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Michael Alpers

Dr Michael Alpers (1977-00) took the reins, the Institute had about 10 staff, five Papua New Guineans and five expatriates. By the end of his term in 2000, there were five expatriate staff and around 250 Papua New Guineans. Dr Alpers set the standard for the modern Institute, ensuring that there was “no research without service; no service without research.” Research programs continued to look at disease problems of the greatest importance to Papua New Guineans, such as pneumonia, malaria, enteric diseases, filariasis and malnutrition. A branch was established in Yagaum for malaria research and pneumonia research was undertaken in the Asaro Valley and in Tari. Later, major programs were established in women’s health and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. New branches were created in Maprik and Wewak, Port Moresby and Lae. IMR studied kuru, asthma, diabetes, hypertension, rural water supplies and even drafted PNG’s anti-smoking legislation. Our kuru research has continued for more than 50 years and has contributed to two Nobel prizes.

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