The Hanson Institute is the research division of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science providing facilities for medical researchers on the campus including staff of the Royal Adelaide Hospital in close collaboration with the University of Adelaide. The IMVS and RAH provide significant support to ensure the success of the Hanson Institute, which is now the largest Medical Institute in South Australia and one of the top five in Australia.
The Hanson Centre for Cancer Research was established in 1991 with the aid of a start-up grant from South Australia's Anti-Cancer Foundation* and major funding from the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF). The new research area was constructed within the existing IMVS building infrastructure and combined the research arms of the Divisions of Human Immunology and Haematology of the IMVS. At that stage, these divisions shared a major interest in leukaemia research which had made significant advances and attracted substantial external funding from grant-giving bodies as well as commercial interest. There followed a rapid growth in staff numbers and in the Hanson's reputation as an increasingly significant player among Australia's leading medical research institutes.
In 2001 the Hanson Institute was launched to encompass all research on the campus of the IMVS and the RAH with a organisational structure and new logo. This change was brought about because the Hanson has grown and matured to embrace many fields of research in addition to cancer. The Hanson Institute now incorporates the Centre for Cancer Research and four other centres including the Centre for Bone and Joint Research, Clinical Research Centre, Centre for Neurological Diseases and the Centre for Biomedical Research. A new research building was completed allowing for a strategic expansion of research into solid tumours. The Institute is continuing to ensure its success through the strategic identification of research needs and recruitment of high calibre scientists.
Thus the Hanson Institute is dedicated to excellence in basic and clinical research on the campus of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science (IMVS) and Royal Adelaide Hospital. Its primary goals are to make fundamental biological and biomedical discoveries, to provide an environment of world-class facilities necessary for conducting research at an international level and to establish the important linkage between basic scientists and clinicians thus facilitating the full development and application of the therapeutic potential of basic science discoveries.
*In July 2002 the Anti-Cancer Foundation changed its name to The Cancer Council South Australia.
Dr Bertram Speakman HANSON
The Hanson Centre for Cancer Research (now Hanson Institute) was named after Dr Bertram Speakman HANSON, CMG, DSO, OBE, MID, ED.
The following are excerpts taken from the eulogy given by Dr B Cornish on 27 December 1999 at Dr Hanson's funeral
Bertram Speakman Hanson (Bill) was born on the 6/1/1905, the eldest of seven children, his father a public accountant.
He was educated at at St Peters College, and proceeded to the Adelaide Medical School, from which he graduated in 1928. His sports were tennis and Australian Rules footy; in the latter he was selected in an All-Australian University Team.
As a young graduate he soon became interested in cancer treatment, at that time, as now, a major medical problem, but then with very limited facilities; the issues were being driven by the prominent clinician Dr FS Hone. Radium needles were the new therapeutic weapon and Bill, as the first incumbent to the post entitled ‘registrar’ in radiotherapy, along with Dr Kay Scott of Melbourne, were the first to use radium in this form in Australia. He held the post until his war service, the start of his lifelong commitment to the field.
Bill married Mayne and they had four children, three before the war broke out. During the war Bill served with the 2nd AIF in the 2/6th Australian Field Ambulance and he was soon picked out for his leadership qualities.
Later he was appointed CO of the 2/8 Field Ambulance, with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He took to the unit to the Middle East where it performed with great distinction and shared the fortunes of the illustrious 9th Division in the Western Desert campaigns including the siege of Tobruk and the crucial battle of El Alamein .
He was held with great esteem by the unit and was presented with many awards including an OBE in 1942 and the DSO in 1944, the latter linked with the caption “. . . for conspicuous service, gallantry and devotion to duty”.
He refused a promotion which would have meant him leaving his beloved 8 Field Ambulance, an affinity which was to be strongly reciprocated by the unit. He regularly attended reunions long after the war and of course led the unit in Anzac Day marches for scores of years.
He later became a Colonel ADMS 9th Division based in Lae, New Guinea, with service concluding in 1945 – returning then to hearth and home with his family flourishing. Bill Hanson then joined the staff of the RAH as radiotherapist.
It was the broader aspects of cancer which became his great interest and challenge, devoting his energies to improving services to the extent that the name Hanson was synonymous in the 1950’s with the Anti-Cancer Campaign and its successor the Anti-Cancer Foundation, he being chairman for at least 2 decades.
There were many ramifications within this activity; one was the procurement of the first linear accelerator in South Australia. The cost was great and needed specific Government approval. Bill had the Premier on-side but there were reservations in parliament. To clarify the issue, with a recess in House of Assembly proceedings, Tom Playford - and apparently not for the first time, crossed North Terrace to sit in Bill’s waiting room in the Bank of New South Wales to catch him between patients, for quick clarification; he then returned to the House and of course - fixed it. As an aside it seems to say something of the simplicities of the era and also something of the particular interpersonal relationships.
The Anti-Cancer activities took Bill nationally and internationally, they extended into related fields such as academia and research funding, oncology and support services.
Many awards and accolades flowed in Bill’s direction, including his third Imperial honour - in 1963 he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George for ‘extensive services to medicine’.
In seeking a name for the research arm of the RAH/IMVS, Bill Hanson received universal support.
The Hanson Centre for Cancer Research was launched (which in September 2001 was renamed The Hanson Institute).
Our thanks to Dr B Cornish for permission to reprint parts of the eulogy. Brian Cornish, orthopaedic surgeon, Royal Adelaide Hospital, was a friend and colleague of Bill Hanson.