Celebrating 100 years of the Kolling Institute

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For any organisation, turning 100 is a remarkable achievement. It is especially significant for a research institute which began after the First World War, during a time of uncertainty and austerity. It was the vision and tenacity of two men in particular which helped to build what was originally known as the Institute of Pathological Research of NSW and is today the Kolling Institute. It is the longest-running medical research institute in New South Wales, and has held a key role in research activities for a century. This is an extraordinary milestone and one worth celebrating. This newsletter gives an insight into the first years of the Kolling, the dynamic people who helped to drive the institute and its early research facilities, a stark contrast from today’s infrastructure and technological advances. We discover more around the humble beginnings of the institute, where a small workman’s cottage at Royal North Shore Hospital housed the original research activity and very basic facilities. The newsletter highlights the tremendous contribution of director Dr Wilson Ingram, who established the first diabetic clinic in Australia. A remarkable man, he accompanied Sir Douglas Mawson on two Antarctic expeditions as medical officer and research scientist.

We learn about the infrastructure improvements and the generous philanthropic funding from local resident Eva Kolling, which was crucial to the development of the Kolling building. There are insights too into the incredible partnership between Wilson Ingram and Assistant Director Max Lemberg, a partnership which lasted nearly 40 years and instigated tremendous change. As we celebrate 100 years of research excellence at the Kolling, it’s important to not only recognise the pioneers, but the many people who have helped to bring the Kolling to where it is today, the hundreds of researchers, support personnel and executive teams. I would like to acknowledge your efforts to deliver quality research and better health outcomes. I would also like to highlight the dedication of past directors Rob Baxter and Jonathan Morris and current Executive Director Carolyn Sue, who are all driven by a life-long commitment to medical research and improving patient care. You have been instrumental in developing the Kolling as a centre of translational research excellence. Today, the Kolling has hundreds of experienced and dedicated researchers, investigating some of the biggest health challenges of our time from heart disease and musculoskeletal conditions to chronic pain and genetic conditions.

Many of our researchers are world leaders in their field, combining clinical roles within Royal North Shore Hospital with research positions within the Kolling. These roles inform each other, and importantly, ensure our research leads to the best health and patient outcomes. I would like to thank Royal North Shore Hospital’s archivist Catherine Storey for her special contribution to this newsletter and her invaluable knowledge of the history of the Kolling. It is remarkable that we have such a good collection of high quality images from nearly a hundred years ago, and I would like to acknowledge Catherine and her team for their work with the Royal North Shore Hospital Archive and Heritage Collection. Through the detailed and authentic historical record, we have a clearer understanding of the Kolling’s first pivotal years and the pioneering men and women who supported the Kolling, and established its reputation for research excellence. That reputation continues today and will be consistently strengthened with our current impressive team of researchers.

Professor Chris Little Acting Executive Director



From opposite sides of the trenches: the two pioneers of the Kolling Institute, 1920–1974 Royal North Shore Hospital archivist Catherine Storey details how the institute that has investigated the “common diseases of mankind” for 100 years was established by an unlikely partnership.

Dr. W. WIlson Ingram (seated), Honorary Director of the Kolling Institute from 1930-1974 and Professor Max Lemberg, the Assistant Director of Biochemist from 1935-1972.

During the First World War, two young men served with distinction on opposite sides of the battlefields in France. One, WilliamWilson Ingram was wounded in action, “mentioned in despatches”, and awarded the Military Cross by the British government. The other, Max Rudolf Lemberg was awarded the Iron Cross after being wounded in the Somme offensive of March 1918.

Despite being on opposing sides of this appalling conflict, they later formed a partnership in Sydney, together laying the foundations for the Kolling Institute of Medical Research at Royal North Shore Hospital. The Kolling, which traces its origin to the Institute of Pathological Research in 1920, is the oldest medical research organisation in NSW. In this, its centenary year, it is an opportune time to explore the contributions of its two remarkable pioneers.



WilliamWilson Ingram (1888–1982) MC, MB, ChB, MD (Aberdeen), FRACP WilliamWilson Ingram graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1912. On the declaration of war, he enlisted in the Royal Medical Corps. He served in France, where he received the Military Medal in 1915. He was wounded and returned to England. In 1916, Captain Ingram resumed active service, and ultimately took command of the pathology services at the headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force in France. After the War, Ingram completed a medical degree at Aberdeen. He then accepted the post of lecturer in physiology at the University of Sydney, and also established a general medical practice. In 1921, Ingram was appointed honorary pathologist at Royal North Shore Hospital where, in addition to supervising the routine pathology service, he founded the Institute of Pathological Research.

After the move into the new building, which provided much needed laboratory space and a library, and to re-emphasise its focus on research into common medical conditions, the institute was renamed the Institute of Medical Research. Ingram was appointed honorary director, a position he held until his retirement in 1974. When Rudd

The Institute of Pathological Research of New South Wales

resigned in 1934, Ingram was unable to recruit a suitably qualified Australian-based scientist, and extended his search overseas. Max Rudolf Lemberg, with a 14-year background in biochemical research and working in Cambridge after fleeing Hitler’s Germany, applied for the position. Max Rudolf Lemberg (1896–1975) Max Rudolf (Rudi) Lemberg was born in Breslau (Silesia; now Wrocław, Poland), where he graduated in science in 1916. In mid-1917, he enlisted in the German army as a private, a gunner in the field artillery. Lemberg was wounded in action during the Somme offensive of March 1918, his bravery recognised with the Iron Cross. These experiences had a profound effect on Lemberg, who became a convinced pacifist. He later joined the Society of Friends in Sydney. In 1922, he completed a doctorate in Breslau under Heinrich Blitz, an organic chemist. Blitz strongly advised him against an academic career, citing the poor prospects for a scientist of Jewish descent in any German university. After a period as an industrial chemist with Boehringer in Mannheim, he returned to academic life in Heidelberg in 1926. Equipped with a Rockefeller Foundation scholarship, he moved to Cambridge to study with Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins in the Institute of Biochemistry. He then returned to Heidelberg, but Lemberg later recalled that “the Nazi shadows began rapidly to gather”, and in 1933 his academic career came to an abrupt halt. He realised that, despite his war service and Iron Cross, he was unlikely to escape ending in a concentration camp. Lemberg fled Germany and returned to Cambridge, which at the time was full of highly qualified refugees from Germany, and not all could stay. Lemberg successfully applied for the position of director of the biochemical laboratories at Royal North Shore Hospital, going “into the wilderness, for I did not expect inspiration from my Australian colleagues at that time.”

In 1920, a group of influential NSW citizens proposed a research institute for investigating the “common diseases of mankind”, inspired by the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine in London. They launched an appeal for establishing the Institute of Pathological Research of New South Wales. Initial donations were disappointingly few, but after Thomas Rofe, a member of the hospital board donated £5000, the institute was ready to proceed in 1923. These funds facilitated the appointment of G. Vincent Rudd, senior biochemist, as its first fulltime research scientist in 1925. Later that year, Ingram returned to London for postgraduate study, during which he observed the clinical effects of the newly discovered insulin. On his return to Royal North Shore Hospital, he established one of the first specialist diabetes clinics in Australia. He later collaborated with Rudd on the significant and popular text, The diagnosis and treatment of diabetes , published in 1933. By 1928, space at the institute was at a premium, and as it expanded in scope and personnel, more convenient, fully equipped laboratories were urgently required. Ingram invited Eva Kolling, the widow of American-born merchant, Charles Kolling, to tour the original hospital cottage that now served as a laboratory. Mrs Kolling was suitably impressed by the standard of clinical research carried out in extremely cramped conditions. With the opportunity to commit funds to commemorate her husband, but also because “many lives will be spared and humanity assisted generally”, she donated £5000, a sum matched by the NSW Government. Ingram drew up plans for the “Charles Kolling Memorial Laboratory” shortly before his departure as medical officer with Douglas Mawson and the British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition. Eva Kolling laid the foundation stone for the new laboratory in 1930 and, after Ingram returned from his second Antarctic expedition, she officially opened the new facility on 12 September 1931.



Eva Kolling sets foundation stone for Kolling Building

After a final and risky visit to his ageing parents in Breslau, Lemberg and his wife arrived in Sydney on 1 October 1936. Australia must have seemed remote from his academic life in Heidelberg and Cambridge, especially as “there was little space for research and hardly any equipment.” Nevertheless, Ingram and Lemberg established a good partnership, Ingram as the director of the Institute of Medical Research and Lemberg later as assistant director until his retirement in 1972. Ingram managed the administration and provided the clinical input, while Lemberg undertook fundamental scientific research, primarily into porphyrins and tetrapyrrole metabolism. This research strengthened the institute’s scientific reputation. The institute during the Second World War During the Second World War, Ingram enlisted in the Australian Army Medical Corps and served as Lieutenant-Colonel until 1944. Lemberg remained in his laboratory, contributing to the war effort with research into the metabolism of trinitrotoluene (TNT) in animals, the role of sulphonamides in bacterial metabolism, and the preparation of X-ray contrast media, among other topics. Eva Kolling, who remained one of the most significant supporters of the institute, died in 1941, and left an extraordinary bequest of £25 000 to support and expand the work of the institute and the Charles Kolling Memorial Laboratory. The Institute of Medical Research, 1945–1974 In 1948, Royal North Shore Hospital became a teaching hospital of the University of Sydney. In 1950, Ingram created a Unit of Clinical Investigation within the Institute of Medical Research, under the direction of Frank Rundle, later founding Dean and Professor of Surgery of the University of New South Wales. A new teaching block in 1963 provided additional facilities for the institute, and a closer relationship with the clinical school The text on pages 3-5 is reproduced from the Medical Journal of Australia (213: 511-513, 2020) by kind permission of AMPCo.

developed. In 1964, routine hospital pathology moved from the Kolling laboratories into stage one of the new hospital complex, so that the Institute of Medical Research was free, for the first time, to concentrate solely on research. Lemberg continued his basic biochemical research. In 1949 he published his monograph on Hematin compounds and bile pigments , which became a standard text in the field of tetrapyrroles and confirmed his international scientific reputation. In 1952, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and in 1955 was elected the first president of the Australian Biochemical Society. His scientific output was prodigious, encompassing more than 200 scientific publications. After Ingram and Lemberg: the Kolling Institute of Medical Research Following the retirements of Ingram and Lemberg, David Nelson, clinician and researcher, was appointed the first full-time director from 1974–1989. From 1971, the institute was commonly known as the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, and, under Nelson’s direction, concentrated on the emerging discipline of clinical immunology. Under its third director from 1994–2011, Robert Baxter, the Kolling focused on endocrinology and cell biology. In 2008, the various research laboratories were all relocated to a new purpose-built facility on the Royal North Shore Hospital campus. With the appointment of Jonathan Morris as its fourth director in 2012, the academic research focus of the Kolling broadened to ensure that medical research findings informed clinical practice. Carolyn Sue was appointed the fifth director in 2019. The institute now hosts numerous research teams investigating an extensive range of medical conditions. The Kolling Institute of 2020 has thereby remained true to the original charter of the Institute of Pathological research in 1920, investigating the “common diseases of mankind.”



This collection of images gives an insight into the first days of the Kolling Institute and some of the key people who helped ensure its success.

By 1929, the small cottage Oakleigh was not large enough for the expanding service. On one occasion Eva Kolling OBE, who was already a generous benefactor of the hospital, was visiting Royal North Shore Hospital. Director Wilson Ingram took the opportunity to give her a tour of the laboratories highlighting that although great work was being done, there was a distinct lack of space. Mrs Kolling was very impressed and pledged a sum of money, matched by the NSW Government to build laboratories as a memorial to her husband Charles Kolling. In September 1931, Eva Kolling turned the key in the lock of the new Charles Kolling Memorial Laboratory in the presence of the Chief Justice and Lady Street, Judge Thomson, President of the hospital and about 1000 local residents. This two-storey building was then state of the art.

Images and historical content: Archive and Heritage Collection, Royal North Shore Hospital, with kind permission



The plan for an Institute of Pathological Research was proposed in 1920, however, the expected donations were slow to materialise. In 1923, a local businessman Thomas E Rofe provided £5000. Rofe’s son had recently died of the complications of diabetes, and so one of the first projects of the institute was to investigate this disease. The hospital provided one of the workmen’s cottages along Reserve Road which had been resumed for the hospital’s expansion. The institute continued in this cottage until the opening of the Kolling Laboratories in 1931.

The routine pathology for the hospital was done in these laboratories of the Institute of Pathological Research. One of the main infectious diseases seen in hospitalised children was diphtheria. These children were managed in a special infectious diseases block away from the main hospital. Ready access to pathology facilities was essential.

This is the original laboratory of the Institute of Pathological Research with G.Vincent Rudd, the research scientist. Prior to the institute, pathology tests, which usually involved urinalysis, and looking at simple bacteriological slides, were done in a small room off one of the original wards.

Wilson Ingram worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the Institute of Pathological Research. With the opening of the new laboratories, he suggested a name change to the Institute of Medical Research which better reflected the nature of the activities. By this time Ingram had already set up the first diabetic clinic in Australia. His focus was now on research into the common diseases of mankind.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge opened on 19th March 1932. In the early days of the hospital, pathology specimens were collected on the ward and at the end of the day, then taken on the ferry from Milson’s Point to the Department of Health. The results were collected the following day. When the bridge opened in 1932, the population of the North Shore rapidly expanded leading to the growth of Royal North Shore Hospital.

Images and historical content: Archive and Heritage Collection, Royal North Shore Hospital, with kind permission



G. Vincent Rudd was the first full time research scientist employed at Royal North Shore Hospital from 1925-1934. He had previously worked at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories which had been set up in 1916 to service the nation isolated in the First World War, and so was already well qualified. During his time at the hospital he received a Doctor of Science for his research work on gastric secretions. He resigned in 1934 to start a medical degree at the University of Melbourne. He served in the AIF from 1940-46 and returned to Royal North Shore Hospital in 1954 as a consultant haematologist.

In addition to research activity, the staff of the Institute of Medical Research were also responsible for all of the routine pathology tests for the hospital.

By the mid-1940s and following the Second World War, there was an expanding demand for the services of the pathology department as well as the growing research activity which followed the arrival of Max Lemberg. In 1941 Eva Kolling died leaving a very generous legacy which allowed the addition of a third storey to the existing building. In 1948 Royal North Shore Hospital became a teaching hospital of the University of Sydney. Initially, students were housed around the hospital campus but from the 1960s a clinical block was built adjacent to and integrated with the Kolling. This shows the Kolling before the addition of the clinical block. These were demolished in Royal North Shore Hospital’s building program in the newmillenniumwhich saw the construction not only of a new Kolling building but also an acute services block.

Images and historical content: Archive and Heritage Collection, Royal North Shore Hospital, with kind permission



Pioneering female scientist Dr E Beatrix Durie had a Bachelor of Science and then graduated MB ChM from Sydney University in 1923. Her training in pathology and her medical career as a woman are both typical of the time. She completed her resident years at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and at the Children’s Hospital, but it was difficult for female graduates to gain further positions at public hospitals so she joined the Education Department as a schools medical officer. In 1928 she did get a position as a resident pathologist at Royal Newcastle Hospital and in 1929 went to England for post-graduate experience. She returned to Royal Prince Alfred in 1930 as a biochemist and later was appointed pathologist at Royal North Shore Hospital in 1940, during the war years, when many of the men were on active service. Dr Durie served in this position until 1964, as the first ‘staff specialist’ and later Head of Department. In 1963, having reached the compulsory retirement age, she became a consultant

microbiologist and continued her invaluable work in medical mycology. She published extensively during her time at the Institute of Medical Research, gaining an international reputation for her expertise in the field. Dr Durie was very well regarded by her colleagues.

Royal North Shore Hospital 1935

Wilson Ingram (left) Max Lemberg (middle) and Sir Lincoln Hynes – Chairman of the Board at the retirement Lemberg 12th May 1972

The Kolling pioneers Max Lemberg and Wilson Ingram forged a successful and influential partnership of nearly 40 years. The pair had been instrumental in the development of the institute from a small organisation to a well-respected research centre, investigating key health issues. Wilson Ingram had dedicated 58 years’ of service to Royal North Shore Hospital – the longest in the hospital’s history and a remarkable life-long contribution.

Images and historical content: Archive and Heritage Collection, Royal North Shore Hospital, with kind permission



The Kolling today brings together a diverse and talented group of researchers to investigate some of the biggest health challenges of our time. With world leading expertise, we are well placed to directly incorporate scientific discoveries into clinical practice, and greatly improve health outcomes. Our research teams are supported by valuable partnerships and sophisticated facilities not available a century ago.

Dr Karin Aubrey and Dr Yo Otsu

Kolling cyrotank



A/Prof Xin Ming Chen

Dr Razia Zakarya, AProf Viive Howell and Dr Emily Colvin

Erandhi Liyanage and Gayathiri Rajakumar

Biomedical engineering lab, Dylan Ashton

Yolanda Liu and Shihani Stoner

Dr Lara Bereza-Malcolm

Dr Cindy Shu




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