Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial
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ID number ART24302
Title Lieutenant Colonel Ruthven Blackburn
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Heysen, Nora (Artist)
Place made Australia: Queensland, North Queensland, Cairns
Date made September 1945
Medium pencil with black conte crayon on paper
Measurement overall: 46.6 x 32.8 cm


Portrait of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Ruthven Bickerton Blackburn, Commanding and Senior Physician of the Land Headquarters Medical Research Unit (LHQ, 1MRU), Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC). During the 1940s Blackburn worked with a team of medical researchers in Cairns to find a way of arresting the crippling malaria casualties among Australian troops in New Guinea. Volunteers were deliberately infected with the parasite and then treated under various drug trials. The results of the trials at 1MRU highlighted the importance of taking Atabrine (mepacrine) which significantly reduced the symptoms of malaria seen in operation in New Guinea. In 1949 Blackburn established the state's first clinical research unit at Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he later became actively involved in the training of doctors in the 1960s and 70s. In 2006 Emeritus Professor Blackburn was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in recognition of his service to the development of academic medicine and medical education in Australia.