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2016: Dr Ross Jones

Scholarly article: Kill or cure? Tuberculosis, tuberculin and the Melbourne medical scene in the 1890s

Ross's project will re-create the story of tuberculin in Melbourne, using multiple archival and manuscript sources from the collections of both State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne.

Tuberculosis was one of the great scourges of the industrialised world in the late 19th century. Therefore, when the world-famous German scientist Robert Koch announced in 1890 that he had produced a cure (in the form of a substance called 'tuberculin'), it created a worldwide sensation. Australian medical scientists at the Melbourne Medical School rushed to obtain drug samples and the information to produce the drug at home.

The new 'germ theory' of disease was a controversial topic in Melbourne Medical circles. But how did the failure of tuberculin to live up to its promise affect the perception of germ theory in the public and medical profession?

Ross's research will result in a scholarly article, and contributions to an exhibition on infectious diseases at Museum Victoria in 2016 and on John W Springthorpe (Melbourne's tuberculin champion) at the Medical History Museum at the University of Melbourne.

Dr Ross Jones completed his PhD in the Education Faculty at Monash University in 2001. He also has a Masters in Educational Studies from Monash and a BA (Hons) and Dip Ed from the University of Melbourne.

For 20 years Ross taught in schools across Australia and in the UK. More recently he has taught graduate and postgraduate courses at the University of Melbourne in the history of medicine and biology.

Ross has published widely in the areas of the history of anatomy, eugenics and education, and has presented conference papers both in Australia and overseas. A contributor and historical advisor for a number of TV documentaries, he is also an Honorary Associate in the History Department at the University of Sydney.