building at University High School, which provides education programs in molecular and cell biology for secondary students in Victoria.


In 2005, the Institute celebrated the 90th anniversary of its founding. At this occasion, the State of Victoria and the Commonwealth of Australia each provided $AU50 million which will be used to construct a new wing to the west of the current building in Parkville, effectively doubling the size of laboratory space. [Annual Report 2005–2006, p. 5]



* Max Charlesworth, Lyndsay Farrall, Terry Stokes and David Turnbull (1989). "Life among the scientists: An Anthropological Study of an Australian Scientific Community". Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-554999-6.
* Frank Fenner and Suzanne Cory. " [ The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute] ". 23 July 1997, on the website of the Nobel Prize Foundation. Last accessed 10 April 2007.
* [ WEHI Annual reports] ; partially available on the web starting from the 1997–1998 annual report.

External links

* [ Walter and Eliza Hall, Biography]
* [ The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research home page]
* [ Profile of the Institute]
* [ Gene Technology Access Centre]

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