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The Martin Spirit

Charles Martin and the Foundation of Biological Science in Australia

The field of science in Australia would be poorer if not for Charles Martin. The indefatigable Englishman served the physiology departments of burgeoning universities in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of the 19th century, before returning home to run the Lister Institute, foremost medical research institute of the English speaking world. He set in motion Australia’s 20th century advances in medical sciences, inspiring graduates who caught “the Martin Spirit”. Forever a “bastard Australian”, he joined the AIF to tackle disease in Gallipoli; and in France became the war’s most influential adviser on disease prevention. He later returned to Australia, helping to raise the CSIRO’s standing by guiding the use of myxomatosis against rabbits, and leading advancements in the wool industry. This illustrated account of his life explores Martin’s inherent enthusiasm for experimentation, the fascinating discoveries, the quirks of his personal life, and his revolutionary role in biomedical advances.

Patricia Morison grew up in Kalgoorlie and majored in history at the Western Australian University, before working in research for the Australian Governmen, and the Greater London Council. She has contributed several entries to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, and research and wrote a full length biography of anatomist James Thomas Wilson. She lives in Canberra with her husband Ian.

Little known incredible story of man who led the war on disease, Charles Martin scholarship named after him, masterminded the myxomatosis campaign against rabbits, served in Gallipoli, ran the Lister Institute.

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