We are proud of our standing, our history and our achievements. In the past 70 years we have produced four Nobel Laureates, some of Australia’s most pre-eminent scientists and thousands of graduates with a world-class education in science, environment, medicine and health.
Comprising four initial research institutes, ANU became Australia’s only fulltime research university in 1946.
Our story began through two of these founding institutions: medicine and physics. Instrumental to the inception of ANU was one of the world’s most eminent scientists, Lord Howard Florey. Florey won the 1945 Nobel Prize in Medicine for developing the therapeutic potential of penicillin and instigating its large scale production.
Testament to the University’s success, within the next fifty years the founding institutions expanded into a broad range of disciplines including mathematics, chemistry, biology and Earth sciences.
With two observatories, ANU was at the forefront of astronomical research in the southern hemisphere and also became the first institution in the country to establish a research centre dedicated to the interaction between resources, environment and society.
Within science, medicine and health we have fostered four distinguished Nobel Laureates.
Following in the footsteps of Lord Howard Florey, Professor John Eccles, founding Professor of Physiology, was awarded the 1963 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking research on the ionic mechanisms of synaptic transmission in the brain.
Thirty three years later Professor Rolf Zinkernagel and Professor Peter Doherty received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their revolutionary work in immunology.
Professor Brian Schmidt, together with international colleagues, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for the extraordinary discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
Appointed in 1949, the long-standing contribution of microbiologist Professor Frank Fenner is unprecedented. A visionary in his philosophy, Fenner was distinguished by his ability to advance cross disciplinary research. Combining scholarly expertise in medicine with evolutionary biology, Fenner’s work on the myxoma virus changed the way the scientific community thought about the evolution of disease.
His establishment of the Centre for Resources & Environmental Studies resulted in the first research centre in Australia to focus on the interaction between resources, the environment and society. Six decades on, the multidisciplinary structure of the ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment and the ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences builds on Fenner’s legacy, by bringing together diverse fields to tackle the most challenging problems of our time, both at a human and scientific level.
The University's illustrious research history continues to contribute to its ranking as one of the world’s top ten institutions for education in environmental, earth and marine sciences, whilst placed in the top fifty for a broad range of scientific research areas including physics and astronomy, metallurgy and materials, mathematics and chemistry.
Our intensive research culture shapes our core educational priorities, providing students with state of the art resources and the opportunity to interact and learn from staff of the highest calibre. Nationally recognised for our excellence in education, we have received over half of the University's Australian Awards for University Teaching in the last three years.
Now with 800 academic staff, and with the highest number of higher research degree students, we have fulfilled what ANU set out to achieve by providing unparalleled excellence in research led education.
Continuing to evolve
There are now two colleges and over a dozen research schools and centres that work towards delivering teaching and research outcomes in science, medicine and health.
Unique in our structure, the cross disciplinary potential of the colleges builds on the legacy established by the eminent scientific members of its past. In concert with the colleges’ highly collaborative and intensive research culture, students are provided with state of the art facilities and a world class education.
Professor Brian Schmidt, 2011 Nobel laureate
Professor Peter Doherty, 1996 Nobel laureate
Professor Rolf Zinkernagel, 1996 Nobel laureate
Professor John Eccles, 1963 Nobel laureate
Lord Howard Florey, 1945 Nobel laureate
The Australian National University is established by an Act of Federal Parliament.
Foundation stones are laid for The John Curtin School of Medical Research and the Research School of Physical Sciences.
Laboratories for the Research School of Physical Sciences, the University's first permanent buildings, are opened.
In association with the Department of Astronomy in the Research School of Physical Sciences, Mt Stromlo Observatory formally becomes part of ANU.
The School of General Studies, inclusive of the Faculty of Science, opens and the first undergraduate students commence at ANU.
Professor John Eccles is awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking research on the ionic mechanisms of synaptic transmission in the brain.
The first female professor at ANU, Hanna Neumann, is appointed in the School of General Studies, Department of Mathematics.
The Australian Forestry School accepted its first students as a department in the Faculty of Science.
The Research School of Chemistry and the Research School of Biological Sciences are established.
The Research School of Earth Sciences is created, separated from the Research School of Physical Sciences.
The Centre for Resources & Environmental Studies is established by Professor Frank Fenner.
The North Australia Research Unit is established in Darwin to facilitate research in northern Australia.
The School of General Studies formally becomes 'The Faculties'.
Closely affiliated with the Department of Astronomy in the Research School of Physical Sciences, a 2.3 metre telescope is opened at the Siding Spring Observatory.
The National Centre for Epidemiology & Population Health is established.
The Research School of Physical Sciences becomes the Research School of Physical Sciences & Engineering.
Within the Faculties, a new Faculty of Engineering & Information Technology is established.
In the Institute of Advanced Studies, the Research School of Information Sciences & Engineering is established.
Professor Rolf Zinkernagel and Professor Peter Doherty are awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their revolutionary work in immunology.
The Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring observatories become part of the Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics.
The Centre for Mental Health Research, previously called the NHMRC Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Centre, is established.
The ANU Medical School is established.
The Medical School is accredited by the Australian Medical Council for its first intake of students in the following year.
The Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute is established.
The Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health is established as an independent research centre affiliated with ANU and the University of Queensland.
The Menzies Centre for Health Policy, a collaborative centre between ANU and the University of Sydney, is established.
The ANU College of Medicine Biology & Environment and the ANU College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences are formed.
Professor Brian Schmidt, together with international colleagues, is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the extraordinary discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
The Eccles Institute of Neuroscience is launched as part of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, and the Research School of Population Health is established.
ANU launches ANUx open online courses, with the first course on astrophysics course taught by Professor Brian Schmidt and Dr Paul Francis.
Professor Chris Parish, Director of the John Curtin School of Medical Research, was named the Canberra Citizen of the Year in recognition of his life’s work in cancer and immunology research.
Professor Graham Farquhar from the Research School of Biology wins the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science for his work on photosynthesis modelling.
ANU scientists, including Professors Susan Scott and David McClelland from the Research School of Physics and Engineering, formed part of an international team who discovered gravitational waves.
Dr Graham Farquhar AO from the ANU research School of Biology becomes the first Australian to win a Kyoto Prize - the most prestigious international award for fields not traditionally honoured with a Nobel Prize.