Our History

Our story began in 1986 when paediatrician Professor David Danks established the original Murdoch Institute, with the support of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, her family and others including the late Sir Jack Brockhoff and the Miller family.

Professor Danks' vision for an independent genetic research institute grew from a handful of researchers to become a world-class centre of genetics research and clinical genetics services.

In early 2000, under the leadership of Chairman Mr Laurie Cox and Director Professor Bob Williamson, the Murdoch Institute and The Royal Children's Hospital Research Institute merged to form the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, with a broader focus on child health research, including public health and clinical research.

The clinical genetics services are now managed by Victorian Clinical Genetics Services, a wholly owned entity of the Institute.

In 2005, under the leadership of Director Professor Terry Dwyer, the Institute underwent a major restructure which resulted in significant growth and increased scientific excellence.

In 2011, Murdoch Childrens celebrated another exciting phase of growth, when we moved into our new home in the new Royal Children's Hospital building. The move resulted in a doubling of research space and has provided our team with world-class facilities.

The Institute welcomed Professor Kathryn North in 2013, as the Institute’s fourth Director. Professor North has strengthened the Institute’s strategic direction, ensuring a focus on tangible and meaningful outcomes for children and further aligning our research with our campus partners, The Royal Children’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne’s Department of Paediatrics.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE

A founding member of the Institute in 1986, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s unparalleled generosity has enabled the Institute to improve the health and wellbeing of children all over the world. Together with founding director Professor David Danks, Dame Elisabeth is at the heart of the Murdoch Childrens.

Until her passing in 2012, Dame Elisabeth was heavily involved in the oversight of the Institute as a generous philanthropist and esteemed patron. She influenced and inspired people from all walks of life - from politicians and business leaders to families and children - to discover the joy of giving and championed the importance of medical research. She had the foresight to recognise the importance of investing in and developing genetic research, even when this field was in its infancy.

“When I was young, conditions like polio and small pox were the big health issues, now you hardly hear of them thanks to tremendous advances in medical research. Today, the health of children is challenged by issues such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and depression. Medical research is vital to solve not only these problems, but emerging problems we will face tomorrow and many years from now.”Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE