Menzies School of Health Research

Creation and achievements

Two workshops were convened in Darwin by Harry Giese, Chairman of the Northern Territory Committee: Living in the North (1981) and Towards a School of Health Research in the Northern Territory (1982), both published as Transactions of the Menzies Foundation.

‘As a consequence of these meetings, the Menzies School of Health Research was created in Darwin and incorporated under its own legislation on 12 December 1985…the continuing contribution made by [the School] to the health of Northern Australians is a tribute to the vision, enthusiasm and the advocacy of Harry Giese who first identified the need for such a school and who later vigorously pursued its establishment and strongly supported its work.’

Dr Eric Wrigglesworth AM, Menzies Foundation Annual Report, 1999

 ‘…I would like to make a plea to this seminar… to direct some study to the effects of climate and other factors such as social isolation on the health, fitness and physical achievement of people living in central and northern Australia.

I include in these areas large parts of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. We obviously have only minority representation in this gathering and those of us here by no means represent the rich ethnic diversity of those areas.

Amongst us are substantial remnants of a proud people who have occupied these areas for around 40,000 years. Some of them are still living close to their traditional lifestyle; many of them are only one or two generations removed from that condition. They have obviously appropriately adjusted to what, by the standards of some Australians, are considered harsh climatic conditions. Some studies by Swedish and American scientists have demonstrated their remarkable capacity to adjust to extremes of heat and cold…

We have much to learn from Aboriginal people living in these areas; we have much to understand about the adjustments which those of us who choose to live in these areas have to make, if we are to come to terms as permanent residents in this significant part of our country.’

H.C. Giese AM MBE, Chairman, Northern Territory Committee, the Menzies Foundation, Transactions of the Menzies Foundation 1, 1980

See The early days--Menzies 30th Anniversary (2015) on its Website

'What has Menzies achieved? Firstly, in partnership with NT Health and many others, Menzies has helped build up health expertise in the north. With medical student and post-graduate training in its hospitals, and with knowledge-based community interventions, the NT is now better able to deliver improved services for all its citizens. Secondly, since the Alice Springs Workshop in 1986, Menzies has pioneered new ways of working with Indigenous people and with Aboriginal Medical Services, helping them with research training and opportunities, and with translating research knowledge into improved health outcomes. Menzies also helped to establish the CRC for Aboriginal Health in 1997, with Lowitja O’Donoghue as Chair. Thirdly, world-class research at Menzies has helped to better understand and prevent low birth-weight, poor nutrition, substance abuse, otitis media and chest disease, rheumatic fever and heart disease, kidney disease, melioidosis, malaria and many other health problems of relevance to Indigenous Australians and others living in the region.’

Professor John Mathews AM, Foundation Director, Menzies School of Health Research 

See In Memoriam: Harry Christian Giese AM MBE, 1913-2000 (pages 11-13)  Menzies Foundation Annual Report 1999

For Annual Reports, Menzies School of Health Research, 1986-2013, see

See also Menzies School of Health Research/Northern Territory University Planning Authority, Darwin, 1983 at

At Charles Darwin University Library, see Brian Read, The Menzies School of Health Research: establishment, 1978-1997, 2003 at 610.7209429 REID, at Casuarina and Alice Springs

Deloitte Access Economics, Economic and Social Contribution of Menzies School of Health Research to the Northern Territory, Australia and the Asia Pacific, 2012, 610.72099429 DELO, at Casuarina Special Collection 

Harry Christian Giese Research into Action Award

Since 2013, this Award has supported dedicated and talented Menzies researchers in projects in lung health, malaria treatment, cancer care, kidney disease, diabetes in pregnancy, early childhood vaccination and malnutrition, and better mental health. The focus is on working with communities to achieve practical health outcomes, not on political agendas or campaigns. 

For 2023 Award, see

For 2013 Award, see

2015 Award: Cancer care training tools win Harry Christian Giese Research into Action Award: Professor Gail Garvey

2016 Award: Australia's first Indigenous kidney specialist wins Harry Christian Giese Award: Dr Jaqui Hughes

For 2022 Award, see

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