Medical Research Council Infant Malnutrition Research Unit, Uganda

  • Medical Research Council Infant Malnutrition Research Unit, Uganda
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The following is an interim description which may change when detailed cataloguing takes place in future:

22 16mm microfilms of the Unit's records, 1951-1967, including ward notes, admission books and analysis results, with 8 notebooks detailing the contents of each microfilm; plus an album of photographs of the Unit's buildings, ward laboratories and staff, 1964.

Please note that this archive contains a large amount of patient data that is highly sensitive in nature. When the archive is catalogued, the patient data will require closure for the lifetime of the data subjects in accordance with the 2018 Data Protection Act.



Physical description

2 boxes

Acquisition note

Given to the library at Wellcome Collection by the Medical Research Council in 1996 and 1997.

Biographical note

A group was set up in 1953 by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to study infantile malnutrition in Uganda. Professor RFA Dean, the scientific leader, and other members of staff had worked at Mulago Hospital on various problems associated with the feeding of young children since 1951. In 1957 the group became a fully-fledged MRC unit, the Infantile Malnutrition Unit.

The Nuffield Foundation paid for a small hospital and laboratories to be built, and the Uganda Government contributed towards the equipment and staff housing. The laboratories were occupied and the ward opened in 1954. Children were admitted as patients to the ward either from the outpatients department or children's ward of Mulago Hospital or at the request of other hospitals, social workers or doctors attending the Infant Welfare Centres.

Anthropometric measurements were taken to detect the onset of marasmus, and biochemical investigation revealed the metabolic and cellular disorders of kwashiorkor. The majority of cases of severe malnutrition were found to have a strong element of calorie as well as protein deficiency, diagnosed as marasmic kwashiorkor. Severe cases were treated, and the various diets compared, and mothers were instructed in the feeding and care of their children. Attempts were made to follow up discharged cases.

The Unit was replaced in October 1968 by the Child Nutrition Unit, investigating the 'sub-clinically', rather than severely, malnourished child.

Terms of use

This collection is currently uncatalogued and cannot be ordered online. Requests to view uncatalogued material are considered on a case by case basis. Please contact for more details.

Ownership note

Professor Dean, the leader of the Unit, arranged for 'all the more important data' produced by the Unit to be filmed, and the films to be stored by the Medical Research Council in London. It is assumed that the original records have been destroyed.

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Accession number

  • 683