Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, a Liverpool shipowner, together with members of the business community, founded the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) in November 1898. The first of its kind in the world, LSTM was formally inaugurated (as the Liverpool School of Tropical Diseases) by Lord Lister, inventor of antiseptic and aseptic surgery, in April 1899 at a reception in the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool.
Originally based in the Thompson-Yates then later in the adjoining Johnston buildings of the University College of Liverpool, teaching began in May 1899. One of LSTM’s first appointed teachers was Ronald Ross who, in 1902, became the first British winner of a Nobel prize for medicine, when he was recognised for his discovery that malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes.
LSTM’s first laboratory in Liverpool (separate from the university) formed the right hand half of what is now the old building in Pembroke Place. During the First World War LSTM played a significant role in training Royal Army Medical Corps officers for service overseas and the new building became the Tropical Diseases Hospital, caring for a wave of soldiers falling ill with malaria. Between the war years the old building doubled to its current size.
Brian Maegraith, who had visited the laboratory as a serving Medical Officer, took a great interest in tropical medicine and became LSTM’s new Dean in 1946. Declaring that ‘our impact on the Tropics must be in the Tropics’, Professor Maegraith forged links between LSTM and many other institutions throughout the world, in particular South East Asia, where he was instrumental in the creation of the Faculty of Tropical Medicine at Bangkok.
It was in the immediate post war years that LSTM staff first came into contact with ex-Far East prisoners of war (FEPOW). The collaboration that developed between these patients and LSTM has grown and continued for over 60 years.
Post WWII the focus naturally shifted from training medical officers to training doctors in developing countries to meet the health needs of their own communities. With the transition from colonies to commonwealth, LSTM detached itself from colonial politics and economics. Lecturers maintained overseas teaching posts and the areas of medical research gradually expanded.
LSTM was challenging institutions around the world to reconsider the discipline of tropical medicine. While expansion saw the introduction of the Department of Tropical Paediatrics and Child Health in1973 and the Department of International Community Health in 1978. International Community Health in particular stretched the scope of tropical medicine. The socio economic factors involved in turning the tide on disease in developing countries, was now on the agenda.
Influencing government policies and implementation within the health sector, was crucial to ensure access and quality of health care to those who needed it most. Going beyond the confines of ‘tropical medicine’ yet again, LSTM introduced a specialist humanitarian diploma in 1997, which has since expanded to four training programmes.
In 2008 the latest development in the history of LSTM, the Centre for Tropical and Infectious Diseases (CTID), was formally opened by LSTM’s Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. CTID is a £23 million state of the art facility which puts LSTM at the forefront of infectious disease research. Today, LSTM holds a research portfolio currently worth some £192 million.