Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Ronald Ross

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.

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.

Professor Brian Maegraith

In 1946, the appointment of LSTM’s longest serving Dean, Brian Maegraith, marked a broadening of the School’s size and curriculum. Maegraith famously declared ‘Our impact on the tropics should be in the tropics!’ which resulted in the school forging links with other research institutions across the globe and bringing research innovations to those most in need. An ongoing example of this is the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme which conducts research into local diseases of importance to Malawi.

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.

Professor Janet Hemingway spearheaded a period of large investment and expansion when she became Director in 2001. LSTM was awarded higher education institution status in 2013 and was granted Degree Awarding Powers in 2017.

As of 2019 LSTM is directed by Professor David Lalloo.