The University of Queensland Integrated Pathology Learning Centre (IPLC) is a modern museum and educational facility.

An outstanding collection of over 3500 pathology specimens are displayed in a dynamic teaching and learning environment. Displays incorporate objects from the Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History, along with the latest information on health-related topics, highlighting the progression in the understanding of human disease from past to present.

The IPLC is located in the heart of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) campus on the north side of Brisbane.

A satellite centre at the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) is a teaching facility that provides access to the collection for UQ medical and nursing students and clinicians on the south side of Brisbane.

At the IPLC the latest technologies are used to create interactive learning resources and displays that explore important human diseases and intriguing patient cases.

Visitors including students from a range of health programs, educators and health professionals from all clinical disciplines are invited to take advantage of the new and innovative resources and exhibition programs that the IPLC has to offer.

Visiting the IPLC

  • The IPLC is open to all health professionals and students studying a relevant discipline. Photo ID may be requested.
  • The IPLC is open to the general public by appointment only (Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 4.30 pm).
  • UQ students enrolled in the MD program who are based at Royal Brisbane Clinical Unit will have swipe card access.
  • Photography and filming are not permitted.
  • Food and drink, apart from water, cannot be taken into the IPLC.

Our history

The Integrated Pathology Learning Centre opened in 2010 in the recently refurbished Health Sciences Building, formerly the Clinical Sciences Building, in the centre of the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital campus. The idea that underpinned the establishment of the IPLC was the need to integrate the understanding of clinical medicine and pathology in the medical program. The University of Queensland’s pathology specimen collection was of world standard. The vision was to create a 21st century facility where the latest technologies could be used along with the pathology collection to enhance student’s understanding of the mechanisms of disease.

The University of Queensland established the School of Medicine in 1936 and James Vincent Duhig was appointed as Honorary Professor of Pathology (1937-1947). The first pathology class commenced for third year medical students in 1938. Dr Harry Wilson, a student in that cohort, recalled that the first practical pathology session, which was microscopic slide interpretation, was held in the nurses’ cooking room at the Brisbane General Hospital. Pathology teaching transferred to more appropriate accommodation at the Medical School at Herston when construction was completed in 1938. Professor Duhig collected specimens and models that formed the nucleus of the pathology museum at the Medical School. In 1950 it was named the J.V. Duhig Museum of Pathology.

Professor A.J. Canny, the first full-time Professor of Pathology (1947 - 1963), was reputed by students to set excruciatingly difficult pathology examinations. He and his colleagues, Dr T.H. Vickers and Dr J.A. Inglis, were passionate about pathology and laid firm foundations for understanding disease processes. They were instrumental in continuing the development of an outstanding pathology museum collection.

Dr Vickers, who was recruited from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, had a long standing interest in congenital malformations of the nervous system. His work on the pathogenesis of thalidomide-induced defects was of world standard. Many of his dissections remain in the collection today.

In 1964 a new pathology museum was added to the eastern end of the Medical School.

Professor J.F.R. Kerr was Professor of Pathology from 1974 until his retirement in 1995. John Kerr completed the MBBS course at the University of Queensland in 1957 having interrupted the course for one year to do a BSc in the Pathology Department. He joined the University of Queensland Pathology Department in 1965 as a Senior Lecturer having completed a PhD under the supervision of Professor Sir Roy Cameron in London. This important work led to an active research program focusing on the revolutionary concept of cell death that he called “apoptosis”. In July 1996 the title of Emeritus Professor of Pathology was conferred by the University of Queensland. He has been the recipient of numerous international awards in acknowledgment of his work.  

While to the world John Kerr is known for his ground-breaking research on apoptosis, in Queensland he is also renowned for his contribution to medical education, having inspired a generation of medical students whom he provided with a solid foundation in the pathological basis of disease. He made enormous contributions to the Pathology Museum aiming to create a world class collection illustrating as many manifestations of the common diseases as possible. He was a meticulous dissector and would reject any specimen that was offered to him that did not reach his very high standards.

He was assisted by Museum Technical Curator Mr Alexander (Sandy) Powell, another recruit from Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Like John Kerr, he was a meticulous expert who mounted specimens for the general teaching collection. He also provided specimens for the Professorial Departments of Medicine and Surgery that were used to reinforce the importance of clinico-pathological correlations.

As surgical and autopsy practices changed, by the early 1990’s active specimen collection had declined. Soon after John Kerr’s retirement in 1994, the teaching of pathology in the medical program was greatly reduced along with the use of the collection for teaching. Museum space was reallocated for other purposes, a phenomenon which was occurring at other sites around the world. During the period when Professor Jeremy Jass was Head of Pathology at UQ (1996 – 2001) teaching methods began to change with the provision of digital resources, including digital images of the specimens.

When the collection seemed in danger of becoming obsolete, enormous efforts were made by pathologists, educators, clinicians and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia to ensure its survival. In 2006, shortly after Professor Sunil Lakhani’s appointment as Head of the School of Medicine’s Discipline of Molecular and Cellular Pathology, a proposal to develop a centre of excellence for pathology education was put forward.

The IPLC is the culmination of that effort. Since 2010 medical and other biological science students have benefited from the teaching programs and resources on offer, secondary school students have participated in a popular outreach program and visiting students and health professionals have visited exhibitions and undertaken curator led tours.

With the latest technologies being used along with the world class specimen collection the Integrated Pathology Learning Centre has become a an outstanding 21st century facility.


Pathology Specimen Collection

The foundation of a pathological museum in Queensland was first discussed as early as 1900 at the scientific meetings of the Queensland Branch of the British Medical Association. A curator was appointed in 1901. The specimens collected were handed over to Dr J.V. Duhig in 1920, when he was visiting pathologist at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital, and later to the University of Queensland’s Department of Pathology.

The oldest specimen in the collection is of lung from a young man with tuberculosis who died in 1935, a year prior to the founding of the University of Queensland Medical School. The accompanying notes describe the clinical history as well as the pathologist’s macroscopic and microscopic findings, giving a complete picture of the way that this disease developed at a time when no drug treatment was available.

The collection now includes just over 5000 specimens, most of which are at the Integrated Pathology Learning Centre (IPLC) on the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Campus. This provides a wonderful resource for students enrolled in the UQ MD program. A satellite facility at the Princess Alexandra Hospital also houses an exemplary set of specimens for MD students based on Brisbane’s southside.

The collection at the IPLC is being used in a variety of ways for teaching. Through the IPLC’s Secondary Schools program, students from regional and metropolitan schools can learn about conditions relevant to themselves and the communities in which they live.   

Specimens from the collection are also being utilised by other UQ Schools and Departments to study disease in a variety of contexts. At the School of Social Science, pathology specimens are used to give students a better understanding of disease in programs like “Bioarchaeology: Human Remains and Ancient Disease” and “Forensic Archaeology”. School of Biomedical Science students visit the IPLC to undertake teaching tours of the facility in the “Integrative Physiology and Pathophysiology” course.

Informal curator led tours conducted for students studying in other health disciplines including nursing, medical imaging and dentistry offer a new perspective to their understanding of disease.

Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History

Some remarkable objects from the UQ’s Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History are displayed at the IPLC along with pathology specimens to highlight the progression in understanding of disease from past to present.

Museum Officer
+61 7 3365 5423 (Tues and Thurs am only)


Schools Program

The IPLC conducts a 2 hour program for Year 11 and 12 secondary students. The program is co-ordinated by the UQ School Liaison Team.

For information visit the UQ in Schools website

Contact us

Phone: +61 7 3346 5130

To contact a member of staff directly, see below:

Rebecca Lush
+61 7 3346 5130

Neville Zell
Museum Technician
+61 7 3346 5129