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Table of Contents


The overall structure of this memoir is:  a brief background about the Department before the arrival of Professor John Miles, then chapters about each of the major staff members, followed by summary chapters for the 1990s and 2000s and  then a comprehensive chapter on 'My Story'. 

Before John Miles

The story begins with Sydney Taylor Champtaloup, the first Professor of Bacteriology and Public Health at the Otago Medical School in 1911. The second professor was Sir Charles Hercus appointed in 1922.

John Miles

John Miles arrived in Dunedin in 1955 from Adelaide, Australia as the third professor. He set the course for the newly renamed Microbiology Department for the next 21 years. He continued to work on the epidemiology of mosquito and tick borne virus diseases.

The Loutits

John Loutit arrived in 1956 from Adelaide with his wife Margaret, who later completed her PhD in 1962 and became a member of the Microbiology staff.

Sandy Smith

Sandy completed a BSc degree in Microbiology at Otago in 1959 and later a PhD in 1964 under the supervision of Molly Marples and was appointed lecturer at Massey University. On the retirement of Molly Marples in 1967, he returned to Microbiology at Otago.

The Virus Research Unit

The Medical Research Council's Virus Research Unit (VRU) has been part of the fabric of the Department since the early days. It was established by Sir Charles Hercus in 1948.

Research Review 1970 - 1979

During the chairmanship of Professor John Miles (1955 - 1976) annual reports of the departmental research activities were regularly published and made for interesting reading decades later. 

Frank Griffin

Frank joined the Department in 1973. He must have kissed the Blarney Stone several times since he loved telling stories and anecdotes about his work and his life in the antipodes. He served as HOD of the Department from 2004 to 2012.

Gerald Tannock

Gerald's PhD supervisor was Sandy Smith in the period from 1968 to 1972. After a two-year postdoc with Dwayne Savage in the USA he returned to an academic position at Otago in 1974.

John Tagg

John joined the Department in 1975 after completing a postdoc fellowship with Lewis Wannamaker at the University of Minnesota. He brought with him a ‘passion for streptococci’ and a very engaging teaching style.

Mike Holmes

Mike Holmes joined the Department in 1976. Upon arrival, he reminded one of King Henry VIII -- in physical stature, majestic manner, intellectual and artistic abilities and temperament.

Glenn Buchan

Glenn was initially a zoology student, but in 1978 he took a postgraduate diploma in immunology and later completed a PhD in the Department in 1984. After postdoc positions in England, he was appointed to an academic staff position at Otago in 1993.

David Jones

David came from the University of Cape Town, South Africa and took up the professorship and HOD of Microbiology in February 1989. He held that position until 1996 when he became the Dean of the Otago School of Medical Sciences.

The 1990s

The ethos of the Department in the 1990s continued for the next two decades by the chairmanships of Sandy Smith and Frank Griffin.  Several new academic staff were appointed during this time.

Departmental Newsletter

The newsletters of 1994 provide the details of the Inside Story of the Department in a way that could not be otherwise possible -- warts and all. The news was about visitors, new staff, social events and interesting stories about people -- the esprit de corps. 

The 2000s

As the decade proceeded it was becoming more obvious that a changing of the guard was beginning to take place and the Department was losing some of its old ethos as  new graduates and staff joined.

The CGR Newsletters

Some of the newsletters and archival material of the Center for Gene Research are presented as an example of the research activities being carried out during its heyday.

My Story

The account of my days in the Department from my arrival in August 1969 after a postdoc at Berkeley to my retirement in April 2009. It became the Inside Story of the Department.

The Last Word

Frank Griffin as the HOD in 2010 exercised his prerogative to have the ‘Last Word’ for the book and to leave a parting  memorial video of the Departmental esprit de corps.