The Institute of Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine

In 1947 the Institute of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine started on its research activities, especially into the problems of poliomyelitis, scarlet fever, whooping cough and the spread of infectious disease in the metropolitan area. 

Following the death in 1948 of Dr. A. E. Platt, who was the Director of the Institute, Dr. N. F. Stanley, D.Sc., was appointed Acting Director and carried on the work of the newly formed virus research group.

This was the first virus diagnostic laboratory to be established in New South Wales and was able to report the discovery of the widespread occurrence in Australia of the Coxsackie group of viruses, as far north as Brisbane. Group B of these viruses causes Bornholm disease.

Much research was done on the mild but explosive outbreak of encephalitis in the Sydney metropolitan area in January 1952.

Work on the polio viruses progressed satisfactorily and the laboratory was able to detect the presence of antibodies in a case of poliomyelitis within seventy-two hours, and to isolate and type the virus itself within eight days.

This gave confirmation of the clinical diagnosis and increased the accuracy of the clinical work in the hospital. The phenomenon of attenuation of the polio virus after repeated passages through mice was noted, and the possibility that these attenuated strains could be used for developing a living polio vaccine was realized up to the point of human experimentation.

Mr. E. J. Hallstrom (later Sir Edward) gave much valuable assistance in this project over the years. A grant of &1,500 was made to the Institute by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the laboratory was recognized as a virus reference laboratory.

The State Cancer Council provided funds for research into the antigenic structure of cancer cells by tissue culture techniques.

This work was in the early stages when Dr. Stanley was appointed to the Chair of Bacteriology at the University of Perth, Western Australia, and he resigned from the Institute, the activities of which unfortunately came to an end.