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Biographical entry Fairley, Neil Hamilton (1891 - 1966)


15 July 1891
Inglewood, Victoria, Australia
19 April 1966
Sonning, Berkshire, England
Malariologist and Medical scientist


Neil Fairley was a medical researcher with an international reputation in the field of tropical diseases, especially malaria. He is particularly noted for his contributions to the treatments of diseases affecting the troops during both world wars: schistosomiasis, dysenteries, typhus and malaria. In the 1920s he spent two short periods at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. During this time he worked on snake venoms and the developed diagnostic tests for hydatids. After several years in India, he establishing a practice in tropical medicine in London. Fairley enlisted again in the Australian Imperial Forces at the outbreak of WWII. In 1942 he was appointed Director of Medicine for the Australian Military Forces. His professional expertise in malaria had a profound effect on prosecution of military campaigns in Greece and the islands to Australia's north. He was appointed Chairman of the Combined Advisory Committee on Tropical Medicine Hygiene and Sanitation in 1943. After the war he returned to London where he was appointed the first Wellcome Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1968 the Royal College of Physicians, London, and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians inaugurated the Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal.



Education - MB BS, University of Melbourne
1915 - 1916
Career position - Resident Medical Officer, Melbourne Hospital
1916 - 1918
Career position - Served with the Australian Army Medical Corps
Education - MD, University of Melbourne
Award - Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Education - Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, University of Cambridge
Education - Member, Royal College of Physicians, London
1920 - 1922
Career position - Research Assistant, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
1922 - 1925
Career position - Medical Research Officer, Bombay Bacteriological Laboratory and Honorary Consulting Physician, Jansitjee Jijibhoy and St George’s Hospital, Bombay, India
Education - DSc, University of Melbourne
1927 - 1929
Career position - Research Assistant, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
Career position - Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London
1929 - 1940
Career position - Assistant Physician and Director of Pathology, Hospital for Tropical Diseases, London
Award - Chalmers Memorial Medal for Research in Tropical Medicine
1939 - 1946
Career position - Served with Australian Imperial Forces
1940 - 1966
Career position - Fellow, Royal Australasian College of Physicians
Award - Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
1942 - 1946
Career position - Director of Medicine for Australian military forces
1942 - 1966
Award - Fellow, Royal Society, London
Award - Bancroft Medal, Australian Medical Association
Award - Richard Pierson Strong Medal, American Foundation of Tropical Medicine
1946 - 1949
Career position - Wellcome Professor of Clinical Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Award - Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Award - Moxon Medal, Royal College of Physicians, London
Award - Honorary MD, University of Adelaide
Award - Mary Kingsley Medal, University of Liverpool
Award - Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)
Award - Manson Medal, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, London
Award - James Cook Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales
Award - Honorary LLD, University of Melbourne
1951 - 1953
Career position - President, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hy
Award - Honorary DSc, University of Sydney
Award - Buchanan Medal, Royal Society, London

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Neil Hamilton Fairley - Records, 1916 - 1991, MS 065; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Burnet, Macfarlane, Sir, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, 1915-1965 (Carlton, Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 1971), 193 pp. Details
  • Ford, Edward, Neil Hamilton Fairley (1891 - 1966) (Sydney: Australasian Medical Publishing Company, 1969), 19 pp. Details
  • Howie-Willis, Ian, An unending war: the Australian Army's struggle against malaria 1885 - 2015 (Newport (N.S.W.): Big Sky Publishing, 2016), 348 pp. Details
  • McDonald, G. L., Roll of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (Sydney: Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1988), 332 pp. Details

Book Sections

  • Fenner, Frank, 'Fairley, Sir Neil Hamilton (1891-1966), Physician, Medical Scientist and Army Officer' in Australian Dictionary of Biography, John Ritchie, ed., vol. 14 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1996), pp. 128-131. Details

Journal Articles

  • 'Obituaries: Sir Neil Hamilton Fairley; Thelma Isabel Christie: E. J. Kenny; Stephen Lawrence Leach; Henry John Meldrum; Archibald Boscawen Boyd Ranclaud; Arthur Spencer Watts', Journal and Proceedings of The Royal Society of New South Wales, 101 (1967), 47-50. Details
  • Boyd, John, 'Neil Hamilton Fairley 1891-1966, elected F.R.S. 1942', Biographical Memoirs Fellows of the Royal Society, 12 (1966), 123-45. Details
  • Howie-Willis, Ian, 'Australian malariology during World War II (part 3 of "Pioneers of Australian military malariology"', Journal of Military and Veteran's History, 25 (2) (2017), 46-68. Details
  • Keogh, E. V., 'Neil Hamilton Fairley', Medical Journal of Australia, 1966 (2) (1966), 723-6. Details
  • Winkel, Kenneth D., Mirtschin, Peter and Pearn, John, 'Twentieth Century Toxinology and Antivenom development in Australia', Toxicon, 48 (7) (2006), 738-754 . Details


Resource Sections

See also

  • Fenner, F., 'Frank Macfarlane Burnet, 1899-1985', Historical Records of Australian Science, 7 (1) (1987), 39-77. Details
  • Howie-Willis, Ian, 'Malariology in Australia between the first and second world wars (part 2 of "Pioneers of Australian military malariology")', Journal of Military and Veterans' Health, 24 (2) (2016), 28-39. Details
  • Spencer, Margaret, Malaria: the Australian Experience, 1843-1991 (Townsville: Australian College of Tropical Medicine, 1994), 213 pp. Details

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn